For several months following Eddie's death, I did everything I could to help myself through that difficult time. As I've said before, I met regularly with a pastor, attended counseling sessions every week, read practically every book I could find on grief, and finally started seeing a psychiatrist. I also read daily devotions from several different books, made notes of uplifting sayings and bible verses, and wrote fairly regularly in a journal. I was still going to the cemetery almost every week, even after six months. Then one day it hit me - I needed a break. I realized there was actually such a thing as going overboard with the grieving/healing process. I had to stop trying so hard and let myself just "be" for a little while.
I ended the meetings with the pastor (he agreed we had covered everything anyway). I talked to my counselor, and we decided I would see her on an "as needed" basis. I put away all of the books on grief, even if I hadn't finished reading them. I chose one book to read devotions from each day. I stopped making notes of sayings and verses. Instead I put what I had already written in my purse so I would always have it with me if I felt the need for something uplifting. I quit making myself write in my journal every day and started writing only when I really had something I wanted to talk about. I stopped going to the cemetery except on special occasions.
Over time I've managed to find a balance between doing too much and doing too little. I went back for counseling a few more times, mostly to help me get through the holidays and the first one-year anniversaries. I sometimes refer to one of the books on grief when I start having certain feelings or questions again. I still carry the notebook of sayings and verses in my purse "just in case". I've switched from keeping a journal to writing a blog. Now I go to the cemetery if I want to - not because it's a special day or because I feel like I should.
The road to recovery is a winding, up and down one. It's full of potholes, but you'll also encounter smooth patches as you go. You will make wrong turns and get lost sometimes, but you'll eventually find your way again. As with any trip, it will probably take longer than you want. Just as I did when I was a child, I find myself now wanting to ask someone "Are we there yet?" I'm not sure if the journey we take after losing a loved one ever actually ends, but I do know it helps to stop and ask for directions along the way.
"Words to Live By"
We all need words to live by,
To inspire us and guide us,
Words to give us courage
When the trials of life betide us.
And the words that never fail us
Are the words of God above,
Words of comfort and of courage
Filled with wisdom and with love.
-Helen Steiner Rice