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Through Which Window Are You Viewing Your Life After Loss?

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While driving a car, it’s important to see things from two different viewpoints — through the windshield and in the rearview mirror.

The windshield is large and designed to protect you by showing a clear view of your present surroundings and a short distance down the road ahead.

The rearview mirror is much smaller. You periodically glance into the rearview mirror to see what is behind you to make sure that you’re safe. You should only look in it occasionally to see what’s behind you. What happens if you get stuck looking in that rearview mirror too long and forget to come back to the present view through the windshield? The results will be most likely be devastating.

It’s the same with our lives… and with grieving. It’s important to look back to the past in order to grieve, to heal and to remember. Memories are an important part of healing. Being able to move forward with your memories tucked safely away in your heart helps you to heal. The question is how much time and energy do you devote to looking back?

If we largely focus on the “rearview mirror,” sooner or later we are going to “crash,” whether in our cars or in our lives. We become so focused on looking backwards and feeling pain that our Present becomes neglected.

Remember that the size of our car windshield might just represent its importance. The task is to stay in the moment as much as possible. We can attempt to look towards the future, but must acknowledge that we have limited visibility at best, especially when looking through the eyes of grief. We cannot look beyond what we can actually see… now.

Staying in the present moment makes grief and pain more manageable. It’s often too painful to look only into the past… and we often conjure up a bleak future imagining it through grieving eyes. That conjured future is usually not true. It’s imagined through a heart that is wounded and influenced by a fear of what may come. Being mindful and staying in the present moment creates a time that is more manageable… and most often more peaceful for your grieving process, heart and soul.

Ask yourself, where are you spending your time? Are you looking at life through your windshield… or your rearview mirror?

By Jo Christner, Psy.D.