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What I Learned About Resilience in the Midst of Grief

Choose Life

The key is to choose life, and not lose the ones we have, to what we have already lost.

Accepting the good and deciding to shift towards life during matters of death is an effective psychological technique, which is referred to as 'benefit finding'.

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What I Learned About Resilience in the Midst of Grief

What I Learned About Resilience in the Midst of Grief

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_i_learned_about_resilience_in_the_midst_of_grief

greatergood.berkeley.edu

4

Key Ideas

Losing a Loved One

Extreme grief, like losing a loved one is normally handled by an individual's support group of friends and family in stereotypical ways.

There seems to be a 'support gap' in which positive emotions like hope, gratitude, kindness, bravery, and resilience hardly find any mention during the grieving period.

Choose Life

The key is to choose life, and not lose the ones we have, to what we have already lost.

Accepting the good and deciding to shift towards life during matters of death is an effective psychological technique, which is referred to as 'benefit finding'.

Resilient People

Studies after the 9/11 terror attacks showed that experiencing positive emotions created a buffer against depression. Resilient people can work out ways to include hope, love, humor, pride, inspiration, serenity into their lives.

We all can use nature therapy, inspirational movies, and books, music, and sports to fuel our positive beliefs and emotions.

Rituals Are Important

Participating in rituals returns a feeling of control to the bereaved, and people who practice rituals are reported to be feeling lower levels of grief.

Even small acts that make us think of the departed soul, like wearing their jewelry, or making their favorite dish in loving memory, keep the 'love communication' alive. We need to know that even when someone is gone, it is okay to keep loving and remembering them.

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The journey through suffering

The five stages of grief are described as anger, bargaining, denial, depression, and acceptance. Yet, when a tragedy strike, we already know how bad things are. What is most needed is hope.

Suffering as part of life

We live in an age where many feel that they are entitled to a perfect life. But at some stage, everyone will face a tragedy.

When tough times do come, resilient people seem to recognize that suffering is part of every human life. Understanding this stops you from feeling discriminated against when trouble comes.

Directing your attention

Resilient people typically manage to focus on the things they can change and accept the things they can't.

Don't get swallowed up by your troubles. Don't lose what you still have to what you have lost.

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Feelings are summary judgments

Most of the time we don’t second guess them, and even if we do, they often end up overwhelming us. 

Negative feelings are very powerful and harder to question: we identify with them effo...

Misunderstanding resilience

Resilience is most times associated with being tough. But that’s not gonna get you very far with feelings. Don't try to be invulnerable. Aim for flexibility instead.

You cannot avoid or resist all pain in life. But you can learn to live with your discomfort better.

"Solving" emotions

We have trouble dealing with feelings because the usual problem-solving rules don't really apply to them.

When faced with a problem, we can always avoid it or deny it. But attempting to resist negative feelings won’t work. Any attempt at suppression only amplifies them. We must go from avoidance to acceptance.

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The shared rituals and their importance
The shared rituals and their importance

Rituals give us a feeling of going beyond the ordinary, of turning events into something special and meaningful. And shared rituals are essential to humanity, as they provide us all with a sens...

Adapting shared rituals

While going through difficult times, we are all losing, more or less, the shared rituals we used to have with others. But that is not actually such a bad thing.

Instead of thinking about what was lost, we could think about what we still have and figure out ways to make the most of the time spent at home, like staying more with our family or getting in touch again with old friends by calling them.

Making new rituals

It’s not that difficult to create rituals online. Focus on:

  • Asking people to bring to their online gathering something symbolic to share, to create a sense of connectedness.
  • Marking the moment as something special by having someone provide an opening statement.
  • Creating emotional highs by using music or something else with high emotional resonance to augment the experience.
  • Having a distinct ending that includes an emotional peak, because people tend to remember an event better that way.