Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace as President of the United States. John F. Stacks in Time magazine reported Nixon almost died after he left Washington due to a bout of phlebitis and that he had considered suicide. However during Nixon’s memorial service, eulogy after eulogy reviewed the significant contributions President Nixon gave to foreign policy. He was viewed as having made a positive contribution toward world peace.
The life of Bill Clinton’s mother, Virginia Kelley, was filled with challenges. She experienced the death of her first husband before Bill was born. Her second husband was an alcoholic and abusive. Yet one of her sons became President of the United States.
Viktor E. Frankl survived horrendous experiences in Nazi concentration camps. His book, Man’s Search for Meaning, written after his release became an international best seller.
What kept these individuals going? How were they able to get through each day? Viktor E. Frankl sums it up by saying a person can have everything taken away except for the freedom “to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Former President Bill Clinton says his mother “never let hardship become an excuse for her, nor would she permit it to become an excuse for us. We were supposed to be grateful for every day.” Richard Nixon deliberately decided to try to change how he was perceived. He met with foreign dignitaries and provided counsel to government leaders. He had finished his ninth book when he was hospitalized prior to his death.
You are mourning the death of a very special person. You too may wonder how you will get up in the morning. You also have the freedom to choose how you will respond. You cannot change the fact the person has died but you can change yourself.
The authors of the book The Grief Adjustment Guide offer these suggestions:
- Set your own goals, rather than goals others provide for you.
- Believe that you will not always feel as you do now.
- Make decisions carefully…one at a time.
- Build a support network of people who accept you with your grief.
- Be good to yourself.
- Get into a healthy routine of regular activities.
- Be aware of new strengths you gain as time goes by.
- Think about your relationship to your loved one in a positive way. What good things did you bring to the relationship?
- Protect your personal feelings, priorities, and values.
- Accept help graciously when you need it.
- Use your loss crisis as a stepping stone to a new life experience.
- Help yourself grow by talking about your desires and your limitations and by making your requests known to others.
- Show appreciation to people who affirm your growth.
- Remind yourself that growth is a lifelong process.
Earl Grollman, noted author on grief and loss, says “Grief is a process but recovery is a choice.” Choosing to recover requires taking life by the shoulders and giving it a good shake, according to the authors of The Grief Adjustment Guide (Greeson, Hollingsworth, R. Washburn). It means choosing to dream rather than to only remember. It means seeing the rising sun rather than the setting sun. It means hope rather than hopelessness. It means choosing to embrace life rather than just surviving. What will your choice be?