For almost 20 years, Ancilla our management consulting company has helped facilitate breakthrough change for over a hundred local and multinational companies in the country and the Asean region with much success. We have bannered the fact that we are in the business of Transforming Asia's Enterprises. With technology from our Silicon Valley partners Enterprise Development Group we grew in expertise, capacity and competence. We helped manage the two sides of change the organization and the people as they transition. Never did I think that one day radical personal change can rock my paradigms. It was like an earthquake shaking under your feet and suddenly you fall deep,deep down, feeling helpless and inconsolable. This is my recent experience with the recent death of my beloved husband.
Managing personal change
All the frameworks about managing personal change helped but did not do enough to move me forward. It involved emotional, physical and mental changes intricately wrapped together. I remember an author talking about emotion. Its Latin root means to set in motion. The writer said When you are right emotionally, you can perform emotionally to bring to light all the talent and skill within you and make big things happen. But when you are wrong emotionally, all the talent and skill in the world won't save you.
But what if you are right to feel the way you do because you are grieving the death of a beloved, then you accept that you lose temporary use of your talent and skills. You tell yourself, I give myself time and space to mourn. I will not hurry the return of emotional flexibility, responsiveness and resiliency. This how it was for me with the recent death of my spouse.
Like a boat tossing in the ocean
As MorikelUeshiba puts it, Depending on the circumstance, you should be as hard as a diamond, flexible as a willow, smooth flowing like water or as empty as space. So I chose to be as a small boat in an ocean, tossed left and right with no direction, just taking in the flow of the tides and sleeping and waking up, eating food that all seem tasteless, watching the flow of friends, family and clients extending sympathy and friendship and embracing what the present moment brings.
High quality break
It was time for a high quality break. It meant recovering from strong physical stress that expends energy and rest and recovery to restore energy. It meant allowing oneself to break away from the to do list, forget about time management and surrender to the fact that time moves and one has to stop controlling how it moves. It means mastering temporarily the art of not doing anything.
Recovery from grieving meant regaining not just physical wholeness as evidenced by the ability to sleep, reduction of sleepiness and fatigue and reduced muscle tension, it is also recovering emotionally and mentally. Emotional recovery means: emotional relief, fun and enjoyment, increase in positive emotions, reduced distress and feelings of self and safety.
Mental recovery means mental relief, increased calmness, broadening of attention, and increased creativity, imagery and fantasy.
How does one know if one is moving towards balanced recovery? It is to accept the neutral zone meaning to work hard and play hard, to go and then let go, to be active and then idle. It also means to make things happen and then let it happen and to maintain healthy work-rest ratios.
One article that helped me as I was packing my things in Rome coming from a retreat cum vacation to rush home to my sick husband who was near death, was an article in the Catholic Digest entitled, Grieving Over Those We Love by Dr. Lisa Kleiwiki. She cites a book Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy by psychologist William Worden about the 4 tasks of mourning and faith view of death.
Tasks of mourning
One, is acceptance. This is not easy, accepting the reality of the loss. It is accepting the physical absence of the loved one, causing sadness and loneliness. The faith perspective is to know that the beloved no longer suffers physically and the soul is alive in spirit. I met a friend in Church who gave me concrete advice to make acceptance easier. She suggested taking out the bed for the sick and rearranging the furniture. Aside from doing this I also purchased an area rug and colorful throw pillows, and put in a nature painting that evokes peace and calm. It also included packing up all his clothes and private effects, asking the children to choose a memory piece and give the rest to charity.
Pain of grief
Two, is to go through the pain of grief. This is the stage of depression, crying, sad feelings, loss of interest in day to day life, difficulty in coping with daily life tasks and missing the loved one. With faith as Christians, we know we can offer our sufferings for our loved one and for other souls. By making the offering, we embrace our grief, loneliness and pain and open our hearts to healing and eventually to joy. As Christians, we join our forsakenness to Jesus Crucified on the Cross. It means giving ourselves time to grieve without hurry.
New way of life
Three, is move towards a new way of life. This means adjusting to an environment where the beloved is absent. This means understanding the roles the beloved used to play and getting others in the family to play these roles. It is shaping a new life where one can start to breathe again without the other. As Christians, we reach out to our community, become more active, and discover new ways to live even better spiritually. It means counting on God and His Love to sustain us.
Fourth is to remember. This means moving on with life but also finding more permanent ways of remembering. This may mean choosing a beautiful picture of the beloved, doing a video of his life with the background of his favorite music, keeping his record collection and offering masses every Sunday. It may also mean creating a project or foundation in memorial. It also means celebrating anniversaries and milestones.
Finally, I understood grieving is an individual and personal process. Each of my children had unique ways of expressing grief. This means being patient with oneself and with others, letting time and letting go of grief. Thank you to family, friends, clients and colleagues for your prayers, presence and support on the recent death of my husband.