Several days after my daughter died from injuries she received in a car accident, I received a call from a friend. He told me that his son had died in a car accident when he was 17 years old, something I did not know. His call and advice to “keep busy” touched my heart.

Having experienced a loss before, I understood the advice, but it makes grief counselors shudder. Being too busy can turn into avoiding grief. When my friend called, I had no idea that two more family members would die. I didn’t know that I would find a way to “keep myself busy.”

Five years have passed. Today, I have a better understanding of this approach to grief reconciliation. I think the focus depends on how you keep yourself busy. Many find comfort in the activities of daily living: shopping, cooking, washing dishes, vacuuming, dusting, and doing laundry. Simple tasks can be relaxing and give your mind a brief respite from the pain.

I decided to keep busy writing, a logical choice because it is my occupation. However, the focus of my writing shifted from health and wellness to recovery from grief. Instead of avoiding complaints, I learned everything I could about it. I printed hundreds of articles from the Internet, bought books on the subject, and wove this information into articles and books. Doing writing assignments (identifying points, putting them in order, finding the correct words) made me feel better.

The complaint had not robbed me of my ability to write.

A childhood lesson helped me too. When I was in fifth or sixth grade, the man who lived next to us died. His wife, a retired nurse, responded to this loss by becoming excessively busy. She was always running from place to place and rarely had time to talk to my mother, who was one of her best friends. Mom was worried about her and rightly so, because our widowed neighbor hastily remarried, only to leave the marriage a week later.

Turning to my occupation for comfort sounds like a risky decision, but it wasn’t. My husband and I were guardians of our twin grandchildren and they kept us involved in life. Being a GRG, grandfather raising grandchildren, made it impossible for me to overdo myself in writing. I managed to find a middle way between hustle and bustle.

I also paid attention to my grieving work. In his book, Living when a loved one has died, Rabbi Earl Grollman says that we should cry NOW (in capital letters) and not hold back our feelings. “If you do, your feelings will be like smoldering embers, which can later ignite and cause a more dangerous explosion,” he writes.

This explosion can be delayed or a complex duel, which is best avoided. Later in the book, Rabbi Grollman refers to the “medicine of the time.” Go on to explain that what you do over time is important. For me, writing day after day, month after month, year after year, was the medicine of time in action.

If your pain is new and raw, watch for signs of avoidance. Let the simple tasks of daily life comfort you. Find comfort in hobbies and helping others. The most important thing is to find a middle way between the occupation of the mind and the excess. This path will lead you to a new life.

Copyright 2012 by Harriet Hodgson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *