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One-Action-a-Day Grieving: Building strength as you grieve

We can probably agree that grieving is a bewildering process. Instead of getting up in the morning and jumping into your old routine, on some days it can be tough to come up with a reason to get out of bed at all. And where would the energy, and the focus, come from to power you through the day, anyway?

Meanwhile, well-meaning people caution you not to make any big decisions while you are grieving, lest you make a mistake you’ll regret. The message, from inside as well at outside, seems to be: You are helpless, and untrustworthy, until the grief passes and you are yourself again. The problem is that you won’t be your old self again. With every day, you are becoming your new self, tested and strengthened by the experience of grieving your loss. The trick is to trust yourself, rather than old ideas that weaken instead of strengthen you.

I have witnessed, again and again, that grieving people can be capable of sound decisions and action. Some days, the action may be rather small, like taking a walk around the block, or sending a thank you to someone who has stepped up for you. Or they can, on other days, be something you’ve wanted to get around to for some time, like tackling a closet or planning a trip over a coming holiday. For the big jobs, it’s helpful to set a modest time frame – say, one or two hours today, the rest in days to come. It’s always easier to continue a project than start one, so beginning small helps it become doable.

Early in the day, maybe while you brush your teeth, or with your morning coffee, or on the way to work, choose an action that you will feel good about completing,. Whether you make it up on the spot, or work from a list of actions you would like to take one of these days, it can have a powerful effect on that day.

It’s important at the end of the day to give yourself proper credit for the action you’ve taken. The satisfaction of carrying out an intention is empowering, and worth the effort. Perhaps keeping a list of these accomplishments, or a journal entry, can become tangible proof that you are anything but helpless in your grieving. One day, one action can be the beginning of a powerful habit that will put you in charge of your grieving.

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