Monday, October 12, 2009

Room for Change:Expressing Yourself

There is no formula for expressing yourself in grief just as there is no timetable or perfect way to transverse the process. The paramount theme is however expression.

Expression may be simply telling your family members you really want to be alone today or that their advise is welcome but only when you ask for it. Expression may be trying to understand why your late wife's sister demands that the closet be cleaned and finding the words to express your need to put things on hold for a while. Expressing your needs, in your surroundings, is crucial to a flowing grief process. You may have to negotiate with family members on how things are to be handled but allow your desires to be known.

Expression may take the form of artwork. It may be something you never did before. Losing oneself into a new activity is really not losing oneself, rather it is expanding oneself. Perhaps knitting, pottery or woodworking or jewerly making could stir an emotion. Creating something for someone else and then gifting it , is remarkably healing.

Expression through the written word is also helpful. Simply putting emotion or expression in a journal or on paper can release the words that may be flitting and bombarding your brain. No need to go back to them, just get them out. Poetry or even a list of feelings you are feeling can help you see what you are truly feeling and recognize that feelings do and can change.

I never wrote before my husband died. I was afraid to write in a journal because I was fearful of my own feelings being discovered by myself or someone else.. At the suggestion of a counselor I wrote before I went to bed during the first few months. It helped me to get some of the cobwebs out of my head in the often long nights. I have revisited the writings recently but only to observe the progress I have made in healing .In the grief process I have learned to express myself in another way, through writing. Without the loss I may have never discovered it.

Expression may take the form of dancing or singing in the local community choir. Expression may be creating a community garden. Expression may be talking to strangers in a bereavement group.

Expression is not good or bad. Expression just is. Allow new venues and activities to fill your space and support you on your journey in and through grief. Express your unique and growing self!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Room for Change:Supportive Spaces

Oh, the places you'll go, as Dr. Seuss exclaims! With the many new and awakening choices you are making in grief, some are demanded of you and some are chosen by you. One of the choices you have is to discover what kind of environment, besides your home, do you choose to surround you.

In your solitude, a local library , may be a public space that provides you with movement of people yet not forced interaction. It will have fresh new magazines and publications awaiting your perusal or travelogues or reviews to engage you. Remember that what you do today, you do not have to do tomorrow. Often simply trying something is enough to lead you somewhere else with better or more appropriate footing.

Look at the space you choose to go. If you have enjoyed community theatre in the past, maybe a subscription to the next season is in order. I have frequently bought two tickets and then invited different friends. If I did not feel like going I gave them away as a treat for someone else.

The classroom, whether it be local school evening sessions or investigative classes at the community college are possibilities for you. Your mind can be stimulated and the rhythm of a weekly class gives some semblance of order to your week.

Do not underestimate the power of volunteering when you are in grief. I volunteered at the local soup kitchen and smiled when I thought I could not. There is much to be said about appreciation of others, on both sides of the counter. I also volunteered with preschoolers during their " gym" session. How can one not see the grace and love in the little children? One particular 4 year old asked me," How old will you be on your birthday?" I replied , I am 49. She retorted back," That is not what I asked you." Hm mm, I learned a lesson in listening. She then told me that was a big number and that when my birthday came my head would hit the ceiling! Of course she was referencing the fact that I was already 6 feet and with every birthday came getting bigger and taller. Her precious words stuck and the smile did too.

Maybe you like to dance but without a partner are reluctant. Line dancing, ballroom dancing, contra and square dancing , all provide solo opportunities to step out in a safe and encouraging space. If art has been a passion for you and has been laid aside, maybe a pottery or photography course will fit the bill. There are many short term class schedules in most community arenas.

The quest is to place yourself in spaces that support your authentic self and the opportunity to use your talents or the opportunity to try on new activities. This is a time of self discovery and also a time to test the waters in your own boat. What floats your boat? It may be something different these days. Give it a try. The shoreline is not far away and the breeze is fine! Happy sailing.