Denial is Therapeutic
When you lose a loved one, it’s normal to feel overcome by disbelief. The numbness and the repetitive thought of “I can’t believe this has happened” is all too common. You might wake up and sense someone on the other side of the bed, wander into his room, expect her to come home at a certain time or call you on the phone. This is a common reaction.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. first identified these types of reactions in her book, On Death and Dying, as denial, the first stage of grief. Denial is a natural part of the grieving process and can be viewed as your mind’s way of protecting you: You may find yourself moving from distraction to the reality and back again. In order to relieve some of the acute physical and emotional stress you are experiencing, your mind temporarily “forgets” that you’ve lost your loved one. You need time to cope with the loss, and the denial stage allows you to process the loss over time.
The sheer number of times you’re shocked back into the reality that your loved one is no longer with you may seem unreal. Don’t criticize yourself up if you wake one morning feeling great, having forgotten that your loved one has passed. There’s no point in feeling guilty for your momentary solace.
When your sadness sets in, try to think of a happy memory associated with your loved one as you go about your routine: Try to remember a funny story associated with a dinner or a phone call your loved one made every night. These memories will help you through.