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After The Completion Letter: (Grief Recovery® Group Newsletter Winter 2020)
It's not unusual for our participants to ask about how they can build on their helpful recovery work following the 8-week group. For many, the benefits of the group program seem to be all they need to resolve the pain of their loss and move well into a new normal. Please remember that times of sadness as well as times of happiness will continue to be a part of that new normal. Some GR grads feel a lingering pain and wonder what else they can do. The good news is, there are things you can do.
Sometimes it’s helpful to review the relationship you have already graphed. You may recall additional events, positive or negative, that need to be added to your relationship graph and resolved. Thoroughness is vital here. Without full honesty, completion is not possible. This would involve attaching appropriate recovery components to each new memory, then adding a P.S. to your original letter. Be sure to finish with “I love you. I miss you. (or other, appropriate closing for you) and then “Good-bye.” The Grief Recovery Method calls us to something quite different than what we have learned and practiced for most of our lives. Repeating these steps with any new memories reinforces and builds on the recovery actions already taken.
We also encourage the completion of other losses. Consider graphing, one at a time, more losses from your Loss History Graph. Assign recovery components and compose the new letter following the same steps you took with the first one. You might reach out to a fellow group member to hear your new letter. From time to time we offer a 4-week, “Alumni Group” for this purpose. We hope to offer one this spring.
A New Way of Relating – Present Moment Completion
On pp. 155-56 of the Handbook there is a section titled WHAT DOES COMPLETION MEAN? It explains and illustrates moment-to-moment emotional processing. Simply said, this means we process feelings in the moment we have them and take the appropriate resolution steps as soon as possible. These can be positive, such as “I really appreciate you picking up those extra items on short notice!” They can come from negative circumstances, such as “I need to apologize for my harsh tone yesterday. That wasn’t good.” They can be Apologies, Forgives or Significant Emotional Statements, but remember that normally, a forgive should not be addressed directly to a living person. Forgiveness is a decision we make. The expression may be spoken silently or to God, such as “I choose to forgive Joe.” On the other hand, it could be expressed in written form and remain private or read to a trusted listener.
There are times when it’s legitimate to communicate something negative. For example, “I was disappointed that you forgot my graduation party.” This is not an attack on the other person. It’s simply an honest expression of your feelings. Only you can determine when and with whom this sort of honesty is appropriate. In this graduation party example, forgiveness is needed for recovery, but we should not forgive the person directly, except when they specifically ask and we have chosen to forgive. If a sincere apology is offered, our grateful acceptance would normally be in order.
The goal of this “Present Moment Formula” is to avoid collecting more unresolved issues in our relationships. We don’t want to be reloading our backpacks with unfinished business and unexpressed feelings. That only weighs us down and limits our capacity for life going forward.
The grief recovery method is more than a helpful, one-time group experience. It’s a new way of managing the emotions that naturally occur in relationships. It calls us to a deliberate effort over time. That’s the reason for these follow up articles. We want to experience the maximum benefit from this simple but profound process.
From our hearts to yours,
Brian and Lorri