The blow of widowhood is so stunning that it floors the best of us, and surprises even the most prepared. How can one be prepared for the loss of a love? Grief is so shocking that all you can do when it hits is function minute to minute.
When the death of a loved one is suicide, or any facet of mental illness is involved, there's a stage in the grieving process psychologists don't list: stigma. Survivors bear the stigma of survival. Even as friends gather to sympathize, you sense an unspoken undertone: Surely you knew something.
Even though people grieve in many individual ways and need different types of support, there are common feelings and behaviors that most people exhibit in a continuum. I found that emotional states after the loss of a spouse had enough similarities that they were worth examining further.
It seems that everywhere we look these days, we see news clips about one catastrophe or another. When we are faced with so many saddening facts and stressful events, how can we help ourselves and our loved ones heal?
According to the Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle, when we experience trauma or change, we go through five stages of grief -- denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Clearly, the ultra-conservative right is passing through that first stage.
Only you know what path you need to take toward healing, and whether you accomplish this using every one of the five stages, shunning books about grief or never missing a session of your bereavement group, the key will consistently be to listen to yourself.
When my traumatized states could not find a hospitable relational home or context of human understanding, I became deadened, and my world became dulled. When such a home became once again present, I came alive, and the vividness of my world returned.