There is no way out of grief. All you can do is experience it as it arises with more or less intensity. Some people refer to this as riding the waves of grief. You cannot always anticipate when a big wave of grief will be triggered. It’s important not to fight the grief or make yourself wrong for it in any shape or form. Longing, sadness, despair, anger, emptiness, disorientation, heartache and more are all to be expected company; some will stay a long time. Learning how to navigate in this terrain is a must. Here are a few things to keep in mind and close to your heart:
- Give permission to each and every feeling as it arises.
- Remember that no one grieves the same so do not compare your self to others.
- Grief is not linear — Do not expect of yourself to feel better just because a certain amount of time has passed.
- Give yourself time every day to just be in the grief — sob, or rage, look like your having a break down, or write a letter to your loved one.
- Have a journal dedicated to conversations with your loved one who you are grieving. Write in it daily.
- Learn to meditate so that you can witness the grief a bit more than just being it at all times.
- Don’t allow your mind to beat you up with regrets or “what if’s”. Learn ways to re-direct your mind when it turns on you.
- Create a structure for yourself that you can do regularly. Even if it’s just making sure your brush your teeth, eat and go for a walk. Structure will help your insides have a sense of organization during this very disorienting time.
- Let others know that you are grieving and help them to help you. People who love you want to be there for you. They don’t always know the best ways to be with you when you are in so much pain. Let them know what feels best. Sometimes it is just someone holding your hand and saying nothing.
- Allow yourself distraction. Your nervous system can’t handle intense grief every moment.
- Be shameless in asking for professional help and support. Loss often calls for it!
Once loss occurs, it is woven into the fabric of your being. It is not something you “overcome” or “work through. It is now part of you and it will become part of your living. Loss is a hole within that doesn’t go away. But the emptiness can be an experience of fullness as it is embraced. And with it comes an organic re-arranging and re-organizing. As you surrender to grief, life slowly grows back, through and around the hole, just like ivy vines wind their way through an opening in the bark of a tree. The hole is now part of who you are and is included in your sense of wholeness. That is why the word hole makes up the word “whole!”
It can be freeing to know that all in time, you don’t have to get rid of the hole in order to feel whole again.
Deva Joy Gouss, LCSW has been practicing experiential psychotherapy in Atlanta for thirty-three years. Working with groups, couples and individuals, she also integrates energy medicine, polarity touch, yoga, trauma resiliency therapy and the power of ritual. For over two decades, she has also led monthly workshops, including Marrying Yourself for women and Nourishing Your Love for couples. She is the author of Toolbox of Hope: For When Your Body Doesn’t Feel Good and Rearranged, Never the Same: The Nature of Grief. www.healingheartcommunications.com