By Maureen Kramlinger
The question may arise initially from a bewildered heart: “I can’t believe this is happening. How will I ever do this?” This poignant phrasing betrays an acute sense of helplessness. Some newly bereaved persons may be literally unable to imagine life without a loved one. They may wonder whether they can go on and whether they want to make the effort.
This question is normal—even helpful, because confronting it lends itself to making a key decision: “I don’t know how I will, but I know I will go on because …” Facing the hard question, we find reasons for going on. These reasons in turn mobilize our energy and strengthen our motivation to face the challenges ahead.
Next may come, “Well, how will I go on? What will I do exactly?” This question brings to light resources within ourselves—personal strengths, past experiences, talents, interests and attitudes. Remembering our assets stirs confidence and deepens trust in our fundamental ability to cope with what comes. This in turn restores our hope. “I can go on.” This does not mean, however, “I’m supposed to do it all by myself.”
The new question then becomes, “What resources, inside and outside of myself, can help me open up and live this part of my life?” Reaching out for companionship and support in our grief doesn’t mean we don’t still do the work ourselves. It just helps validate that the questions we ask ourselves are legitimate.