From Grief to Growth

9 - But I Don’t Want to Accept It

Today’s podcast is titled But I don’t want to accept it!  We will explore what it means to accept the loss of someone you love, and help you assess where you are right now in the process of acceptance.  I will discuss what happens when you struggle to accept the death of your loved one. Finally, I will provide you with some ideas of how you can begin the process of accepting your loved one’s death.

 

How do we define acceptance?

According to the dictionary, acceptance can be defined as an agreement with a belief or an idea, opinion, or explanation.  On an intellectual level, you understand that your loved one has died and that they are not returning.  You are fighting with your emotions, and you do not want to accept the source of its pain.  It is easy to hold hope that your loved one will return, will walk through the door and that life will return to normal.  

 

Another definition of acceptance provided by the dictionary describes acceptance as a willingness to tolerate a difficult or unpleasant situation.  Will implies choice and although I agree there may be an element of choice involved, especially in the later phases of grief, at times, will has nothing to do with grief.  

 

Depending on where you are in your grief process, you may be incapable of accepting the death of your loved one who died suddenly at this moment in time.

 

When you are in a state of acceptance you will be able to do the following:  

 

  • Acknowledge your loss and the surrounding circumstances
  • Remember your loved one with more joy than pain
  • Spend little to no time thinking about the traumatic circumstances of the loss
  • Release many of the feelings related to guilt, blame or regret
  • Experience feelings of gratitude for your time together with your loved one and find pleasure in your memories 
  • Enjoy your life and look forward to your future 

 

This does not mean that all your sadness and grief will have disappeared.  It means that you fully understand that the physical presence of your loved one is absent from this earth, and you are no longer focused on the surrounding circumstances of how your loved one died and the pain associated with traumatic loss.  

 

Consequences of denial

There can be negative consequences of existing in a state where you deny the death of your loved one.  These consequences may include:

 

  1. Anger
  2. Depression
  3. Anxiety
  4. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder
  5. Problems with interpersonal relationships
  6. Difficulties functioning at work, school and in day-to-day life
  7. Physical problems such as increased illnesses, sleep issues, high blood pressure and/or exasperation of existing medical problems

 

Individuals who can accept the death of their loved one are more likely to be able to invest in other relationships, experience improved mood, and increased quality of life.

 

Where are you right now?

One way to start is to ask yourself where are you in the process?  Write down all the beliefs and thoughts that you have about your loved one’s death and current state.  Here are some examples:

 

  • “I understand that my loved one has died but I wish they were coming back”

 

  • “My loved one has died and there is nothing I can do about it”

 

  • “My loved one died, and I am never going to be okay”

 

  • “I refuse to believe that my loved has died because it is more than I can handle right now”

 

  • “I am just pretending my loved one is away because it is easier for me to cope”

 

  • “I know my loved one is gone on an intellectual level, but I can’t grasp it on an emotional level”

 

Acceptance is a process.

Accepting the death of a loved one is a process.  You must be able to acknowledge it and all of the changes that come with a sudden loss.  

 

So how do you go about accepting it?

  1. Talk about it 
  2. Write about it or engage in creative activities 
  3. Consider the concept of radical acceptance
  4. Give yourself the time you need to mourn and remind yourself that acceptance is a process  
  5. Separate what happened and focus on the person you love  
  6. Create a ritual to further your acceptance  
  7. Consider seeking the support of a mental health professional for guidance to identify what is keeping you from acceptance and coping skills to help you.

 

Podcast Review

In today’s podcast we looked at the difficulties that come with accepting the loss of a loved one. We explored what acceptance means, how to know where you are in the process of acceptance and some of the consequences of denying acceptance of your loved one’s death.  We ended by exploring different steps you can take to move towards accepting the death of a loved one who died suddenly.

 

Our next podcast will be available on Wednesday, September 28, and will be titled Can You Heal From Traumatic Loss?  Be sure to subscribe to my podcast so that you never miss an episode.  Don’t forget to leave a review and share this with someone you know who is living with a sudden and unexpected loss.

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