Recognizing Your Own Progress through Grief

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The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. ~ Lao Tzu

We often speak of grief as a journey ~ but as you go from one day to the next, how do you know you're moving forward  ~ much less where you're going ~ and how will you know when you've reached your destination?

Change isn't always obvious and dramatic; grieving is a process that takes place over time. The grief experience is different for everyone; it doesn't happen all at once or at the same rate of speed. Unless you're aware of the clues to healing and their significance, your progress through grief may be so subtle and so gradual that you will not notice it at all.

On the other hand, if you watch for and choose to recognize certain changes in attitudes, feelings and behaviors in yourself, you can measure your own progress through grief.

Consider printing the below checklist, and let it serve as a guide for self-evaluation. You might post it on your refrigerator door or bathroom mirror, where you’ll see it every day.

Moving Through Grief: Recognizing Signs of My Own Progress

I hereby resolve to take some time each day to become aware of my own healing.

In the days, weeks and months ahead, I will make an effort to notice when I am able to:


__ Drive somewhere by myself without crying the entire time.

__ Get through a day without feeling tired all the time.

__ Concentrate on a book, movie or television program.

__ Not think of my loved one for a period of time, however brief.

__ Get through a few hours or days nearly free of pain.

__ Return to a daily routine.

__ Eat, sleep and exercise normally again.

__ Participate in a religious service without crying.

__ Accept invitations.

__ Listen to music we both loved without crying.

__ Be more aware of the pain and suffering of others around me.

__ Be more patient with myself and with others.

__ Notice others in like circumstances, and recognize and accept that loss is a common life experience.

__ Reach out to another in a similar situation.

__ Realize that the sometimes thoughtless comments of others stem from ignorance, not malice.

__ Find something to be thankful for.

__ Be patient with myself through grief attacks.

__ Feel confident again.

__ Accept things as they are without trying to recapture the way they used to be.

__ Think less about the past.

__ Look forward to the day ahead of me.

__ Reach out to the future less fearfully.

__ Stop and notice life's little pleasures, the splendor of creation and the beauty in nature.

__ Catch myself smiling and laughing again.

__ Feel comfortable spending time alone.

__ Remember my loved one less idealistically - as less perfect, with more human than saintly qualities.

__ Review both pleasant and unpleasant memories without being overcome by them.

__ Reinvest the time and energy once spent on my loved one.

__ Remodel my space: rearrange furniture; change colors and textures of walls.

__ Re-make my image: change my hairstyle, make-up or clothing.

__ Explore new foods, new places and new things.

__ Feel more in control of my emotions and less overwhelmed by them.

__ Feel freer to choose when and how to grieve.

__ Talk about my loss more easily.

__ Feel less preoccupied with myself and my loss.

__ Feel a renewed interest in giving love and receiving it.

__ Look back and see my own progress.

__ Notice that time doesn't drag as much; the weekends aren't as long.

__ Notice that the good days outnumber the bad; the mood swings aren't as wide; the time between upsets is greater.

__ Plan the future more effectively.

__ Think more clearly and feel more in control of certain aspects of my life.

__ Make decisions and take responsibility for the consequences.

__ Feel open to new and healthy relationships while maintaining old ones.

__ Discover abilities in myself I haven't developed before or didn't even know I had.

__ Fill some of the roles once filled by my loved one or find others who can fill them.

__ Recognize that loss has played an important part in my life, and that growth can be a positive outcome.

__ Identify how this experience has changed me for the better: what I've learned, what I've become, and how I've grown.

__ Share the lessons I have learned through loss with others.

Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below.
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