Negative emotions are a part of life and grief; however, if we give a place in our hearts and minds for these emotions to fester, they will gain strength and lead to other negative feelings. As a result we begin to emotionally spiral downward. Dwelling on them allows them to become part of our character and to literally define us. Learning how to redirect negative emotions by acting on Principles and Values helps move past them and move forward in our healing.
Despair is the opposite of hope. When our lives are turned upside down the response can often be to feel despair. Unchecked despair can turn to situational depression. Many individuals who are already predisposed to clinical depression find themselves thrust downward by the death of a loved one. Because depression has biological, physiological, and behavioral components medical help is often required in conjunction with steps to combat feelings of despair.
Feelings of loneliness are impossible to avoid with the death of a spouse. Those feelings are a testament to the love that we felt for them. However, loneliness can become a crippling problem if we choose to withdraw from others in an attempt to protect ourselves. Conversely loneliness can lead to problems when we seek to fill the void is left by the death of our spouse with substance abuse or unhealthy relationships. Loneliness is useful in the extent that it can help us feel empathy toward others and can lead us to reach out and help those who are also suffering.
Fear is the result of focusing on events that may occur in the future. It happens when our faith fails. It is the result of pulling real pain from the past or imagined pain and projecting it on what might be. Choosing to stay present and building our faith in God can help us combat fear.
Regret is a normal part of losing a loved one. Thoughts can easily go to the past with statement such as “I could have…” “I should have…” “I wish I would have…” done something different. These thoughts can paralyze action in the present. We can learn from our past, but we cannot change it. Learning to cope and deal with feelings of regret is critical for effectively moving forward.
Anger is a normal stage of grief. We may feel angry with our spouse, someone who is responsible for his or her death, or even at God. Anger if embraced will lead to bitterness and hate. These emotions destroy our character and our relationships. Learning how to redirect thoughts of anger aid us in feeling the spirit and moving forward in healing.
When we feel we have been left without comfort and support feelings of abandonment can take over. Abandonment can take on many forms. Individuals who have suffered with spousal infidelity, abuse, depression, or suicide may have very strong feelings of abandonment based on their past experiences. Other may feel abandoned simply because of the death, asking questions such as, “How could you leave me?” Still others feel abandoned by God. Coping with feelings of abandonment will prevent stronger feelings of anger and depression from taking root.