First aid for grief and other all-consuming worries

This is a short chapter from my coming book on grief, If you have lost a loved one.

3. Scheduling: Immediate first aid

Rose had nursed her husband at home through three years of cancer, and then he died. She had a responsible job, but three months later found herself still making mistakes. An unkind colleague delighted in “helpfully” pointing them out to her, and voiced the opinion that after three months, surely she was over it.

Well, no. Two years of healthy grief is not unusual.

Rose sought counselling after driving through a red light on two occasions. You see, until he got too ill, her husband was the invariable driver when they went out together. So, she’d be sitting at the wheel, thinking, John should be driving, and collapsed inside, with no attention left for anything else.

She and I together invented a tool I have used myself, and taught to hundreds of clients. It is useful for any all-consuming thought or worry, not only grief.

In her appointment diary, she wrote “John” for 5-7 pm, seven days a week. During those two hours, she gave herself permission to feel whatever she needed to feel, do whatever she needed to do. She could cry, rage at the unfairness of it all, or whatever else was necessary at her current stage of grieving.

Any other time, like at work or driving, she reacted to a thought of grief by saying within her mind, Go away, love, I’ll talk to you at five o’clock.

This worked remarkably well for Rose, for me, and for everyone else who has given it an honest go. As long as you meticulously keep the appointment, the grief (or other consuming worry) is willing to wait for it.

Grief needs to be experienced. It needs to be felt–but not 24 hours a day. At first, like Rose did, devote two hours a day to it. Later, this can be gradually reduced, so at a certain stage it might be half an hour every Sunday, or eventually only on special days of remembrance like birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas.

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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2 Responses to First aid for grief and other all-consuming worries

  1. Don Lubov says:

    Great solution to dealing with a ubiquitous problem. Stay well,D

    Liked by 1 person

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