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How to Grieve a Tragedy

By Stephen Bucaro

Bad things happen to good people. Have you lost your job or are facing bankruptcy? Has a cherished relationship ended or you have gone through a divorce? Maybe you received diagnosis of a serious health problem. Or maybe you are mourning the loss of a loved one. Unfortunately, these painful events are part of life.

If you have to endure such a tragedy, maybe you can find solace in your friends and in your faith. There is no way to completely avoid the pain of a tragic event, but I offer you a way to work through the pain. If a friend or loved one is grieving, you can pass this message on to them.

Your should deal with the grief in three phases. You should carry on each phase for exactly 21 days before moving on to the next phase. Why 21 days? Because studies have shown that if an individual does the same thing for 21 consecutive days, it becomes a habit. That is the amount of time required to make a permanent life change.

Phase 1: Don't think about the event that is causing your grief. You may be forced to think about it in some way in order to take care of business related to the event. But otherwise don't think about it for the first 21 days. If the event comes to mind, think to yourself "I don't want to think about this right now", and dismiss the thought from your mind.

Every time the tragic event enters your mind, think "I don't want to think about this right now", and force yourself to think about something else. Usually friends and family will not be a problem because they will avoid bringing up the subject. For the first 21 days, keep pushing thoughts of the event out of your mind.

Eventually you will need to mourn, it's unavoidable. In Phase 2, you should think of nothing but the tragic event. How can this help? Even though you forcefully prevented the event from entering your conscious thoughts for the first 21 days, your subconscious mind was grieving. Now you need to deal with it on a conscious level.

You will be able to grieve with less pain now because your subconscious mind has already dealt with it. You can't put the tragedy behind you unless you deal with it on a conscious level. For the next 21 days, force yourself to focus on the tragic event.

If the tragedy is a broken relationship, think about the life you could have had if things worked out the way you dreamed. If the tragedy is the death of a loved one, think about the moments of your lives together. Focus entirely on how much that individual meant to you.

Phase 3: It's time to move forward. For the next 21 days, think only of your future life and changes you will need to make. Plan your new life. What changes do you need to make to carry on under your new circumstances?

Unfortunately, painful events are part of life. Bad things happen, but life moves on. My plan doesn't let you totally avoid the grief of a tragedy, and not letting yourself grieve would not be healthy anyway. I promise you, no matter what the loss, in the end, the human spirit will always survive.

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