Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Grieving the 'old', embracing the 'new'

As step-parents we often find ourselves on an emotional roller coaster. So, what's new? you might ask.

Experiencing roller coaster like emotions on our step-parenting journey isn't always the result of our current situation. It can also be connected to our past, especially if we haven't quite come to terms with the life we may have physically left behind, but from which we haven't divorced on an emotional level.

Ideally we will have said all our good-byes before we leapt into stepfamily living. If we haven't, however, it's never too late but the sooner we attend to this task, the better off we, our partners and our collective children will be.

If you've lost your partner through death or a divorce (especially if the divorce was not of your choosing) you need to expect that you will experience grief. The grieving process, as identified by Elizabeth Kuebler Ross, is made up of a number of stages.

Denial - "This just can't be happening to me".
Anger - "How could you do this to me"?
Bargaining - "I promise you whatever you want if only you come back to me!"
Depression - "I can't face the future without you".
Acceptance - "Life goes on...I will make it on my own"!

Unfortunately, these stages don't occur in neat time frames or even in the listed order. Additionally, we cannot predict how long or how short our grieving process might be. Grieving, however, is an essential process if we wish to be balanced, at peace with ourselves and our circumstances, and fully emotionally available to our new family.

So, if you frequently find yourself, flying off the handle, sad and/or depressed much of the time, incredibly irritated and/or frustrated without any apparent reason, ask yourself:
"Have I said all my good-byes?" If you realise that you haven't, NOW is a good time to begin.

Effective grieving is covered in "Hell...p, I'm a stepmother".

Copyright © Sonja Ridden 2006

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