Finding a Safety Zone: A Post by Jim

Photo by Jim MillerAndrea S. Gould has written a book about her experiences after the sudden death of her husband. She also writes, as a practicing psychotherapist, in an instructive way to share her learnings with those who might follow her on this journey through grief.

Andrea entitled her book The Virgin Widow, which she defines as an innocent, first-time bereaved woman. She writes of such people—and the word “virgin” in this context could also be applied to widowed men, grieving parents, and bereaved children—that they find themselves “being forced into a new, unwelcome, and radically shifted world-picture that eerily—frustratingly—contains many of the same objects, people, and places, although we see these in a different light.”

Perhaps Andrea’s experience is your own. The picture of your world is in many ways the same as it used to be, physically, and yet that picture is so entirely different from the way it used to look to you. What used to give you comfort is not to be found. What used to give you pleasure no longer does. What you used to take for granted will never be that way again.

In her book Andrea describes what helped her most:

For me, “staying in the present” was of primary importance, both as a safety zone between the poignancy of a lost past and the frightening uncertainty of an abstract future….Moving in slow motion, I anchored my awareness in the spectrum of sensation and sanctuary that each moment offered.

Perhaps her experience mirrors your own—that you have a lost past and an uncertain, abstract future. If so, take to heart what she learned: choosing to stay consciously in the present moment may help as much as anything in making your way through the labyrinth of grief. In the moment you can be in touch with, and feel yourself a part of, the created world. In the moment, you can deal with whatever that single moment presents to you, a bit at a time. In the moment, you can learn to live in that precious safety zone you’re coming to know right now until you’re able, one day, to return to that larger life you once experienced, and can experience yet again.

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