Losing a loved one is so deeply painful, it is bound to leave scars. I compare it somewhat to having broken ribs, but many times more painful. About a year or so ago, I was out running and I tripped and fell on an uneven piece of concrete and broke two ribs. The pain is very intense and it even hurts to breathe. I went to the doctor and he x-rayed me to confirm the ribs were broken, but there was nothing else they could do for me other than give me medication for the pain. The medication they gave me for the pain made me sick to my stomach so I pretty much had to find ways to survive the pain. On the outside, to look at me, you would not know anything was wrong, but internally it hurt every time I moved the wrong way. It is much the same for a grieving person. We try to put on a brave face for the rest of the world, but every breath we take is painful
Any recovery process is bound to leave scars. Most scars are visible on the skin as a reminder of the healing process you had to go through to get better. I’m sure even though my broken ribs are healed now, the mending of the bones left an internal scar of sorts on the bones so that a doctor could tell on close internal examination that I had at one time broken my ribs. So if physical recovery will leave a scar, then recovering from grief is also bound to leave an invisible scar. SCAR is the way that I came up for trying to navigate the grief journey:
S. Survive. In the early days, weeks, and months after losing a loved one, you do whatever you can just to survive. The pain is so intense at first that you can hardly breathe. Just to try to take a deep breath is a challenge. Grief sucks you under like a massive wave from which it seems you will never escape. So you have to do whatever you can to survive for the next minute, and then the next hour, and then the next day. It is trying to climb Mt. Everest. It is the hardest climb you will ever make and you begin to doubt that you will be able to do it. Just start by taking the first step and then the second. You probably will have set backs and need to take time to rest along the way, but just don’t give up. It will get easier I promise.
C. Choice. I believe that there will come a time on every person’s grief journey that they need to make a choice. Do I want to continue to feel this way the rest of my life, or do I want to try to find a way to feel better? In the survival mode stage, someone asking you this question would invoke feelings of anger, I know it did for me. How dare you ask that question?! Of course I want to feel better, but I will never be able to feel better because can’t you see I just lost my loved one?! For me, I eventually came to a tipping point, and it revolved around this thought. If I were the one who died, and I had to look down on my loved one consumed with inconsolable grief, thinking his/her life was over it would just break my heart. If I would feel that way, don’t you think it’s the same for your lost loved one? This was the tipping point for me to try to start doing whatever I could to begin to heal. I think at first you somehow feel consciously or unconsciously that losing the pain means you will somehow be forgetting or abandoning your loved one, at least that is what I think was holding me back. Actually the reverse is true. The more you heal, the more that you are able to reconnect with them on a different level.
A. Act. To heal from this requires action on your part. For me I have a hard time with self worth because of my depression, so it was hard for me to try to change for myself (I’m still working in therapy), so I had to tell myself I was going to change to honor my loved one. I included my loved one in every step I took along the way. This is what she would have, and I believe still does, want me to do. My loved one became my inspiration for change. I continued in therapy when I wanted to quit. I began to use guided meditation to try to reconnect with my loved one and to calm myself. I also began to attend grief groups for support. I read everything I could about spirituality and grief. I spent more time in prayer, and I began to volunteer with the funeral ministry at my church. I still run 4 days a week, and I wear shirts with my loved one’s name on it. I also wear a rubber wristband with my loved one’s name, which I never take off. I’m not saying you have to do all of these things, but find what works for you. Just make sure you are doing things to honor your loved one instead of dwelling on the pain of loss. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s essential if you want to begin to feel better and strengthen the bond you have with your loved one.
R. Rediscover. You are never going to be the same person that you were before the loss of your loved one. No matter how much you desire to have your loved one back and your life the way it was, it is, unfortunately, not going to happen. The life as you once knew it has been shattered, and you have been left with the painful task of trying to put the pieces back together. All the pieces will not be able to fit together quite the way you hoped, but your life can still be quite beautiful. You can still connect with your loved one spiritually, and the love you have for him/her still exists. Yes, this process will leave scars, but wear your scars as a badge of honor for having the courage to carry on your loved one’s legacy. You can do this daily in the ways you choose to live the rest of your life.
**For Author Jim Silverwood’s full story, please visit his blog @