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What not to do

Early this month I had a book signing at a local River Festival. It was a successful time sharing my story with everyone. The day couldn't have been better, until the very end when we were packing up. I reached down to untie one of the canopy's guy lines from the sand bags and my earring caught on the string yanking it from my ear. I was fine, not even any blood shed, but I lost my signature earring - a bear claw.

It was just a cheap pair of costume quality jewelry I bought at a vendor as I hiked a long the Appalachian Trail when it passed through Dartmouth college on my 2017 thru-hike. I loved those earrings and wore them to most of my events. They became part of my look. Bruce and I searched and searched for it on the gravely surface until we had to concede to its loss. We even drove by the lot the next day only to find the place was being worked on and soon to be tarred over.


There was nothing valuable at all about this item other than the fact I enjoyed wearing them for sentimental reasons and they were fitting since my trail name is Black Bear. For the next several days I struggled with letting them go and realizing I had to part with them. Coming to my senses, I pondered my past losses of much greater value. The most recent - my pup, Ziggy who I keep trying to convince myself I am over, and even greater losses than a pet, such as loved ones. Then my mind stopped playing the woe-me card and focused on others. My heart began to hurt for all my family and friends who are going through and have been through their own major losses.


According to an article by Melinda Smith M.A., Laurence Robinson, and Jeanne Segel, Ph.D. I found on the web, grief can be caused by a number of things not limited to just the death of a loved one. Any loss can trigger grief, like a breakup, a divorce, a friendship gone sour, loss of health, losing a job and a list of other life changing situations.


This theme lingered in my brain and surfaced periodically during my few bouts of inactivity. I knew I wanted to write more about it, but I was busy with this and that and before I knew it, the week was over and I had forgotten to write this week's blog post. After an exhausting weekend, we went to bed early tonight and I relinguished the idea of keeping on track with consist posting. But, I fell asleep then woke up shortly after wide awake. Knowing from past experiences, I would not be able to go back to sleep. I got out of bed and came to my studio to putz around.


Ah! I realized if I could write my blog post before midnight I could stay on track. I usually like to publish my weekly writings on Thursday but I give my self until Sunday because life does happen. So here I am, pondering loss and how does everyone deal with it. I know how I handle it and most of the time I am not too successful at it.


Doing some past research I found all kinds of how-to's on the subject. When reading them, all I could hear was yady yady yady and blah, blah, blah. Then I came across an article by Tidesprogram.org Disclaimer: I have not researched this site or program. I stumbled upon this list and found it interesting. So before you implement any of their suggestions, make sure it is right for you.


What was unique about their list is it wasn't a do this... Instead it is a what not to do when you're grieving. As I was reading, I found myself ticking off several of the items as things I do. Hmm, no wonder my way has not worked well in the past. Here is their list of don'ts.

  • Avoid your pain and refuse to allow yourself to grieve

  • Live in the past

  • Ideal the person or your previous situation

  • Refuse to make the necessary changes to move forward

  • Dwell in self-pity

  • Lose respect for own body

  • Remain withdrawn or run away from your feelings

  • Rely on Alcohol and/or other drugs

  • Maintain unrealistic expectations of what friends should offer in comfort

  • Resent friends with intact families

  • Expect yourself to "get over it"

  • Guilt over good days

  • Cross bridges before you get to them

  • Condemn yourself

  • Underestimate yourself

  • Get involved in a serious relationship


Loss is something all of go through and need to deal with. While those how-to-lists are helpful and needed to get us back to our new life without whatever it was that we lost, I found this list of what not to do to be even more helpful. For me it was like a glance in the mirror. I could see all the things I was doing wrong which in turn made the to-do-list make more sense.


I would like to add one more item to the don't do list as I end and try to go back to sleep. I strongly suggest you don't give up on your faith. When we are dealing with all the pain of a terrible situation - giving up on faith will only worsen the situation and make it even that much harder to overcome loss.


I hope this helps you or someone you know that needs to hear this. Remember, you are never alone.


Emily


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