The final piece of the puzzle is a nice short one encapsulating the main lessons of the Happy Place strategies: control and release.
It all comes down to choice around my own actions and thoughts. There are different perspectives, factors and I don’t have to be lead by my emotions at all times. There will be times when I fail and there may be times I want to be lead by my emotions but it’s better for all concerned when that is a choice not an automatic reaction.
It took real effort to write a happier version of my sons lives in part because I have become so used to writing the sadder version. I can be upset at what happened for there is much to be upset about but I can also make a choice to look at that story in a different way, retelling it to bring out the forgotten but no less valuable positive aspects.
There may be parts that I am angry about but I can try and assess the parts that were and were not within my control and find either peace or a motivation to take action to address the bits I can’t control but through sharing my experience and story and that of others can seek to influence.
I am surrounded by triggers, not in the maligned sense of the word but prompts around me that remind me of what I had and what I lost. Some of these can be welcome and some of them may be in my control. If I listen to a sad song that calls me back to those days I can choose to listen and immerse myself in those feelings and memories or I can change the track to something else, maybe more nostalgic but less melancholic or terrifying.
It has taken a long time to get to this point and I will fail at applying these. The important thing is that now I have a different set of tools I can use to start again when I do fail. It won’t be a zero point, failure is part of it and is necessary to learn what works and when it works best. It’s not about negating negative emotions or living in some sort of bland zen state but constantly adapting to the changing nature of my grief. This is by no means a one-size fits all approach and your mileage will vary but I hope that at least some of these ideas give you hope or resonate with you and help you work out your new normal.