From Surviving to Transcending Your Grief  

Recognizing Your Own Progress

How do you know youíre making progress in your mourning? Remember that change isnít always obvious and dramatic; it is a process that takes place over time. The grief experience is different for everyone; it doesnít happen all at once or at the same rate of speed. And unless youíre aware of the clues to recovery and their significance, your progress through grief may be so subtle and so gradual that you will not notice it at all.

If you can recognize certain changes in attitudes, feelings and behaviors in yourself, you can measure your own progress through grief. Become aware of your own healing. Notice when you are able to

  • Drive somewhere by yourself without crying the entire time.  
  • Get through a day without feeling tired all the time.  
  • Concentrate on a book, movie or television program.  
  • Not think of your loved one for a period of time, however brief.  
  • Get through a few hours or days nearly free of pain.  
  • Return to a daily routine.  
  • Eat, sleep and exercise normally again.  
  • Participate in a religious service without crying.  
  • Accept invitations from friends and family.  
  • Listen to music you both loved without crying.
  • Be more aware of the pain and suffering of others around you.  
  • Be more patient with yourself and with others.  
  • Notice others in like circumstances, and recognize and accept that loss is a common life experience.  
  • Reach out to another in a similar situation.  
  • Realize that the sometimes thoughtless comments of others stem from ignorance, not malice
  • Find something to be thankful for.  
  • Be patient with yourself through grief attacks.  
  • Feel confident again.  
  •  Accept things as they are without trying to recapture the way they used to be.
  • Think less about the past.  
  • Look forward to the day ahead of you.  
  • Reach out to the future less fearfully.  
  • Stop and notice lifeís little pleasures, the splendor of creation and the beauty in nature.  
  • Catch yourself smiling and laughing again.  
  • Feel comfortable spending time alone.  
  • Remember your loved one less idealisticallyó as less perfect, with more human than saintly qualities
  • Review both pleasant and unpleasant memories without being overcome by them.  
  • Reinvest the time and energy once spent on your loved one.  
  • Remodel your space: rearrange furniture; change colors and textures of walls
  • Re-make your image: change your hairstyle, make-up or clothing.  
  • Explore new foods, new places and new things.  
  • Feel more in control of your emotions and less overwhelmed by them.  
  • Feel freer to choose when and how to grieve.  
  • Talk about your loss more easily.  
  • Feel less preoccupied with yourself and your loss.  
  • Feel a renewed interest in giving love and receiving it.  
  • Look back and see your own progress.  
  • Notice that time doesnít drag as much; the weekends arenít as long.  
  • Notice that the good days outnumber the bad; the mood swings arenít as wide; the time between upsets is greater.  
  • Plan the future more effectively.  
  • Think more clearly and feel more in control of certain aspects of your life.  
  • Make decisions and take responsibility for the consequences.  
  •  Feel open to new and healthy relationships while maintaining old ones.  
  • Discover abilities in yourself you havenít developed before or didnít even know you had.  
  • Fill some of the roles once filled by your loved one, or find others who can fill them.  
  • Recognize that loss has played an important part in your life, and that growth can be a positive outcome.
  • Identify how this experience has changed you for the better: what youíve learned, what youíve become, and how youíve grown.  
  • Share the lessons you have learned through loss with others.  

Copyright © by Martha M. Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC    All rights reserved

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