How to Grieve
So, grief. Ugh. Can’t we all just lie on the beach sipping Pina Coladas and paying out celebs? Sure you can – but if you are consistently single and want to get married, maybe you need to take some time out to do some ‘heart work’. Think of it like doing a university degree. It takes a while, you have to commit to it, and it will stop you from doing some of the things you used to do. Argh. But the results at the end will be well worth it.
In my last post I encouraged you to go deep and have a look at some of the painful events from your past that may be causing you to bear dysfunctional fruit. Now if you’re happy with the fruit you’re ‘bearing’, by all means log off right now and go hit the beach. But if you are sick of your current status and desperate for change, then get your active-wear on and prepare for some serious emotional exercise.
The first thing to know about grief is that it goes through various stages. It’s not about just having one big cry and then you’re totally fine. There’s a handy acronym DABDA that was introduced by a Swiss psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying. This acronym stands for the five stages of grief, which can be experienced in a linear fashion or a cyclical fashion, or in no order at all. This is what DABDA stands for:
Here’s a funny cat video which shows the 5 stages: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSsrg6TS4qs
Now let’s try it with a more relatable example. Perhaps you’ve been dating a guy for a few weeks, and things are looking hopeful. Secretly, you’ve been thinking about how to split up your share-house and get a career transfer to his city, and have been creating a private Pinterest board for your wedding. (We’ve all been there.) Then all of a sudden, he calls it off. VIA TEXT.
So here’s what your grief might look like:
1. It’s totally fine. He probably just had a bad day. There’s no way he’d dump me via text. Maybe his annoying best friend took his phone? Or his little brother! Oh yes, ha ha. He’s a character. It’s all good! This is still happening!
2. How DARE he break up with me! Via TEXT! He should burn in a swamp of sulphuric acid. NO-ONE should treat me like this. Doesn’t he realise HE WAS LUCKY TO GET ME. I am a total HOTTIE and he is missing out, BIG TIME!
3. Maybe if I hit the gym and lose 10kg asap, he’ll come back. Or was it my hair…I think he said he preferred platinum blondes? That’s it, I’m calling Rachel for an appointment RIGHT NOW. Or maybe I wasn’t spiritual enough? I’ll tell him that I usually go to church twice a week; the other week was just a bad time for me. Should I have gone further sexually? I suppose most of the girls do. I know, I’ll go to his house and wear something sexy under a trench-coat. He’ll have to let me in, sparks will fly, and we’ll be back together in no time!
4. This relationship was never going to work. I can’t believe I wasted so much time and energy on it. I’m a complete failure. I can never get anything right. My life is a flat, dry desert. No one will ever love me. I will die alone. Who will pay for my funeral? I better start a savings account for it. Probably no one will come anyway. I’m going to die a virgin. I have no future. I’m heading to KFC.
5. Oh well. It was a good learning experience. I suppose there were a few reasons why it didn’t work out. I can see how we were both to blame, and we just weren’t compatible. I know that I have something to offer in a relationship, and I’m going to trust that there will be someone out there who will make the effort to get to know me and want to romance me. Sigh. I’ve got my friends, my family, my work and my health. I can do this.
Can you identify yourself in any of these stages? Maybe you are still in stage 1: denial. Maybe your life really is perfect! But maybe, if you step back and take a look, you’ll notice a few loose ends that need to be sorted (this is called ‘unfinished business’).
Perhaps you are in one of the stages and you have been there for a LONG TIME. Now it’s true that grief has no timeline. And there are many events in life that are so traumatic that you may indeed never ‘get over it’ completely. But there should be some movement in your grief, a new level of acceptance with time, a healthier way of expressing your sadness, new relationships blossoming, and so on. If you are not experiencing this and seem to be feeling the same feelings over and over for months or even years, maybe you are ‘stuck’ in grief.
Sometimes, being single for a long time and feeling hopeless can leave us in the state of depression, and we really do feel stuck – like we are just hamsters running on a wheel, with no progress and no meaning to life. This is a legitimate feeling and can be soul-crushing and terrifying at the same time. I felt like this for some years, and it was terrible. At times it can be hard to drag yourself out of bed. But I want you to know that you are not alone, and that there is hope for your future. God does have a good plan for your life. And there are millions of men in the world hoping to find a nice woman to be their companion for life – it’s just a matter of connecting with them! Take heart – it’s not over yet.
If you are stuck, you probably need someone to help shake things up and get the grief process back on track. Ideally this will be with a trained counsellor or psychologist, who can help you identify your pain and work with you over time to walk through the various stages. In the next post I will outline the therapeutic process and point you in the right direction to get the help you need.
Bless you girls. Xo