The 1000 Guitar Strings

As you move forward following the death of your loved one, your life will start to become normal again. Okay, it’s a ‘new normal’ but you will probably return to work, going shopping, start playing football, or netball again and just try to get on with your life. Yes it’s difficult when you start, but it’s a necessary process which will help you in the coming months and years.

The ‘guitar string’ reference refers to things that you tend to do naturally e.g. talking with friends over a coffee, having a few beers down the pub etc. Often clients will tell me they felt guilty because they had been out the previous day and really enjoyed themselves. They hadn’t been thinking of their loved one all the time because they were chatting and enjoying themselves. This means they were concentrating on the conversation and having fun, which was really good for them!

It will be good for you too, as it will show you are adapting to your new situation. One of those 1000 guitar strings has just snapped – you have actually been able to do something you wanted to do, without continually thinking about your loss. You have been able to become slightly detached from your loss for a short time.

So you are demonstrating to yourself that you are able to ‘let go’ a little bit – and each time you do this, just imagine one of the guitar strings breaking. Don’t worry, you’ll never run out of strings, but it seems to help clients to visualise a physical ’letting go’ i.e. snapping string.

Also, I’ve previously mentioned guilt and why bereaved people often feel guilty about how, and why their loved one died. This is looking at guilt from the past.

But, what about potential guilt about your new future? This is more relevant for adults who have lost husbands/wives/partners. People tell me and my colleagues that when they start to socialise and enjoy themselves again, they feel guilty. Shouldn’t I be terribly sad all the time? Well actually no! It’s not an ongoing requirement. You already realise you feel sad because you have experienced a traumatic moment in your life. However, you have to get on with your own life at some stage. You need to remain healthy to help other bereaved relatives within your immediate family. This might be children, or ageing parents. Ideally, you don’t want them to be worrying about your state of health and wellbeing.

A gentle way of introducing new social opportunities is to join a walking club, where there is often a mixture of couples, widows and widowers. These new acquaintances will probably have previously experienced people joining the group who have been bereaved. It can be a good way of learning to socialise as a single person, and to break a few more strings…