The first of June. The year is flying past.
I love June because it signals the commencement of winter. The Australian winter is wonderful. Cool days and brilliant blue skies. I dislike June because, in this particular month, I lost two very important people: my father and my stepfather.
Funnily enough, we were discussing grief recently in the group sessions and maybe this is what started me thinking about this. Apparently, the general consensus that the period of grief should last around three months. I can't say that I'm in agreement with that, although this probably relates to the experience of grief in terms of disruption of life. It just seems so unreasonable to put a time frame on grief.
I still experience flashes of grief even though I lost my father 19 years ago, my stepfather 9 years ago. While it doesn't happen on a regular basis, it doesn't interfere with my life functioning, it still evokes powerful emotions. It just requires a trigger....a specific date, a specific chain of events, a particular smell....out of the blue, a sense of loss as keen as it was when I first experienced it. Along with it, guilt and anger. Emotions supposedly long resolved. Kuebler-Ross may have defined a stage theory of grief (denial, anger/anxiety, bargaining, depression, acceptance). I really don't believe many people stick to the plan but switch back and forth between phases.
Of course, grief isn't just related to the loss of someone. The loss can come from any number of sources: the loss of physical or emotional health, loss of independence, loss of a job, anything that is of personal significance. It can be particularly hard to deal with when unexpected or traumatic, when it involves other life changes or when lacking support.
Facing situations like this, how we choose to manage it is key. Finding an outlet for grief can be helpful. Think about talking, writing, whatever takes your fancy. Even though we might want to withdraw, avoiding isolation is important but choose company wisely. Spend time with supportive, empathic people. Eat well, exercise and simply take time to work through the loss, however long it takes.