When I was eighteen years old my first car, an orange Mini, oh yes it was, was hit by a petrol tanker with me in it. The car took all the impact of the crash and it was killed instantly whilst I was largely okay. I was in shock for a good week afterwards, not least because it was a terrible accident in which if a few minor factors had worked out differently, I would have been much more seriously injured.
However, there was a great sense of grief. My first car had represented many things to me. It was the source of my freedom, a symbol of my adulthood, a representation that I was part of a club that not all of my friends had been able to pass the test to get into. I’d use my hard-earned cash to care for it, saved up for it, even though it was largely worthless in monitory terms. It was also something I had taken great pride in. I kept it clean and fixed it when it wouldn’t start. The days following its death my grief also came from the fact that I had taken good care of this piece of machinery and it, in its final moments had taken the full force of the accident and protected me.
Yes, I know it was just a car. Everyone said this but I still felt this pain within as if someone had dropped a brick on my stomach. I randomly got upset, keep thinking of the good times. In getting upset about those too I was withdrawn, stressed and I didn’t sleep well for a good while. During the days afterwards, I had arrangements and preparation as if it were a funeral.
I had to contact the insurance, the company of the petrol tanker, the D.V.L.A. and go to the hospital and get a physical assessment done. I largely think of myself as a fairly practical, strong-willed person so I know what you’re thinking: it was just a car. My point is though that some people can experience grief for a variety of different circumstances. There will be common themes to all grief but everyone will react in their own personal way. Everyone will find comfort in different ways too.
Here are some of the things that worked for me – sort stuff. It helped me to get through the technical parts of the process as fast as possible so the sorting of bits of paper, clearing out of belongings and putting those in a new home helped.
Gather the memories that are important to keep. This doesn’t necessarily mean only positive memories. For example, my old Mini had the petrol cap stolen and it was a real pain as I was scared to drive without the petrol cap but had to drive to get a new one. Some years later my mum had all the trees from her house cut down and in amongst the branches, she found my old petrol cap. I’ve kept it because whenever I have a hair brain idea about one day getting a classic car it reminds me that my old car, despite how much I loved it, was insecure and often vandalised.
Remembering, and not just remembering the good stuff, can be important if you are grieving a relationship break-up. It can remind you that it wasn’t wonderful all of the time. It means you will only have to grieve the relationship and not the person you split up with too.
Remember that the pain goes. Although there will be good days and bad days, generally over time the pain goes and you start to feel, become and act more normal again. You will take as much time is right for you and even though in the future you may look back and still feel the sadness you will get better.
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By Gemma Bailey www.hypnotherapyandnlp.co.uk