It is very common these days to see articles written on how perfectionism is bad and holds you back from becoming your greatest self. Why it’s due to the fear of being judged rising up to stop you!
I’m known to be a perfectionist. Everything I do has to look right, sound right, and of course be right and that kind of mindset has indeed held me back in many respects.
I mean who wants to be judged or seen as wrong?
So it made perfect sense to me that I’d want to “grieve correctly”
With Loss Comes Grief
When my dad died, I for the first time experienced the heart wrenching, emotional turmoil, and chaos that grieving a loss will bring to your life. I needed to know how to grieve. No one had taught me. However, I didn’t have the language to ask for what I wanted to know.
Truthfully I needed to know that I wouldn’t feel this way forever, so what could I do in the meantime? The kindly psychologist I consulted with shared a few things:
Everyone’s grief is unique
You never get over your grief
It will take as long as it takes
My perfectionist brain couldn’t handle that information
Ok, granted I get it everyone’s grief has to be unique to them – tick
You never get over your grief” that I couldn’t believe was right! I’d feel this way forever?
Being told that it will take as long as it takes certainly wasn’t the answer I was looking for either.
Off I went on my own journey of discovery to find my own answers. If it hadn’t been for my desire to do “grief” correctly, I may never have had the adventures I had as I discovered my own way to heal and my way out of grief.
The 3 P’s
Not long into my search, I discovered the 3 P’s, (personalization, permanent, pervasive) by Martin Seligman, a renowned psychologist and this helped me begin to unpack my grief. Positive psychology and learning resilience are the tools Dr. Seligman is teaching about.
When we personalize the loss, we take on the belief that we are to blame and are somehow at fault. Pervasive is the belief that our grief will effect and spill over into every area of our lives. Permanent is the fear that how we are feeling in the moment will continue and we will always feel this way.
Sheryl Sandberg (COO Facebook) would go on to use the 3 P’s in her own healing journey after the death of her husband. She later gave a commencement speech to graduating students on how they could use them to navigate their own challenges.
My perfectionism was actually a good thing because it led me on an amazing journey. Six years later, I feel comfortable talking not only about my own journey into and out of grief but now I’m helping others become comfortable with their own grief.
So as a recovering perfectionist, I can say – it isn’t always a bad thing just don’t allow it to paralyze you but use it for good!
I had the privilege of interviewing, Alma Norman a feisty, 96-year-old at her home recently. Alma and I met at an event. After speaking with her for a short time, she shared her husband had died. I was struck by her acceptance and her view on life.
Reflections on a Life Well Lived
Indeed Alma was grieving the loss of her husband, Whiley. She also found her legally blind status upsetting as it held her back from enjoying the life she once had and added another level of loss to her grief. She shared with me she was looking into MAID (medical assistance in dying). Alma felt she had lived a full life and was ready to die. She obviously had thought this through and was at peace with her decision. I was in awe of this woman, her quiet acceptance of her life now and the grief she was experiencing. Alma I thought had every right to feel like a victim but she definitely was not one. I wanted to know more so I asked if she would grant me an interview. She readily accepted and was delighted to have had the experience.
In this interview, you will learn:
What early life events led her to be this quietly spoken leader, feisty, & independent woman
Her social causes, championing the underdog
How she met her husband and his proposal
Memories of a canoeing trip and how that memory was shared before her husband died
Very different people led to a very happy successful marriage
Acceptance of aging, declining health and still maintaining her ability to laughter
Hearing Alma’s story will no doubt give you insights and hopefully help you in grieving your loss with more understanding of how and what helps with grief.
In our society, we readily acknowledge that grief follows after a loved one dies. It is expected and accepted but this isn’t the case when the couple divorce or a long-time relationship fails. They are not given the same compassion as the person whose loved one has died. Grieving after a relationship fails is rarely acknowledged even by family, friends. We know that it’s awful and the person will get over it. Unfortunately, this is not the case as guest expert Diane Valiquette will attest to.
In this episode, you will learn:
There is so much more to grieve than the relationship itself
How divorce/breakup grief is more painful than the death of a loved one
Why grieving a relationship loss can go on for many many years
The mistakes couples can make when dating again so soon after the divorce/breakup
A more realistic timeframe to wait before dating to ensure a happier outcome
The difference in emotional grief experienced by a Dumper or Dumpee
The biggest mistakes couples make in marrying without testing the relationship or having a clear sense of who they are
Why so many marriages fail today
The harm inflicted on children of divorce and what can be done to avoid
Discover if believing in “the one” is fact or myth
The secret to living happily ever after
This episode is available on the Lets Talk About Grief Podcast streaming on Apple or Spotify. Click the link to listen.
The last thing on my mind, was how would I find my life after this loss. I didnt recognize that I was about to begin my own healing journey. Those thoughts were far from confused mind. In that moment it was more important for me to find out how I could cope. My healing journey and finding life after loss would be part 3 in this journey of mine into grief.
The day dad died, I couldnt quite understand how outside the hospital the day was filling up with its “normal” that of “getting on with life”. Right now, my life was anything but normal our life had stopped but everyone elses life continued.
Where was help when you needed it the most I thought. I realized no one was coming to save us. I had to be the protector now for mum. Up until this point it had been Dad’s job. Looking back, growing up both my parents had fiercely protected my sister and me to the point I really didn’t know how or what to do at this moment. Dad had always been there to ask.
Figuring it out
Clearly, we weren’t prepared for what we would have to go through and face as a family or alone with our grief. Somehow we muddled through. We had to for there was no mentor or guide, it was a “figure it” out as you go along routine.
To begin with, there was help via the funeral folks but after that, we were very much alone.
For me, it was a struggle, I was overwhelmed by life, emotions, and feelings. Alone, I would journey for a while until I did find help. I was fortunate, with my nursing background I understood death but for the rest, it was my holistic friends I turned to and relied on to ease my pain.
How Others Heal
Over time I wondered, how did others heal and journey through their grief? My quest began and would be answered only when I did my own research. Frankly, many people didn’t. During the search I read about people becoming stuck in their grief, pining and longing for their loved ones. They would lose their vitality and their own lives as a result. It was as if they too had died alongside their loved one. This was tragic.
There were many more people like me who do eventually find their way back to life. Their lives forever changed as they learned to adapt and grow in ways they couldn’t have expected. Some would go on to create legacies or help others during their time of grief.
In the next group, these people grieved but got on with their lives fairly quickly after death. Looking at their characteristics it was noted they were generally happy with their lives and their work fulfilled them. Yes, they had deeply loved the person they lost but somehow, they didn’t lose themselves in their grief.
Death is about Finding You
It was then I recognized as I was doing my own healing work that the death itself became less about his death and more about finding me.
During our lives, there are many times we will be faced with many challenges and how to deal with them either brings you to your knees or you find a way to get up. It is in the getting up that so many lessons are learned along the way that contributes to growth. Life is structured this way and as humans, we are meant to be growing. This growth then becomes one of the head and heart learning. We need both if we are to develop wisdom and compassion.
Just knowing so many grieving a loss can lose their way or are unable to move on with their lives. I wanted to let you know that you can heal your grief and go on to live an amazing life.
I understand first hand what it is like to lose a loved one. This has taught me the value of empathy and compassion. Over the years, I have developed tools designed to help and guide you. If you recognize yourself in any of the categories described above. Please let’s connect so I can share more about what I do.
"Too often we identify with our labels but labels limit us they are not who we truly are"
Labels Don’t Tell the Whole Story
Who you are is not defined by your name or even what you do in life for you are much more. Too often your self- worth is tightly tied to that of your work role or relationship label.
These are jigsaw parts adding color and meaning to the whole of who you think you are. You wear many roles and hats but they aren’t who you are either.
The Sum of the Whole
It’s through your roles and relationships that form the sum of your experiences that shape you. The cycle of life continues as you grow older and change, 0ften adding new labels as you evolve into the next stage of your life.
Your name is used first to identify who you are and the clan you belong to. You become a son or daughter, sister or brother, girlfriend or boyfriend showing the world more of who you are. Then you marry and a new label of husband or wife is given, followed next by mother or father.
No Longer Five
I’m no longer a girl but my age puts me in the category of senior or elder but underneath I’m still me. The same me I was at 5. Somehow I got buried under the weight of the labels I used to define me or hide behind. Doing so gave me a false sense of self-worth.
It isn’t until death or major loss occurs, the great equalizer and it doesn’t matter which label was used it doesn’t stop the cycle of life from occurring. Underneath we are all too human and with any loss, grief pays a visit and stays for a while, perhaps even a long while. It is during this time that we have an opportunity to shake off our labels as we are brought to our knees, for truly what do they matter?
A Crisis in Identity
We call out “who am I” when the label no longer fits.
A crisis in identity occurs when we allow our self-worth to be defined by labels. It is so important that we take care not to do so as our labels can easily be taken away.
Relationships can define us but we can become lost in them. Often meshing and melding with “others” in our lives to fit in. We do this also to be loved and feel loved. Each time we do so another piece of us is lost.
When someone or something is taken from us we hurt, we’re upset and a temper tantrum at the injustice is thrown. It is now we must learn how to live our lives without the person and our label attaching us. This is your opportunity to rediscover the YOU underneath. The one that got buried living life.
You may feel broken and worn down by this experience but there is a part of you that is always whole, is always you. It is simply waiting to be discovered again, dusted off and brought out into the sunlight to play and to dream again.
This is how grief coaching helps you find YOU after a loss.
If you’re ready to explore – please message me and let’s talk. Your life is waiting for you but needs your participation.
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