Once Lucy affirmed that belief, she knew she needed to actively choose where to pour her attention. For her, that meant focusing on her two sons, and keeping her family together. “I was determined to focus my attention on what I had, not what I’d lost.”
Being an active participant in grief also meant giving herself permission to take a break from grieving. So whenever positive experiences or emotions came her way, Lucy embraced them. People often feel guilty for laughing, or feeling joy after loss. Instead of feeling bad, Lucy says it helps to realise “that’s quite natural”.
“I was determined to focus my attention on what I had, not what I’d lost.”
She recommends creating moments of respite by doing anything that allows you to lose yourself in the moment, such as cooking, meeting with friends or watching “trashy” TV. It also helps to actively examine your thoughts and behaviours. Lucy suggests asking yourself one key question: “Is what I’m thinking or doing helping me, or is it harming me?”
She used this strategy to stop herself from poring over “what if” questions. By asking if such thinking was helping or harming her, Lucy could clearly see there was no benefit, and that it was only causing her distress. “It puts us back in the driver’s seat, enabling us to detect thoughts or behaviours that only make us feel worse,” she says.
Nowadays, Lucy is passionate about sharing her knowledge through her book, Resilient Grieving, her TED talk, “Three Secrets of Resilient People”, and her work as co-founder of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience.
Of course, being an active participant in grief doesn’t mean the process is painless, and Lucy’s heartbreak remains. But she credits being a resilience expert for helping her grieve. “It gave me a recipe for hope and a plan to help get me through.”
Make the most of your health, relationships, fitness and nutrition with our Live Well newsletter. Get it in your inbox every Monday.