A Narrative of Love
In 2015 Psychotherapist Patrick O’Malley published an article in the New York Times that shed light on the cultural and professional expectations concerning a persons’ grief. His article challenged readers to redefine grief and loss as a transformative occurrence that impacts and shapes a persons’ life. In the past, grief has been seen as a hurtle to overcome, an experience to “move past, get over.” O’Malley speaks of the integration of loss into a persons’ life as a ‘narrative of love’ that honors the past relationship and deepens the soul.
If we can’t “get over” grief, how do we integrate these painful experiences into a balanced and healthy future? A narrative of love is a practice, a set of tools, and a winding path that we can travel to increase resilience and connection after the death of a loved one.
Tell your story.
A narrative is a story of connected events. Using words, images, song, or movement narratives can be shared and expressed. Telling the story of your loved one and your loss helps us integrate the experience physically, mentally, and spiritually. Sharing your loss with others who are safe and receptive strengthens our ability to “hold” our pain and eases the burden of early loss.
Keep Loving Them.
Although our loved one is not physically present in our daily lives the connection we shared lives on in our surroundings, our memories, and the people and items they left behind. Using ritual helps us strengthen our relationship with our loved one and externalize our grieving process. Keep a shrine for your loved one, light a candle on their birthday, or make time to speak with other’s who knew them about your best memories together.
Let Go of “Shoulds.”
Grief is a coat of many colors, fabrics, textures, and frequencies. Throughout your life your grief will change and evolve. It will surprise you in its intensity and at times seem to dissipate all together. Whether you have just experienced a loss or are many years removed from the event, try not to place expectations on yourself or on your grieving experience.
A narrative of love is the process by which we care for ourselves after loss. The way a person creates and expresses their narrative will be different and the pace at which we follow the path will be unique. Remember that the narrative of love is ongoing, it is transformative, and it is a journey best shared.
Struggling with your narrative? Argo can help. 443-906-3506.