No, all the anticipatory and preliminary grieving you do now, will not make the journey and feelings of loss when the time comes any less painful. There is no bypassing the grieving process…no matter how hard you try.
I coach clients during their grieving and through these conversations and personal experiences it has been my observation that many people live in so much fear and anxiety of experiencing the psychological pain associated with grief and loss, that they inoculate themselves with these feelings. For some, grief inoculation tries to serve the function of a vaccine. The notion that we can somehow be immune or have a less intense reaction to a loss if the grieving starts before the loss.
This could be visualizing any loss, including the day the relationship will end, or the day you lose your job, or the day you get diagnosed with a disease or the day that someone you love dies.
Can’t this make sense? Can’t we build antibodies to grief? Have we not discovered a way to experience less emotional pain? Alas no.
Some may spend time worrying about the worst case scenario, anticipating “the day”, perhaps to protect themselves, so when the day comes when the loss and/or pain occurs, they hope to feel prepared, or feel less pain.
Well, let me help you out.
The only pain left is looking back at the time you worried, unnecessarily, and did not spend time being present with the loved one.
Then you lived your life in the future.
Only to now reflect on a past you regret
And that, might be the most painful experience of all.
So what CAN you do?
Having lost a loved one recently myself, I have the following messages to share:
A day will come when something you love will die.
In the meantime, enjoy the time you have with them now. Be present with them, and with yourself.
As for the fears of what will happen when they go, how you will live or carry on? Save that energy. You will need it for when they actually do move on.
The anticipatory fear and anxiety, and catastrophizing thoughts, we feel when we think about the potential that a loved one may one day no longer be with us, robs us, and them of the time together you have NOW.
You cannot control the future nor can all the worry in the world. But you CAN free yourself from the worry, anxiety and fear, that for some acts like a curtain, keeping the sun out, and our nightmares in.
So open that curtain and wake up.
It’s all you have.