Saturday, June 1, 2019

GOOD GRIEF, "Carry Sunglasses ... at All Times"

The soul would have no rainbows if the eyes had no tears.
Good Grief: Strategies for Building Resilience and Supporting Transformation.

Native American Proverb

Grief and loss produce emotions, and tears, that emerge spontaneously — anytime or anywhere. Sometimes you are prepared for the tears. Sometimes you are not. Crying makes one’s face puffy and blotchy, turns the whites of eyes red, causes the area around eyes to swell and nose to run. It’s not a pretty picture at all.

I’d better stay inside, I said to myself many times. I look scary.

This look takes time to fade, and you may not want to go anywhere. So, instead of daring to go out and risk others seeing your grieving look, you may just stay in by yourself. Unfortunately, this condition could last for months, and you really need to meet the demands of daily living. Step forward and break out the sunglasses!

Alas, you often cannot find your sunglasses. Usually they are on your head, and you are too stressed out to remember — no problem. Have a couple of pairs in strategic places, a pair in your pocketbook, a pair in the car, and a pair (or two) on your head.

Ha, believe me the double-glasses-on-head look has happened more than once to me. Frantically searching for my sunglasses, I’d walk by a mirror and look up to see not one, but two, pairs on my head.

Remember, forgetfulness is part of the stress response you are experiencing, and this preparedness covers all bases. You may be laughing as you read this now, but note that in this state, you are not a pretty sight. You may even want to add a bit of makeup to look more presentable.

However, makeup plus tears can get a bit messy. So, choose wisely.

I found that having sunglasses at the ready was an important selfcare tool, helping to shield my red, puffy eyes from others. Beware, this grieving look is like a beacon, alerting others to avoid you or to venture forth attempting to comfort you. Either of these choices may lead to even more tears. You are trying to keep your emotions in control and appear normal most of the time. Sunglasses help you to maintain this control.

Unfortunately, sunglasses primarily cover the eyes; the rest of your face may be giving clues to others of your distress. You have done the best you could. Keep your chin up and venture forth to do your chores. You may even run into someone who shows you a random act of kindness during this time. It happened to me.

I wasn’t sure if I was hungry or not, but I told myself I had to eat something. I did not know what to do with myself. I wanted to go out and get some food, but where? I rode to Chick-fil-A and went inside. I stood rooted to the floor just a short distance inside the doorway with my sunglasses on; as I looked around, I experienced a momentary feeling of being lost, not knowing what I was doing there or what I wanted. It was a scary feeling for me, as I am always so in control.

I was caught off guard when a stranger, an older woman, approached me, started talking to me, and handed me something. I had a hard time paying attention, but I thanked her for whatever it was she handed me. As she walked away, I looked down at what she placed in my hand — a $10 gift card for food at Chick-fil-A. When I looked up, I could not find her. As I proceeded to the counter, I tucked this gift card into my pocket and used my own money to buy my dinner. I asked myself, why
did she give it to me? I’m not needy; did I look needy? Good grief, I must really look bad!

When I sat down and tried to eat, I was fighting back tears while thinking of her kindness, telling myself that I did not deserve this gift. There are so many others who could use this gift. I asked myself again, what did she see in me that caused her to give this gift to me? Then I remembered all the times I had given gifts such as these to others and went on my way, never considering how they felt. Now I wondered how they felt, and if they had asked themselves the same questions I did.

Then a thought popped into my head: Cheryl, you are not in control, and the universe knows how you hurt and is sending people your way to provide kindness and compassion through many ways — including gifts from strangers. So, I changed my perspective from feeling undeserving to embracing gratitude.

I was still glad I had my sunglasses as protection. Love your sunglasses and keep them close. You will need them often.
        I am brave and able to move forward one step at a time.
        I share my grief with humbleness and grace.
        I am gentle with myself and accept grieving as a part of life’s transition to new life.


With her permission, I am serializing here nurse Cheryl Barrett's valuable book on transcending grief. I had the pleasure of being her coach and editor through my Write Your Book with Me enterprise. 

Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD

Perhaps the easiest way to obtain a copy of her book, published by Outskirts Press, is through this Amazon link: 

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