I recently gave a presentation to a group of about 25 people at a retirement community. Anyone who knows me knows that I do not prefer public speaking. Once I’m doing it, I’m fine, but prior to it I’m a mess of nerves. I was, however, pleased with the talk and I’d like to summarize the theme in today’s Courage Road post.
Imagine the grief journey using Dorothy on the yellow brick road. Dorothy is trying to find Home, which represents hope and healing. We’ll begin when Dorothy is in the tornado and her house is going round and round. She feels afraid and alone—very similar to the place when a loved one dies.
How surreal it was to land in Munchkin Land. Yet she put on her Look Good Mask and smiled and nodded robotically. When people remarked how well and strong she looked, they did not realize she was just in shock. The Munchkins wish her well on her journey, “Get well real soon,” not understanding how long the grief journey can take.
Dorothy encounters many obstacles on the grief journey—remember the evil little monkeys and the trees who threw apples at her. These obstacles represent the many issues that occur—big and small that can seem overwhelming and exhausting. Perhaps it is the family drama at the funeral or the issues surrounding the trust or estate or lack of trust or estate! Perhaps it is the obstacle of figuring out your new identity or role or finding new interests or friendships. There are so many questions to ponder. Trust that you will find solutions to these obstacles on the grief journey if you either have the courage to face the tough questions and/or allow the time to let the answers unfold.
On the way, Dorothy finds friends who can help her grieve in a healthy way. The Scarecrow needs a brain. The Tin Man needs a heart, and the Lion needs courage. Of course, they already have these qualities in them. They just need to learn to access them. The same goes for grievers.
A griever definitely needs Courage like the Lion acquires to begin the healthy way down the grief Road. No pulling up of bootstraps. A healthy griever faces the pain head on. If they don’t, it will come back to bite them further down—either in anger or irritability or becoming ill by suppressing these strong emotions. Also, if there are unresolved issues of past losses then they all surface again at the present loss. Grief must be expressed in a healthy way.
Next, when someone is in deep grief it may feel they have lost their brain like the Scarecrow—it’s important to find it in order to make the difficult decisions that must be made. How does one find their brain? By taking care of one’s basic needs. Drink plenty of water to replenish the tears you have shed. Feed your brain nutrients like green smoothies instead of a pint of ice cream. Find healthy comfort food. I’m convinced this is not an oxymoron. (Read Everyday Detox by Megan Gilmore.)
Rest is another important element of healing. Remember when Dorothy and her friends found a field of flowers and they slept. Sometimes sleep can be elusive, but at least try to rest. Taking care of oneself is essential. Wrap your support system around you like a blanket (sorry for those reading this in 100 degree heat, a blanket does not sound comforting). Dorothy found true loving and supportive friends who helped her the whole way on the journey.
Last but not least, Dorothy found the sweet Tin Man with the big heart. Heart is where the love is. I say if you love at a one, you grieve at a one. If you love at a five, you grieve at a five, and if you love at a ten, you will grieve at a ten. Grieving takes as long as it takes. But you must do your grief work by facing the pain and not avoiding it. Only then will you integrate the loss. You will accommodate to it. Hope and Healing does happen.
Please remember that my book Courage Road: Your Guide from Grief to Hope is for sale through this website. Although the shipping is not free, you are putting that fee back into my business of Courage Road, which will allow me to help more people in grief. Amazon gives me back only 55 cents! I’m not kidding. So thank you in advance for supporting Courage Road and not Amazon. It makes a great gift for someone who has lost a loved one.