The Third R is Rebuild. Rebuild your life without the person who has died.
After someone close to you dies you will need to spend a great deal of time dealing with the reactions and feelings associated with the first two R’s.
First, you must Realize what has happened. Actually take in the loss and allow the reality of the death to sink in.
This is generally fairly short- lived but extremely difficult to deal with. The person grieving will experience confusion, bewilderment, shock and a sense of everything being out of order. You will search for the person you love. You will feel certain on some very real level that it’s all a mistake and that they will be back, where they are supposed to be, with you and in your life.
Once you manage to stop the world from spinning and you begin to grasp that your loved one is really gone, then you will need to spend time taking it all in.
You must Recognize what the loss of this person means for you.
How will your life be different?
What day to day aspects of your life are now changed or gone?
How does life look to you without you partner, child, parent or friend?
What tangible changes to your routine, your future and your psyche will you now have to live with?
This second R, recognize what this loss means for you is long, difficult and painful. It takes a great deal of effort to truly begin to appreciate what the death of your loved one means for you, your life and your future.
Every plan associated with the person who is gone, is now shattered.
Every dream that involved them is gone.
Every place where they were intertwined with your life now and going forward is no more.
It is impossible to grasp all of the changes that you now must cope with and adjust to without a great deal of hurt.
Let me focus on the death of a partner. I know I go there often but this is a common loss, one so many of us will have to cope with and one that can cut so deeply.
There is now no longer two, only one.
There is no longer a sense of a future, because your future was based on two together.
There is no more closeness, touching and intimacy.
There is no more security, stability and certainty, because for a couple all of those things were based on the unit and not the individual.
No one to shop with
No one to eat with
No one to sleep with
No one to dream with
There is no one to hold your hand when you are down and no one to hold your head when you are sick.
There is only you and now you have the jobs of two, the responsibilities of two and the dreams of none.
Once, you have taken all this in and felt the difficult feelings associated with your new reality, only then will you be able to move forward. Once you have hurt, digested and actually begun to comprehend what has happened, what you are left with and how it feels, once you have cried and yelled and hurt until there is little hurt left, only then will you move to the final R.
Rebuild your life, without the person who has died.
This is a thought when you are grieving, that is likely to make you angry. Even the idea of rebuilding is inconceivable until the time is right and the “work” has been done. But once you are there you will know that rebuilding is exactly what you must do.
It’s a bit like saying, “ok, now that I’ve cried, felt lost, figured what I have and died inside; what do I have now and where do I go from here?”
Maurice became very angry with me sometime ago.
I will never rebuild and I will never move on. My life ended when Jennifer died. I will never have anything to look forward to again.
Poor Maurice jumped to the last chapter before reading the pages in the middle. Telling someone who is in the pain of grief that they will one day rebuild their life is like telling someone has just been given a difficult diagnosis that they should look on the bright side.
When the hurt becomes manageable and the grief work (Realize and Recognize) is done, what’s left is a resolution to move on and to move forward.
Now you are ready to live without the person who has died. It doesn’t mean you have forgotten them or discarded them or reduced them to yesterday. It means that you understand your new reality and you proceed with that in mind.
Lets imagine someone who has had badly broken leg. A leg so badly broken that surgery was needed to repair the damage.
The scar never goes away. Some amount of limp or numbness will remain and their abilities are lessoned, however, after the pain and the sting has gone, they found a way to live with their new reality.
Maurice came back to me several months later.
I am no longer angry. I understand what I have lost. I know that I will forever “walk with a limp” but I am ready nevertheless to walk, differently and with intention.
I will love her always and miss her forever but I am ready to try to make a life without her.
He sent me these words “Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives”.
The Third R is Rebuild. Rebuild Your Life Without the Person Who Has Died.