Ask Janine - How Do I begin To Come To Terms With The Loss Of My Daughter?Sep 22, 2020
By Janine Wirth
I lost my 17-year-old daughter in a car accident at the end of last year. I've read books, gone to a group for grieving parents, yet I still can't seem to come to terms with this loss. My friends were very supportive at the time, but I'm starting to get the feeling that they want me to move on now and ‘get over it’. I don't know if I'll ever be able to. Do you have any advice for me?
Dear Still Grieving,
I'm so sorry for your loss. Being a mother myself, your email brought tears to my eyes.
There are a few things that I want to share with you, the first being that we don't ‘get over it’. Ever. We may come to terms with it and come to accept it, but the phrase ‘get over it’ really irritates me when we speak about losing a loved one.
I think Glennon Doyle Melton hit the nail on the head in her book Love Warrior when she wrote, ‘Grief is love's souvenir. It's our proof that we once loved. Grief is the receipt we wave in the air that says to the world: Look! Love was once mine. I love well. Here is my proof that I paid the price.’
We live life expecting to one day lose our parents - this is the natural progression of life, but we don't expect to lose our children. Nature says children outlive their parents, so in my mind this is an especially difficult loss to come to terms with. Also, your daughter's age left so many questions unanswered: What would she have chosen as her career? Who would she have married? Would she have had children? And often I find it's these types of questions that plague parents who lose children.
When my clients come to me for help with loss and grief, I advise them to stop trying to run away from their grief and instead run towards it with their arms open wide. I realise this might sound strange, but bear with me.
Grief isn't an illness or condition that needs to be avoided or cured. It is an emotional reaction to losing someone we loved - why would we tell someone to ignore or block that out? If we think of our loved ones as representing a golden thread embroidered in the tapestry of our lives – then that to me is something to be grateful for.
I recommend an action I call 'intentional grieving' to my clients. This is where you intentionally carve out space in your calendar, for example, a Saturday afternoon where you allow yourself to feel your feelings.
This could be looking at photo albums, cooking your loved one's favourite meal, listening to their favourite music - anything that reminds you of them. This allows you to celebrate who they were and gives your mind and body a chance to healthily process your emotions by allowing whatever is bubbling under the surface to escape. The most important part of this though, is to be compassionate and non-judgemental with yourself. If you feel like crying, then do so. If you feel like screaming into a pillow, be my guest.
Problems arise when we don't give ourselves time and space to work through our emotions. Ignoring them or pushing them down is really unhealthy and will not serve you in the long run. Emotional Freedom Techniques (or ‘Tapping’ as it's commonly called) can also help you to process emotions and the best part is that you can do it by yourself and it doesn't cost anything (check out Brad Yates on YouTube). Journaling has helped some of my clients too. Buy a journal that is only for writing letters to your loved one. Write whatever comes to mind as if you were actually having that conversation with them or you were really writing them a letter.
Whichever way you choose to facilitate your emotions being felt is correct for you, the most important part is just allowing it to happen. Healthy people don't avoid their feelings, they acknowledge them and work through them.
I hope this has given you some insight and ideas on how to grieve without shame or embarrassment.
Janine Wirth, is the proud founder of Path to Healing Therapy and Coaching. Her mission is to help female entrepreneurs heal their emotional baggage, heal unresolved emotional trauma and PTSD without spending years in therapy and create spectacular business success for themselves. You may have read her story in The Spotlight and if so you’ll know why she’s so passionate about her work so when she got the opportunity to work alongside The Female CEO and provide a monthly question and answer she was thrilled!
Do you have a question you would like an answer to? If so then drop Janine a line at [email protected] All questions can be anonymous if preferred, just let her know! You can read all about Janine and her work here or catch up socially on Facebook or LinkedIn
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