In Grief: Difficulty Making Decisions

He who rides the middle of the road gets hit from both ends.  ~ Loni Bergqvist

A reader writes: I have been browsing the Articles Worth Reading section of your Tools for Healing forum. I was wondering if there is an article or book that you can suggest for me about decision making and grief. I'm in the second year and I feel I'm making all the wrong decisions regarding my life, like job searching, where to live, how to spend money. Or I find that I'm unable to decide at all.
It is different with the decisions made in the first year and it is not that I haven't been before at this crossroad, but my [deceased] partner's opinion was the one I regarded the most and listened to the most. Although I have caring people around me, I feel lost without his opinion. For example, I rejected a job proposal and regretted it later on. I was sure of the decision at the time and half a day later I cried because I felt I did wrong. I'm 36 and I used to be rational, pragmatic and had good judgment, but now I feel lost in a world that cannot stop and wait for me and my emotions to go away. The pressure from outside is very strong. And the fear that his death could have damaged me forever is in the air. I struggle to find a balance between my emotions, my need to find peace, and the rush and pressure to stand up, move on, and go on because that's the way it is. 

I keep going to therapy and we started to discuss this issue. Unfortunately, my town offers little in terms of counseling and grief counseling. I have checked ads and most are devoted to couple therapy or teenage disorders. There is a new trend on "ontological coaching" but the people I met who do this did not aknowledge my pain as it is, but rather as a bad thing that I can transform into a new positive feeling. I don't want to judge but to me it sounded superficial.

Thank you in advance for any input.


My response: I certainly can point you to a number of articles on this topic, my dear, but I think it's important to acknowledge that you're still relatively immersed in the midst of your own grief process. I realize that you're "in the second year" and that may seem like a very long time to you, but when your entire world has been turned upside down and your future is nothing like you'd expected or planned for it to be, it isn't any wonder that the confidence you used to have in your ability to plan ahead has been shaken to the core. The fact that you "used to be rational, pragmatic and had good judgment" is important to keep in mind, too, since in many ways you're still that same person, with those same personality traits, strengths and skills.

All of that said, here are some helpful resources for you to check out:

Decision-making Process

Making Decisions in The Wake of Loss

Grief, Emotion, And Major Life Decisions

Grief, Decision Making and Listening to Myself Again

I understand what you're saying about struggling to find that balance. You say that you keep going to therapy and have started to discuss this issue with your therapist, but I’m wondering if you are satisfied with the way you are working together. I hope you are able to discuss where you are with all of this now ~ so you can examine more closely the fear that your partner’s death could have damaged you forever, and consider instead that now that this death has happened, in what ways has it changed you and how you think about yourself and your future. I agree with you that "superficial" stuff is not what you need, but rather an approach that takes into account your significant loss and its life-changing effects on you.

I wish you had access to a qualified grief counselor who comes from the perspective of loss and mourning. If you have a hospice in your town, you might call to see if they have a list of counselors skilled in working with grief. Still, it's good to know that you're already in therapy and have started to discuss these matters with your therapist.

In addition, I hope you'll continue to read, as it's an excellent way to learn what is normal in grief and all the ways others have learned to live with their own losses. Our Grief Bibliography page has dozens upon dozens of recommendations, suggested by the bereaved themselves, for the bereaved, and we're adding to it all the time.

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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