My Grief Journey: the 5-step process

I have experienced loss in my life since I was a pre-teen. My great grandparents died within months of each other, during my eighth grade year. My cousin was killed when I was a sophomore in high school. And, there have been several other significant deaths in my life throughout the years. However, nothing prepared me for the unexpected death of my beloved spouse.

In Spring 2014, my life changed in one day, in a way that I could have never imagined. My husband was complaining of leg cramps, after halting his tennis game earlier in the day. He did not share any other complaints and just wanted to rest; believing that he would feel better after a good nights sleep. Unfortunately, he never saw the next day, having died before a new day arrived.

I was not sure how I was going to get through the next few hours, let alone making it through almost eleven months since his transition. As I prepare to launch a virtual grief support group, I want to share with you the five avenues that have helped me on my journey as a widow:

1. Having community- My family, friends, church family, colleagues and a number of others have all showed up in supportive ways and continue to do so. They check on me on a regular basis, some have baby sat my daughter and one couple has invited my daughter and I into their home every Tuesday for dinner. All of these gestures has helped me to hold on to the love that surrounds me and not focus on what I have lost.

2. Therapy- My first therapy appointment was three weeks after my husband's death. I knew that my healing process needed to include professional counseling. It was important for me to have an objective view to discuss my pain, frustrations and fears. If you don't like the first therapist you see, that's okay. You should keep searching until you find the right person for you.

3. Self-care- My personal regiment includes building a stronger relationship with God, getting periodic massages, indulging in quiet time to journal my thoughts and spending time with my family and friends. You must take time for you; nurturing your soul as it heals from major loss.

4. Allow yourself to feel- Tears have been cleansing for me; allow them to flow whenever and wherever they come. When I'm angry, I speak it out loud so that I am not bottling my emotions. If I need more time to just lay in the bed, I take it. It is allowing yourself to feel whatever you feel that will often help you get through the tough moments. There is no right or wrong way.

5. Keep moving- I received these instructions early on, ironically, from my husband. He had written a blog about his grief journey in losing his mother. His advice was, in your mourning, "keep moving." So, through the hurt, through the sadness, through the lack of understanding...I move. The action that you take will open new doors of opportunity and help you in your own journey.

These are just a few of the methods that have helped me maintain a positive outlook on life and not get trapped by depression, frustration or anger. I know there are brighter days ahead.

What has helped you deal with loss in your life?