top of page

            After ‘what’ is the ‘why’ of survivors’ grief


In the dictionary, why infers a suggestion, “whether agreed upon or to make one.” It also refers to a “reason” something is said or done—the discussion of ‘what’ from the previous blog specifies the cause of a thing. 


Regarding survivors’ grief, ‘what’ is a spouse's death, which leads to a long list that follows. What do I do? What is this guilt? What did I do or not do? Obviously, there are more ‘what’s,’ all based on the individuals’ circumstances. These become the elements of importance in journaling.


After that, the ‘what’ remain but changes to a variety of ‘why’s’ in a reactive manner. This reactive moment can last for a long time. The nerves are on edge, and the anger is a fresh wound on the tip of the tongue lashed out at anyone when it is prompted. I use the word ‘prompt’ since it is less aggressive or linked to the finality of the word ‘trigger’ or a ‘button’ to be pushed.


Why is it necessary to express emotional pain on paper? It uses the senses to absorb, assimilate and accept the anguish, despair, and anger relative to the loss. Once on paper, the immediate emotion is confronted and questioned as to why it is felt—again providing a reason for journaling. Is it cathartic to journal? Absolutely. But the underlying purpose is to use the 3 A’s-absorb, assimilate, and accept.


Also, why is it aligned with the past negative-ego prompts of growing up? All those experiences of stacked and imprinted emotional and physical stimuli. They compounded the reactive nature of being human as an adult and become reflected in the present state of survivor’s grief.


Attaching “Why” to the following “whats”


What is important?

What to use?

What to avoid?

What from the past?

What is a benefit?


Provides insight into the assimilation of emotion by asking, “Why?” Then, when written in a journal fulfills the role of the senses in offering fuel to the mind. To catalog and compartmentalize the chemistry of emotion in memory.


Raising the question of ‘why’ also creates avenues for new prompts based on positive intentions of forethought as a result of a pause. To pause allows for the assimilation of a prompt. Analyzing and accepting the positive intention of the purpose changes neurochemistry. Thereby changing emotional reactive behavior to responsive thought and actions.

                                           Know that you are not alone!



I want to ask you three questions.

     When you speak about a situation with health challenges…


What are the words you choose to describe the challenge?

Do you feel or sense changes in how your body reacts to the words you express?

Do you look for a diversion?


These questions help to formulate a direction of acceptance of grief. I know the impact on a person’s psychological and physical well-being. I struggled with my demons of loss and guilt during my wife’s treatment for breast cancer and jumped into the rabbit hole with both feet when she died in 2004.


I learned valuable lessons over the next four years. Yes, it took me a long time. Everyone emotionally run over by breast cancer’s insidious nature can move forward over time. A myth about the word (time). Time doesn’t heal all wounds.” Time may be on our side, but the relevance to healing and finding peace is disconnected. 


It is a roller coaster ride of emotional disquiet. One day I am fine, with a manageable level of emotion; the next, all fire and brimstone. 


The point is; that I reached a juncture of choice. I turned my back on the back wall of my cave, my rabbit hole of despair. The rattle of my Jack-in-the-box emotional receptacles challenges me every day. In the past, they rattled my spirit; now, they tickle my emotions with a smile and a laugh. I intimately connected to them, understood them and refused to let them define me, and arrived at a point of acceptance and personal forgiveness. I use the what, why, and how format to correctly put the emotional demons in perspective.

bottom of page