Over the past couple of entries, I have been taking time to have a look at what I call the 3 R’s. Three experiences that you must have before you can begin to manage your grief and heal.

The first R is Realize. Realize that the person who you loved is gone.

This same need for realization exists for losses that do not involve death. In fact, anytime we hurt from something important taken away from us, we will need to find a way to grasp the reality of the loss.

Realize has the potential to be difficult to understand.

If you have never been touched by acute sadness from the death of someone that you love, if you have never experienced the loss of something very close to you, then it may seem very strange to have to come to a place where you must struggle to grasp what has happened.

Looking in from the outside you might say,

“ What’s the problem? You saw your loved one die, what’s to realize?”

With the end of a relationship the on- looker might say,

“You saw your partner pack their bags and move out, what’s to take in?”

And so it goes with grief. Those who suffer from the agony of someone or something taken from them may need time to digest what might seem to be obvious to others.

Take the time you need to allow the event to sink in and permit yourself to be dazed and confused. Not knowing exactly what happened and not being certain if your loss was real or a nightmare is all to be expected.

Realize that the loss actually occurred.

The second R is much less difficult to understand. This one is clear to the person who is sad and experiencing grief and to anyone looking on.

The Second R is Recognize. Recognize what this loss means for you.

This is where you will spend most of your time when you are sad, lost and suffering. This is where the pain sets in and where you will hurt for a long time.

As you survey your life and take stock, you can’t help but begin to notice what’s changed, what’s gone and what you are left with.

In the case of a loved one dying, the list of changes and differences that you will begin to recognize for your life are enormous. There are so many places where you will see and feel an instant change, and still many more where the changes will take time before they are apparent.

This is so large and important let’s stay with Recognize as it pertains to death today and next week I will speak to Recognize in places that do not involve death.

Once you “collect” yourself and actually get through realizing that the person that you love is gone, you can begin to focus on how important this loss is for you.

It’s impossible to understand the significance that the death of an important person in your life holds for you right away. In fact, depending on the depth and meaning of the relationship, recognizing the significance that this death holds for you may take many months.

You will begin to recognize how your daily routine is affected.

In the case of a partner, a child or a parent dying, the things that you did and the things that you understood as a part of your daily life are permanently altered.

Let me focus on loosing a partner.

There is no more communication, sharing and doing together.

The daily talking and togetherness is gone. The playing together, the struggling together and the deciding together are no more.

The routines that you had ingrained in your being as a part of who you were are gone.

There is no one to have meals with and no one to choose the food with. There is no one to sleep with, or touch, no one to share with or struggle with as you face critical decisions or personal turmoil.

Everything that was done and experienced as a part of a couple is now gone and will never return, and that is very painful and takes a long while to digest and grasp.

No more birthdays together, Christmas’s or special holidays that you shared depending on your tradition. There is no more planning for the future or hoping for a better or a different tomorrow, because all of that is permanently gone and will never be back

There is even no more us, there is only you. The couple, the unit, and all of the connections to that relationship are dissolved. Two have ceased to be; only one remains.

I feel mean even writing this. That’s how severe and traumatic Recognizing can be.

Recognizing what this loss means for you is enormous, painful and necessary to go though before any real healing is possible.

I had a love but now I do not.

I had a special connection but that is gone.

I saw myself as a part of a couple, but I cannot any longer.

We had hopes and dreams for tomorrow that are gone.

We planned and struggled and hoped together. Now I am alone.

I had a lover and a friend and a safe place. I do not any longer.

I had a vision of tomorrow that has been shattered and lost.

I was committed and involved, secure and certain. Now I am none of these things.

I have no real idea what I am left with, who I am, or what will become of me….I am simply without.

The second R is Recognize. Recognize what this loss means for you.