by Carol Greenberg
Over and over, when people share with me about the hardest of times, the issue of loss and grief comes up. The following, shared by Carol Greenberg, will be helpful to me, and to others, as we develop plans for, or deal with the hardest of times. The mental health recovery work that I have been doing for the last 30 years is all based on what I have learned from others. Please share your experiences so they, like Carol’s, can be helpful to others as well.
My dearest friend and husband died almost three years ago. The grief I felt during the months of his final illness and after he died has been overwhelming. We had sixty years together—not perfect all the time, but close enough to realize that I had lost the most important part of my life. It was the part that loved me, listened to me, argued with me, laughed and cried with me, and that completely shared my life. That was gone forever. I weep for that loss every day.
What accompanies this, daily, is loneliness. I cannot always fill the enormous void that is there. Remembering and reliving in my mind and heart our years together and talking about him with my family and friends helps. I try to talk with them and see them as much as I can. I have tried new things, and made plans for this very different part of my life.
Several months after his death I adopted a rescue dog. He has been a wonderful companion. His everyday antics make me laugh—a lot, and I find myself telling him my problems and plans. He is a patient and loving audience.
I have learned to enjoy being by myself. I often relish that solitude and realize that spending time alone is not always the same as loneliness but a very good time for meditation, reflection, and growth.
Loss can be difficult for everyone.
Using WRAP can help you overcome the grief associated with loss.
Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, developed Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) with a group of people with lived experience who were attending a mental health recovery workshop in 1997. She is the original author of the WRAP Red Book, as well as dozens of other WRAP books and materials. She has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to learning from people who have mental health issues; discovering the simple, safe, non-invasive ways they get well, stay well, and move forward in their lives; and then sharing what she has learned with others through keynote addresses, trainings, and the development of books, curriculums, and other resources. Now that she is retired, and that, as she intended, others are continuing to share what she has learned, she continues to learn from those who have mental health issues and those who support them. She is a frequent contributor to this site.