Are You Missing How Things Used to Be?

By: Ann Leach
Monday, November 9, 2015

Ann Leach shares ideas about how we can give thanks and look forward. Acknowledging the gifts your loved one's loss left you is part of the healing process. And you can take comfort in knowing that their memory will live on as you look forward and incorporate some of the solutions you've discovered through the above exercise into your new life.

The "good old days" can become the "good new days" as we build on our memories and write a new story of how life can be after the loss.

by Ann Leach

I never thought I would become one. You know who I mean: the older adult from our childhood who talked about the "good old days" and regaled us with stories of how things used to be and attempted to convince us that they were better.

But lately, I have to admit, I have been doing some complaining. I've shared my thoughts with friends about customer service and communication and what's just the plain old right thing to do. This isn't like me, really. But I have been working hard and I know I am tired, so I think I have slipped into some old ways of thinking that really don't serve me.

And then it hit me: while I have been missing the way things used to be, I could be putting that energy into how I would like them to be instead. I could write a new story and create a different outcome, just by changing my words and my thoughts.

Let's look at what this means when it comes to grief. You're missing the good times with a loved one and can't stop thinking about them with your friends and family. "I'm not sure how I can go on without having ______ here with me," you say. Or, "I wish we could still go to _________ together. We did that every year at the holidays." These thoughts are tricky because they offer some comfort (it is nice to remember the good) but they also keep you in a painful state of being (you're staying in the hurt of the loss). What can you do?

Take some time with your memories. Notice the positive qualities they possess. For example, if you are remembering a pleasant family reunion that you and your loved one once attended, take note of the good parts like "stimulating conversation with the young adults in the family" or the "great support of the family when we told them we were having a baby" or maybe even "the chance to sleep on that great mattress in the guest room".

Pull out the key concepts. As you begin to rewrite the story of grief, you would note such positives from the above example like "stimulating conversation", "great support" and "great mattress" and start to see how these concepts could be woven into a future that brings comfort and peace.

Brainstorm future solutions. Where could you now find these things? Who in your world today could offer you stimulating conversation?  Would it come through a book club? An adult Sunday school class? By attending a workplace seminar? How about "great support"? Who is there for you and means it when they say "call anytime"? And what could the "great mattress" be about? Perhaps it is a gentle nudge to redesign your home so that it is conducive to comfort-making sure you are surrounded by things that you are comfortable with.

Give thanks and look forward. Acknowledging the gifts your loved one's loss left you is part of the healing process. And you can take comfort in knowing that their memory will live on as you look forward and incorporate some of the solutions you've discovered through the above exercise into your new life.

The "good old days" can become the "good new days" as we build on our memories and write a new story of how life can be after the loss.

Ann Leach is a life coach, freelance writer, publisher of In the Flow, a bi-monthly publications that supports, nudges and informs families and professional caregivers. She is the director of Life Preservers: a global grief support community. She is a certified grief recovery specialist and founded the Cancer Support Network when living in Illinois, where she facilitated support groups for those living with cancer and AIDS and their caregivers.

As an only child, Ann lost both parents to cancer and, by the time she was twelve years of age, had lost every mail in her life through death. Ann's experiences with loss have shaped her approach to life, causing her to celebrate each moment and explore what's truly important for her life. She started Life Preserv ers as a way to support others doing the same and to have a global impact on how our current society views death and the emotions associated with it.

You can learn more about Ann and her organization's outreach by visiting www.life-preservers.org

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