Grief is one of the worst emotions we can ever experience as human beings. It contains within in it elements of all things painful- heartbreak, fear, anger, and despair. The loss of a loved one is a hole within us that never feels repaired….but in time, the pangs of that emptiness do lessen. Often times we seek all sorts of escapes and vices to fill that hole, and yet seeking to escape that pain is only a bandaid. A temporary fix. We must eventually confront it to move through it, and heal, as best we can from it. Below are 5 suggestions for healthy ways to deal with grief and loss.
1- Sit with it & own it
Feel what you need to feel. Own your pain. It’s yours to carry. And all grief is unique. Don’t distract yourself with busy work, substances, or taking care of every other person before yourself to avoid feeling your pain. And remember, there is nothing wrong with being vulnerable. In truth, vulnerability is your strength. Weakness is not a weakness. If you need to ask for help, or are emotionally afraid to be alone, have someone be “on alert” or nearby, that know you may need their presence at a moments notice. The sooner you let yourself go through that dark cloud, the sooner you can start to broach the light at the end of it. Don’t underestimate the power of your own tears.
2- Talk it out
Sometimes we just need to be heard. Often we hold back our feelings and our words because we either feel that we need to be strong for others, be strong to “make it through” or are afraid of being seen as a nuisance. FUCK THAT. People that genuinely care about you will hold space for you, and will listen. Often times when we speak without censorship, we give ourself not only a release, but healing words, and healing wisdom we knew all along. If you need to call a counselor, a therapist, or a hotline, then do so without any self judgment. Sometimes the things you don’t say sting much more than what you feel as you speak the words and feelings that you do say.
3- Admit that you are angry
When we loose someone we care about- we tend to canonize them in our memory. We romanticize the good times, and the possibilities of potential we won’t get to have, and forget the sour and flawed parts of that person. Anger is a natural part of grief. Whether is “deserved” or not- we will feel it. We are angry at someone for leaving us, or angry at ourselves. Often people feel angry at God. We are aloud to be mad. We aren’t bringing doom to ourselves or someone’s soul by being honest about our anger. The sooner you own your angry- the sooner you drain the infection from the wound of your heart. Sometimes writing out your anger is the easiest way to access your anger. In a notebook start with the statement: I am angry because- and then follow that up with a stream of consciousness flow of thoughts until your feel done. Next, burn that paper. There is something incredibly cathartic about burning your feelings, the power of fire in itself is very transformative to the psyche.
4- Stop the guilt trip
Guilt is another part of the process. We start beating ourself up for what we didn’t know. We feel guilty for not calling our loved one more, or guilty for not saying how you felt more. We feel guilty for being alive when they are not! This is natural, but at some point we must accept that guilt is a godless emotion. It serves no valuable purpose, and only begets more guilt. We can’t change the past, but we can dictate our future. So those things you felt about about doing or not doing- remember those and commit to being better. Tell your loved ones that you love them more. Do those little things to let them know you care. Show up. Be present. But most importantly, live the life your loved ones know you deserve and would want you to have- sometimes thats the best way we can honor their memory.
Music is magic. When we are in grief, music can be the balm that heals, and at the same time a certain song can rip our hearts open. If you have trouble accessing your heart, or expressing your emotions, music can be a wonderful tool for triggering a release, and it can be just as good at soothing our soul and uplifting us when we feel down. So roll up the windows, crank the radio, cry, laugh, rock out, sing. I once heard Sonia Choquette say that the throat (therefore the voice) is the chimney to the heart, so spend some time each day with music.
- Remember, at the end of the day there is no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve. It may come in waves, or stages or all at once. In time, your pain will lessen. Each day feels a little better. If however you get to the point where your grief is interfering with your ability to be functional, you may want to revisit a grief counselor if you haven’t already consulted with one.