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Saturday Bike Rides with Bob: Overcoming and Recovering from Grief

Posted by Joe Antle on August 15, 2021 4:45 PM EDT
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During Saturday bike rides with Bob, most of the focus of our conversations have been around the best practices for making one's retirement and pre-retirement planning years, enjoyable and....

....purposeful.  This time, sometimes called "The Golden Years", is a time when there is more time for adults to do things that often were not available to them during their working years.  So, making the most of these years takes planning, follow-through, a bit of luck and an understanding of how to maximize one's enjoyment and meaning during this potentially joyous time for many people.  But not for all people due to financial, social, physical and health concerns, not to mention the emotional trauma of the loss of people dear to one through the aging process, including death.

This past Saturday, Bob and I turned our conversation to this more unpleasant emotional wellbeing aspect of the aging process, and the generation most often affected by it... especially baby boomers.  For while there are rich opportunities for enjoyment, happiness and fulfillment, this is a time when most baby boomers are people who are also confronted with the common emotional pain of grieving due to the loss of loved ones, friends and family who have played important roles in their lives and who will no longer be present during these otherwise potentially joyous times.  

As is often the case, I posed the question for Bob to take a first cut at it.  The question was one that Bob admitted that he has been fortunate in his life to not face its consequences too often.  But it is a question Bob has pondered often.   And as a devout man of faith, he has played a support role for others who have faced deep grief or who are facing it now, doing so with the involvement of his wefe by his side.

Bob began by sharing a compelling and recent story about good neighbors and friends, a couple with whom Bob and his wife have enjoyed happy times together.   The husband recently had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and it was giving him trouble.  However, a tragedy befell the couple when he accidentally fell in their hot tub and drowned.  His wife had been deeply supportive emotionally of her husband, and was the primary caregiver for his physical needs.  He was the center of her life and she had devoted great efforts to make his life comfortable.  So, his sudden death threw her into a "tailspin".  Bob shared her journey, which he and his wife had invested some activities in terms of staying in contact and letting her know they cared.

And soon enough, she arrived at the conclusion that she has much life yet to live and therefore she reached back out to Bob, his wife and other friends who collectively became an unoffical support group for her, assisting in her grief recovery process.  This has resulted in this loving wife, now a widow, finding a path from which recovery from her grief could help her once again regain happiness, purpose and enjoyment in her life.

In telling this story, Bob was able to demonstrate what he feels from his observations, readings and faith are the best practices for dealing with grief and moving back into a rich, healthy and puposeful life afterward.

Here the three steps that Bob cited for recovering from grief and re-installing a life full of positive experiences, happiness and purpose:

1.  Seek refuge and find comfort in one's faith.  Learn to cope with this painful experience through reading and thinking deeply about loss, and coming to terms with the grief.  This may take some time in the making and it may result in a time of deep refuge.  But it is a necessary first step in the grieving and recovery process.

2. Proactively seek support and spend meaningful time with dear friends and family members.  And by all means, do not pass up the gifts of these dear friends who may be reaching out to you.  Embrace them and invest fully your heart in their support.

3.  Find a new purpose for the rest of one's life.  This could mean being in support groups for others going through the grieving process.  It certainly could include Bobs "LIVE" approach of "Learning, Impact, Volunteering and Experiences".

In this third step, Bob advocates giving one's selves, the gift of time to explore new aspects of their lives, investing heavily in the friends that have been great supports during the worst times of one's grieving and including one's friends and family in various aspects of the new purpose and experiences. This most certainly may include the discovery of new friends,  perhaps, who are by-products of one's new found purpose in this final phase of one's life.

With that, and aftre asnwering several follow-up questions from me, Bob suggested we do some advance thinking about an entirely new topic.  In teeing-up this new topic, he said that he feels it could benefit him in his management consulting practice and could be equally valuable to me in my new role in business development with my employer. 

That topic is how to make sure that one is letting others speak 70% of the time, while we invest 30% of our time in asking good questions which stimulate the 70% of the time others are doing the talking.  

While Bob was quick to say he thought this discussion would be a great help to him, I know the knows that I know it would be a good topic for me.  Stay tuned...and stay on track!

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