When we talk about grief as a journey it highlights the need to understand two key things about ourselves:
- Where we are right now
- Where we hope to go
Alan Wolfelt describes the objective of our personal grief journey, where we hope to go, as Reconciliation.
In our current Men’s Group we are trying to explore what Reconciliation means for each of us. It is opening up fascinating conversations centered around self-examination and self-discovery.
Reconciliation is a multifaceted concept, much like grief. We know that grief affects all of us in 5 broad ways:
Reconciliation has aspects in each of those categories.
EMOTIONALLY. We are shattered by our losses. The emotional aspect of reconciliation is about finding ways to integrate our loss into our lives and the development of new versions of ourselves. We understand that the pain of our losses will always be with us, but we find ways to soften the edges – we learn to ‘flip the coin’ and see the love behind the pain.
COGNITIVELY. We can get so lost in the ‘whys?’ of our losses that we get stuck there. Cognitive reconciliation is about acknowledging the reality of our loss and accepting the fact that our loved ones will not physically be with us. It is another facet of integration that allows us to begin our personal reconstruction.
PHYSICALLY. Physical reconciliation is the process of shifting focus to allow us to take care of our physical needs whether that means breathwork, returning to exercise, improving our diets, or just reengaging with the physical world around us.
SOCIALLY. In the wake of our losses we often lose connections with those around us. The losses EricsHouse members experience can be stigmatized. People in our lives may push us to ‘get back to normal’ or not be able to accept that the only normal available to us will be different from the old normal. Social reconciliation is about forming new connections or repairing old ones that support our grief in healthy ways. It means accepting that we cannot do this alone.
SPIRITUALLY. Grief is fundamentally a spiritual journey, reconstructing our identity, revitalizing our divine spark . . . or realizing that we have one, and recalibrating on our place in the universe. Whether we have a formal religious framework in our lives, a general sense of spirituality, or are struggling with the concept of a higher power our losses expose us to the question of ‘what comes next?’ Reconciliation may include connecting or reconnecting with our higher power, it may focus on belief that our loved ones continue to exist as themselves in a non-physical form, or simply opening to the great central question of our existence.
This journey does not end. Reconciliation is not a destination, it is a state of mind and a way of being. I believe, at its heart, it is an abiding sense of gratitude for the love that we have in our lives.