If you find photographs and mementos helpful in the mourning process, use them.
If you find mementos bind you to a dead past, get rid of them--put them in the attic, sell them, give them away or throw them out.
Don't make any "thing" more important than your healing--or yourself.
I ceremoniously disposed
of all the objects
connected with you
I thought they were
It did not help.
I'm the one that's contaminated!
Anticipate a Positive Outcome
Whatever you pay attention to--focus upon--becomes more powerful in your life.
Focus on a positive outcome. Expect it. Anticipate it. Plan on it. It will come.
Be with the sadness, fear and pain when it comes, but don't dwell on it. Accept it, but don't invite it (except during your scheduled periods of mourning). Pain is an acceptable guest, but it is not a welcome long-term visitor.
How will it happen?
How will it happen
when I find some
someone to spend
a goodly portion
of my life with?
I mean, I've been
It will happen.
I will not dwell on
how, when, where, whom.
Expect to Feel Afraid
Fear is a natural result of loss, a part of the healing process.
There are so many things to fear when one suffers a loss:
- fear of being alone
- fear of being deserted or rejected
- fear that you'll never love again
- fear you'll never be loved again
- fear of the pain, desolation and torment that may lie ahead
Far from being the dark thing we are trained to treat fear as a child, fear is, in fact, extra energy to successfully meet the challenges of healing and growing ahead.
You will successfully meet the challenges.
Fear, when used as the energy it is, can help you meet those challenges. Don't fight the fear--use it. Fear is a friend, not an enemy. (More on fear as a friend on page 184.)
my days grow dark.
my nights are lit with
electric bulbs. I cannot
sleep. I am afraid of the
dark. I am afraid that you
will return and then fade
again. I am afraid that you
will never return. I am
afraid that my next thought
will be of you. I am afraid
that I will run out of poems
before I run out of pain.
It's OK to Feel Depressed
Pretending to have more energy, enthusiasm or happiness than you actually have is not productive. Pretending expends energy that could better be used for healing.
It's OK to feel "low" for awhile.
Crying has its own specialness; a cleansing, purifying release.
It's OK to Feel Anger
Everyone gets angry at the loss of love. Everyone.
It's OK to feel anger.
It's OK to feel anger toward the person who left (even if he or she left you through death) the person who took something or someone away the social conventions or customs that contributed to the loss the fates It's not OK to
- hate yourself
- act upon your anger in a destructive way
Let the anger out (safely, please!):
- Hit a pillow.
- Kick on a bed.
- Yell and scream (a car parked in a deserted place makes a great "scream chamber").
- Play volleyball, tennis, handball, soccer.
- Hit a punching bag.
- Play piano at full crescendo.
If the anger is channeled and dissipated in these harmless (indeed, helpful) ways, you'll avoid senseless arguments, accidents and illness.
Your anger will pass as your hurting heals.
I'm past the point of going
I'm getting quite
noisy about it.
The neighbors must think
It's OK to Feel Guilty
When you feel guilty, you are feeling angry with yourself. You violated a belief you have about the way you "should" think, act or feel, and you are mad at yourself for doing so.
It's OK to feel guilt, but there are limits.
Just as it's OK to feel anger, but it's not OK to hurt someone physically, it's OK to feel angry with yourself, but not to the point of illness or incapacity.
Some regrets are natural, but excessive self-punishment can be harmful.
The antidote to guilt is forgiveness.
You may be treating yourself far worse than the loss ever did.
Don't do that.
Treat yourself with love, respect, kindness and forgiveness.
love you and hate you.
How bound I am to you.
How bound I am to break my bondage.
I want to be free!
I want to be able to
enjoy the day again,
and give me back my nights.
You May Want to Hire a Professional or Two
There are many people who, as a profession, help others heal and grow.
These include (listed here in alphabetical order so as not to slight anyone!)
- alcohol and substance abuse counselors
- clinical psychologists
- exercise and fitness trainers
- licensed hypnotherapists
- marriage, child and family counselors
- massage therapists
- medical doctors and other health practitioners
- nurse practitioners
- pastoral counselors
- social workers
- stress management counselors
If you feel drawn to one or more of these, give them a try. See what the results are. If not helpful, try someone else. If helpful, try him or her again.
all I need is
I can really
When You Might Want Counseling or Therapy
Most loss, emotional crises or life difficulties do not require psychotherapy.
Nevertheless, professional assitance may be necessary or useful in the following instances:
- if you fear actually doing damage to someone else or yourself--including acting on suicidal thoughts
- if you seek solace in alcohol, drugs, overeating or other potentially harmful activities
- if the support of wise friends and family is not enough
- if you repeatedly find yourself in loss situations
- if you don't feel good about yourself, are perpetually out of control or under strain most of the time
Most people spend more time selecting a car than a therapist. As with any "important purchase," shop around.
Interview several therapists. Ask questions. What is their method of working with clients? What do they charge? What is their estimated length of treatment? How you feel about the therapist is of primary importance. Do you feel comfortable telling her anything about your life? Do you like him? Do you trust her? Does he treat you as an equal? Would you choose this person for a friend?
With a good therapist, significant benefits can often come in just a few sessions.
As soon as I
I gave up drugs
and I never started
on the legal poisons
But, fool that I am,
I forgot to give up
the most addictive
The Hard Stuff:
And now it's too late.
I'm hooked for life.
A love addict.
A Complete Medical Workup May Be in Order
You might want to get a complete medical workup (physical exam, blood tests, the works). It's probably long overdue, anyway.
There are some physical illnesses triggered by loss, and there are some physical illnesses that feel like loss, even though the cause is physical.
Now might be a good time to take a look at the functioning of your body.
Your health care provider can best advise you on the value of this suggestion, as well as the extent of the tests. If there is anything you fear you might discover in these tests, remember that knowledge is better (and more powerful) than fear.
Some Depressions May Require Medication
If your symptoms of depression (page 9) seem severe or continue longer than normal, an hour spent with a well-informed psychiatrist discussing your situation and evaluating your next course of action--including the option of medication--can be invaluable.
All too often, people suffering symptoms of severe depression fail to seek psychiatric treatment because they fear the stigma of "mental illness."
This is an unfortunate irony because severe, chronic depression is a prevalent and well-recognized medical disorder, one as treatable as diabetes or hypertension.
Severe biological depression results from a biochemical imbalance in the brain. Antidepressants, taken as prescribed by a psychiatrist, are non-addictive and effective.
If you wonder whether you need antidepressant medication, contact a competent psychiatrist for an evaluation.
Perhaps the best news in some time about the treatment of depression is that an inexpensive, relatively harmless herb can be as effective in treating mild to moderate depression as prescription antidepressants.
It's called St. John's wort. (The formal Latin name is Hypericum perforatum.)
St. John's wort is a natural herb that has been used to heal emotional wounds for thousands of years.
St. John's wort requires no prescription, is far less expensive than prescription antidepressants, and has far fewer side effects.
St. John's wort is so safe, in fact, that many people take it just to see if they feel better. Most do.
Dr. Bloomfield and Peter McWilliams have written a book, Hypericum (St. John's Wort) & Depression. The book is available online at www.hypericum.com.
Peter McWilliams was so displeased with the lack of uniform quality and high cost of commercially available St. John's wort that he markets his own brand under the name Joy Pills. Please go to www.joypills.com.
How many more times will
tears be my only comfort?
How many times will I see
that the potential is dead,
and that "our" love was
really in my head?
How many more times will
I give up,
and how many times will I
want you so bad that nothing
How many times with you?
How many times
with how many
Giving your body what it needs to function properly--and avoiding the things that interfere with its functioning--is important anytime, but particularly important following a loss.
Drink lots of water--eight to ten glasses per day.
Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat them raw, or lightly steamed.
Complex carbohydrates (whole grains, potatoes, pasta--yes, pasta!) are excellent sources of nutrition.
Reduce your intake of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and cyclamates.
Beware of junk food attacks and sugar binges!
Take a good multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. Especially valuable during loss are vitamin C, the B vitamins, calcium and potassium.
Make all dietary changes gradually. Don't jump on a fad-diet bandwagon. Make a few changes, see how you feel, and make a few more.
Listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs.
The garden loves the rain
and, yes, this is love.
But the love I want for you
--the love I want to give you--
is the love
Loving is giving freedom.
Remember: You're Vulnerable
In these days of stress and recovery, remember that you're vulnerable.
Guard your physical health:
- Get rest.
- Don't overextend yourself.
- Eat sensibly.
- Get moderate exercise.
- Drive more carefully.
Guard your emotional and mental health:
- Be kind to yourself.
- Stay away from toxic things, situations and people.
- Take your time.
- Don't try to understand, comprehend or figure everything out.
- Don't take on jobs that aren't yours. (As the Talmud pointed out, "The sun will set without thy assistance.")
Don't enter into situations in which you must be "convinced." Your sales resistance may be low. Keep that in mind.
Invite help from people who are trustworthy and able to do what you request of them.
There is no need to overprotect yourself. Just be aware that much of your energy is being used for healing and that the body's natural defense mechanisms may be weakened.
Once upon a time,
and a very long time
ago it was, too,
I was innocent.
I did not know
what love was.
Pain was when you
fell from a tree.
Beware of the Rebound
Nature abhors a vacuum. You may find yourself rushing prematurely into romantic attachments in an attempt to fill that emptiness.
If your healing isn't complete, an initial rebound is likely to be followed by another loss, a second rebound, another loss, then another, until your emotional life is lived in the ricochet pattern of a handball court.
Falling "madly in love" soon after a traumatic breakup seems great at first: your wildest hopes and fantasies come true! But then the bottom falls out. You discover the new love is not that totally sensuous, intelligent, considerate, understanding, sophisticated god/goddess you initially perceived. Only a human, just like everyone else. Sigh.
If you want to fall in love with someone, how about trying yourself?
you & you & you
but it's really
I'll try again
and gain again
and die again
and push on into the night.
To be reborn by a
look and a touch.
And to hope again that
this time it will last,
and to know
it will not be the last.
Under-Indulge in Addictive Activities
Beware of anything you may be--or may become--addicted to. Under-indulgence in the escape mechanisms of society is in order. Be with the pain, don't run away from it.
Alcohol may numb the pain momentarily, but it is a depressant, and the eventual effect will be greater depression.
Drugs (marijuana, uppers, downers, all the recreational chemicals) interfere with the natural healing process and should be avoided. A series of momentary "highs" is a poor trade-off for a deepening depression.
Calorie junkies beware! You may tend to overeat during this time, allowing "unwanted inches" to creep onto your waistline, causing a lowered self-image, resulting in even more depression. Better visit a diet center or your physician instead.
Smoking more now but enjoying it less?
Two great books on overcoming the addiction of negative thinking (or any other addiction) are You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought and its companion workbook Focus on the Positive by and our own Peter McWilliams. You can find them at your local bookstore, or by calling 1-800-LIFE-101.
I have done it to me again.
No other being has the power
to hurt me as deeply as I do.
It is the "need"
The "need" for love.
I need love because I am not happy with I;
me is not satisfied with me.
In order to stop this hurting
I must reach a point of
contentment within myself.
And that'll take
If you have a broken leg and are hospitalized, friends bring you flowers, relatives send baskets of fruit, you lie in bed all day reading or watching TV, nurses give you back rubs, doctors poke, prod and nod encouragingly.
In short, you are pampered.
If you have a broken heart, friends expect you to be your cheerful old self, relatives expect you to fulfill all your family obligations and you are expected to show up for work as energetic and efficient as ever. In short, you must deal with a world that does not accept the fact that emotional pain not only hurts, but that it can be debilitating.
The solution? Pamper yourself.
In addition to the suggestions on the following page, do for yourself whatever your parents did to comfort you as a child.
Suggestions for pampering yourself:
- Take a hot bath (no matter how you feel, thirty minutes after taking a hot bath you'll feel a lot better).
- Give or get a massage (rough and vigorous or slow and sensual).
- Snack on hot milk and cookies before bed.
- Buy yourself something you'd really enjoy.
- Treat yourself to your favorite double-dip ice-cream cone (with sprinkles).
- Get a manicure, pedicure or any other cure.
- Take a trip.
- Bask in the sun.
- Read a good book.
- Watch a good video.
- Take time for yourself.
- Buy yourself a cashmere anything.
- Go to a fine restaurant.
- See a good movie, play, opera, horse race.
- Visit an art museum.
- Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers.
- Acquiesce to your whims.
Dreams Can Be Healing
Healing is a full-time process, 24-hours a day, even while you sleep. Some say especially while you sleep.
You may get messages, information, insights or lessons from your dreams. Be open to them. You may want to keep a notebook by your bed to write them down.
Nightmares can be the body's process of resolving issues too painful or disturbing to encounter consciously. Know that healing is taking place. Once you know the images in a nightmare cannot hurt you, you can watch them like a movie--a horror movie, perhaps, but a movie nonetheless. Consciously surround yourself with Goodness and Light before going to sleep, knowing that only that which is for your highest good will take place--no matter what you dream.Forty-nine:
clouds ingest the moon.
raindrops die with a
splat on concrete causeways
the floodgates are about to burst
a banshee howls
over our love.
Sleep Patterns May Change
Changes in sleep patterns--how long you sleep or when you sleep--are common while healing.
If you have trouble falling asleep, wake up repeatedly during the night or wake up too early, this is known as insomnia.
Above all, insomnia is nothing to worry about. In fact, worrying about not sleeping can cause one to lose sleep. We all don't "need" eight hours every night, so if you are sleeping less for a while, that's fine.
You might try a glass of warm, low-fat milk before going to bed. Listen to soothing music, or to a tape of an uplifting meditation or lecture. If you find yourself trying to go to sleep for more than an hour, get up and do something else for a while. This breaks the pattern of worrying about worrying about sleeping.
If you wake at night, read or listen to something comforting and inspiring. Or, you might try meditation, contemplation or prayer. Late at night, when everything is still, is a wonderful time for contacting the goodness within and around you.
Over-the-counter sleeping pills are not recommended.
If you fear your insomnia is severe, see your doctor.
On the other hand, you may find yourself sleeping "too much." There is no such thing as "too much" sleep after a loss. Sleep until you wake up. Nap when you want to. Consider it part of your overall healing.
Someday I will
circle of pain
I put myself through
every time I get
hung up in someone.
I'll have a lot of time
to do it, too.
The insomnia's beginning.
Sexual Desire May Change
A decrease--or complete lack--of sexual desire is often experienced after a loss. It is nothing to worry about. The body needs its energy for healing, and it automatically channels all available energy to that purpose.
Also common after loss is difficulty--or inability--to perform sexually. While frustrating and sometimes embarrassing, this, too, is nothing to worry about. Now is not the time to put more pressure on yourself. It's OK to take a break from sex for a while.
Full sexual desire and functioning will naturally return when the body has had a chance to heal itself.
who took the
L out of
Remaining Distraught Is No Proof of Love
Remaining distraught for a long period of time is not proof that you "really loved."
Of course you really loved. If you hadn't, you wouldn't have felt the loss in the first place. The fact that you can heal rapidly is proof that you are focusing your energies on healing, not that you didn't love fully or completely.
You are not duty-bound to feel pain any longer than it's actually there.
I am missing you
far better than
I ever loved you.
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Dr. Bloomfield, please click here
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