When one is grieving it sometimes feels as though there are no options. Certainly much of the language that comes to mind and that we hear reinforces the belief that we are doomed to feel this pain forever.

What if that’s not true?

Let’s break it down a bit. The past is over and done, there is no doubt about that fact. While we cannot use a time-machine to go back and change an event, we can use change our feelings about the past by making deliberate choices. That is empowering.

Something I hear quite often is ‘I’ll never get over this pain, I’ll hurt like this for the rest of my life.’

However, we do have choice about our future. Understanding that we have choice about how we move forward is also incredibly empowering. But here’s the thing, we have to make that choice. Deliberately.

That’s right, making the choice to feel better is where healing begins. A powerful reason this matters is that each thought we think, each word we speak reinforces truth within our subconscious. We are literally programming ourselves to suffer or to heal, which do you prefer?

You’ve likely heard that what we focus on expands? Think about a common experience most of us relate to. Perhaps you’ve bought a blue Volkswagen Beetle. The car is new to you and you’re quite excited. Suddenly, it seems that just about anywhere you drive; you see similar cars, though you really didn’t notice them before. The only thing that’s changed is your focus.

In a similar way, when we are convinced that we must suffer deeply for an endless amount of time, we seem to be bombarded with messages that reinforce that belief.

On the other hand, if we decide today that we are open to healing, we are quite likely to notice moments that we feel better. The decision to be open to healing, to notice and appreciate progress reinforces our progress. This is power in action.

Does making this decision mean that the pain of grief will pass in that moment? Nope, it doesn’t work like that. However, making the decision to be aware that we have choice reminds us that we have some control. As we make the choice again and again and again to be aware of moments that feel better, we will notice more and more often that we are feeling better.

I encourage you to consistently apply this choice to your present moment. Remind yourself that your future is looking better and better.

Now, let’s circle back to the event which brought you this grief to begin with. Whether you are grieving a death, an ended relationship, financial loss, etc. I would encourage you to consider re-framing the event in your thoughts and language.

Decide, very deliberately decide how you prefer to think about this event, what story you are telling yourself and others. It matters.

This is not about lying, not at all; it is about shifting our focus. For instance, if I were to tell you about my son Mike, you can be assured that it’s not going to be all about his suicide death at 23 years old. Rather, you’ll hear how he made a bizarre quacking sound when he coughed for years; you’ll know that he loved knock-knock jokes and brewing his own beer and wine.

Now all of these things are part of the same story. I’m not about to deny my son’s death or the heartbreak that brought on. However, that is not where I focus; it’s not what I think about the most. My focus, my attention was then, is now and always will be on the extraordinary human that was in my life for 23 years. I decided on December 18, 2010 to make the choice to tell the story of Mike in the way that most accurately reflects my heart and his life. And the choice has been empowering.

Today, I encourage you to decide, to make the choice to heal. Remind yourself when you open your eyes, that you are making this powerful choice. Remind yourself when you shed tears that they are healing tears. Remind yourself all day long, that the hard work of grieving is bringing you healing with each and every breath. Decide to heal.