Lists, lists, and more lists. It seems as if all this article has is lists. It’s true. It does. But lists are useful and sometimes necessary. Lists help us to sort out and compartmentalize those things we have to do. Just as you make a shopping list for three items or more because you need to remember exactly what you were headed to the store for, you should make a list of accomplishments in your personal growth as you recover. You need to make lists that deal with getting on with your life.
The lists in this article are to be used in one of two ways. They are guidelines for phases in your recovery that you need to follow. They are also check points for phases in your recovery from grief that you have accomplished. Use the lists as you need them.
How do you know you are on your way to recovery from grief? Simple clues tell us that the grieving is ending and the living is beginning. You have to be able to recognize those clues that indicate you have let go of the past, or are in the process of letting go.
Ask yourself these questions to discover:
1. How often do I think of the past? (often, occasionally, rarely)
2. Do I become upset when I think about my loved one?
3. How often do I talk about the death? (often, occasionally, rarely)
4. Have I given up my emotional commitments to my loved one?
This last question is important because it focuses your attention on emotions, commitment, trust and love. Have you learned to trust and love someone else? Have you learned to trust and love yourself? Loving yourself is an integral part of your recovery from grief. If you cannot feel good about yourself, then you cannot heal and recover. A major condition of survival is having a positive attitude.
Here is a self-love checklist:
1. I feel I am lovable.
2. I am not afraid of being loved and am able to accept another’s love.
3. I am not afraid of loving another nor of expressing that love.
4. I feel comfortable meeting my own needs rather than feeling selfish if I do.
5. I am developing a more mature style of love.
6. I have grown personally since my crisis.
7. I am able to love myself; accept who I am.
When you find that you are able to love someone else, as well as yourself, you will find that you have made tremendous growth. You have learned to trust. Trust is so important to growth. How can you grow if you do not trust your own instincts? How can you grow if you do not trust your friends’ judgment? How can you grow if you do not trust your hair dresser or barber? Yes, even those people who may not seem as important as a new lover, friend, or yourself are just as important because they represent your growth. When you can trust someone else, no matter who it is, you are on the road to recovery from grief and on the way to becoming a survivor.
Here is a list to see if your trust is there:
1. I trust other people. (friends, companions, business associates)
2. I trust my feelings enough to act on them.
3. I am building new relationships to help in my recovery.
4. I am aware, though, that I still distance people.
5. I understand that not everyone should be trusted.
6. I am able to differentiate between which people should be trusted and those who should not. (Sometimes people trust too easily and quickly, and then are open to more hurt. You must be careful.)
7. I am taking risks in my relationships by exposing my true feelings.
8. I am TRULY interested in my friends.
Some of you are on the way to grieving less and loving and trusting yourself and others more, but some are still too responsible for others, or not responsible enough.
Do you take care of everyone else before yourself? Do you feel that you are the only one who can do whatever it is that has to be done? It is time to realize that just as you do not grieve alone, you do not have to be responsible for everyone else. What about you? Have you thought just about yourself since your loved one died? Have you done anything for just you?
OR are you the type of person who lets everything be done for you? Do you live for pampering? Is the one person who took care of you so well now gone? What can be done?
How would you reply to the following statements?
1. I know I exhibit over-responsible behavior.
2. I know I exhibit under-responsible behavior.
3. I believe I can change this pattern.
4. I am working toward more adult relationships where there is an exchange of responsibilities, and a sharing.
5. I am behaving with appropriate responsibility; asking for help, or giving help, with no strings attached.
Another list!? This is, perhaps, the most important. It combines all the areas discussed so far. It is a check list for you to evaluate how far you have progressed and how much farther you need to go for your recovery from grief.
1. I am able to verbalize what I am feeling.
2. I am able to communicate those feelings to another person.
3. I have at least one new important friend with whom I can share.
4. I express my anger in a positive, non-self-destructive manner.
5. I have renewed old friendships that may have been put aside during my grief.
6. I have identified areas in which I still need to concentrate positive energy.
7. I have spent time alone and have enjoyed it.
8. I have done something nice for myself and have not felt guilty.
9. I like myself.
10. I am making plans for the future.
11. I am much more in control of my life.
12. I am experiencing the freedom to be myself and like it.
Canine, J. D. (1990) I Can I Will: Maximum Living Bereavement Support Group Guide. Birmingham, Michigan. Ball Publishers.
Updated: March 14, 2013