How satisfying is your life right now? Eventually, this is one of the important questions grief forces us to address. Whether your loss was recent or years ago, if grief is left to its own, there will come a time that the pain of loss will show up in how you handle relationships, work, environment, and other facets of life. The path to this question alone can be circuitous, painful, and a result of your grief. Your loss creates chaos. You try to go on without your loved one. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Life is changed. Horribly changed. Life is not the same. Nor will it ever be.
Here you are, wondering about your loss and what you can do. You know that life isn’t satisfying, obviously, but in what way? Can you explain beyond the pain and spinning in place, what your grief is doing to you? If you find yourself in the “insanity” of doing the same thing and expecting different results, then this is the signal that you are prepared to do that Work of Grief. When you decide you don’t want to or just can’t be alone in the journey any longer, you are ready. But do you know where to start? What is the Work of Grief? What really waits on the other side? Can you allow yourself happiness, energy, peace and love again?
Your Journey Starts With the Wheel of Life
Finding a starting point on your grief path today begins with this moment: how your life is right now. Grief coaching is a process to support your walk through loss with great respect for your loved one and memories. The ups and downs of grief when you mourn your past and loved one can be so confusing. In coaching, a walk around the Wheel of Life brings you into focus on today as a foothold for the journey through grief. The Wheel of Life tool for coaching is a gift to you. This exercise can be “X marks the spot” for your personal Navigating Grief map. By completing your level of satisfaction on the Wheel of Life, you begin to:
- Discover the impact of your loss on all areas of your life right now.
- Create, through visualizing and mapping, what it is you want your life to become.
- Share how loss and grief has changed your life and shapes your future.
You didn’t choose this road of loss, but you do get to choose which way to go.
The Work of Grief is everything between now and moving into the life you desire, or creating Life by Design. The Work of Grief occurs from the moment of change that death or diagnosis appeared until the moment you declare your own sense of peace and acceptance without your loved one. You get through grief with acknowledgement, reflection, education and desire. Grief work includes the person who died, the intersection of time and meaning with them, and the person who lives on – you. The work of grief is moving your life areas from “not satisfied” to “very satisfied.” Or happy, or peaceful or whatever you choose to recognize as your new beginnings.
As painful as it may be without your loved one, there are many beautiful moments yet to discover, appreciate, and capture that will help carry you forward into your Life by Design – the other side of grief. Where do you need to fill in your life? And with what, or how, or whom? Where is there strength waiting inside you? With the Life Wheel, you choose the first steps in the most important life areas for you. It isn’t easy, as you already know, but there is a way.
More on The Life Areas on the Wheel
The Wheel of Life (above) is divided into 8 areas representing your life, activities and relationships. As you go through each area ask yourself, “How satisfying is this part of my life?” Use a scale of 0 – 3 Not Satisfied. 4-7 OK or Neutral. 8-10 Very Satisfied or Happy. Remember, this picture creates how you see your life presently. There is room to make a change in any area as you do the Work of Grief. By viewing your life in a visual format you discover just where grief has made some bumps and ruts along your path. Download a printable Wheel of Life with instructions here.
Physical Environment Usually home, but any major surroundings and the way it is kept such as clutter, sparseness, and your sense of ownership and belonging.
Work/Career Work may be a career, or simply a means to financial independence. The majority of your day may revolve around this life area. Work can indicate how fulfilled and engaged you are with the outside world, or make visible the mask you wear.
Family/Friends For some, “family” and “friends” are the same; other people may have family very distinct from friends. The bottom line is, are you getting what you need from the people you call family and friends? In a time of loss and feeling vulnerable, viewpoints on family and friends’ behaviors and a sense of support may take a major shift. Sometimes for the better, other times… not so much.
Financial Loss may have a huge direct negative or positive flow impact on finances or not even seem relevant. However, if grief has affected health or work, then the secondary cost might be financial.
Intimacy/Romance It doesn’t have to be the loss of a spouse to affect the closest relationship in your life. Pushing away the ones you have loved most can follow a significant loss of any type. Conversely, perhaps this shared experience brings your together. Often partners, especially if grieving the same person, have a different timetable of their own, adding to the confusion of loss.
Health/Self-care Usually, the most observable aspect of grief (stress) is your health and the self-care or priority for self-care you put forth. Energy level, pain, mental and emotional states, medical… mind and body can’t be separated try as we might.
Personal/Spiritual Finding purpose, meaning, religion, spirituality… The deepest sense of being and understanding loss and life resides in this life area. This is your personal growth area. Faith can as easily be shaken to the core of doubt as easily as it can be seemingly the only light of hope, depending on your life (and death) philosophy. This can also be the time you find your philosophy or connect with your inner spiritual life in profound new ways.
Social/Fun Is it even OK to think of fun and social life in the midst of grief? Isolation resides here along with guilt when going out is unfathomable. But over-imbibing to numb the pain is also a known response under the guise of trying to have some fun. Social and Fun are an area of life that is the proverbial chicken and egg, as you determine which comes first for feeling better on your Wheel of Life. Do you socialize as a way to remember you can have fun, or feel better before you consider being social?
With insight comes a choice: Do nothing, do something. What is your next step on the journey? If this wheel has helped you learn more about Navigating Grief you are encouraged to keep the exploration going by joining our Writing Community, reading more articles on this website or contact us with your questions or interest in personal grief coaching. And, of course, your comments are welcomed.