Grief takes so many different forms. It can be the loss of a loved one in the past or losing someone right now. It is not always this loss of a loved one. Grief is also any change that we experience throughout our lives. With our current world situation, we are ALL dealing with some sort of loss. Since we are facing a changing future, stress and fear can be at the forefront of our daily lives and this can create grief and sadness that may be difficult to manage. Especially, if we are alone or feeling the pressures of taking care of others.
During this pandemic so many of us are at a time where we are unable to say goodbye to our loved ones. The medical community is trying to find ways to help such as facetime but for many this isn’t enough. We want to comfort our loved one and are unable to which is somewhat unprecedented. The first question you may have is “Are they ok that I wasn’t able to be with them during their transition?” The answer is always yes. We believe we need to be with them to comfort them during such a difficult time. They are ok, they know you love them, and this is an unusual time.
If you have recently lost someone and want to communicate your feelings write to them, share all the good times and what you will miss. Keep good memories of them in your thoughts to have them in your heart. Share stories about your loved ones with friends and allow them to share about theirs. Look at photos and videos and recall some of your favorite times. If you have traditions or rituals that you have passed down from generations to generations, remember these things and bring them out. Be creative if you are unable to provide the things that you would normally have for these celebrations.
Most importantly ask for help and know that during this time it’s essential to not travel on this journey alone. Asking for support also helps others to feel they are making a difference. We are all in this together.
We can manage grief, but it’s a sneaky thing. It comes when you’re not expecting it and you may not have any idea that it was going to show up. Even positive changes can bring about a little grief that surprises us. Grief has its own identity which means it looks different for everyone. No one grieves the same or for the same reasons. This is why no one can tell you how to grieve or when it should be over. Experts, like me can give suggestions and tools to manage it but this is a personal journey and it is just yours.
I have helped so many people find the tools they need to manage and cope with their losses. The losses experienced could be a divorce, job loss, children moving out, an illness, aging and of course the loss of a loved one. I’m sure I haven’t seen it all and there have been times with clients that I have wondered “how is this individual still living through their life journey”. Their courage has inspired me and at the same time made me realize how blessed I am. There is always someone out there with a much more difficult story than our own.
This isn’t to minimalize anyone’s circumstances, but when we hear someone else’s experiences it can make us grateful for our own story. It may show us that we can heal perhaps because our own story is manageable.
Sometimes grief has a deeper meaning because we are not just grieving the current situation, we are also grieving our past or something from our past. Sometimes, our grief wasn’t healed or managed, so when we are at a point that grief seems to be unmanageable, it can often be because of the previous layers of grief that we didn’t address, and this can even go back to our childhood.
However, we can heal the past to get to our current situation for healing. It may take some time and some inner strength, but it is possible. You are not a pioneer in this situation and there are hundreds of ways to get to the root of the pain and to understand tools to heal and feel that life is manageable.
Grief can make you feel that ache in your bones and you may feel that this will never get better or go away. It can eventually come to a place where it becomes an experience to learn from instead of feeling that the grief is controlling every aspect of your life.
I have found that there are a few steps to understanding grief.
- Guilt is the number one catalyst for intense grief. Guilt holds tight and it seems to control our emotions. It can prevent you from beginning the healing process. Holding on to guilt will make the process take so much longer. I have had clients that have held on to guilt for 10, 20, 30 years or more. It can also make you believe you should not be happy. Guilt is ingrained in most of us and like myself were taught that guilt had value. We are taught that if you have sinned, then healing is out of the question.
- Finding a way to forgive yourself and others will be one of the biggest steps to begin moving the grief. Over the years this has probably been the number one reason that grief is still holding on strong.
- Understand that you cannot always control the outcome can you control the choices someone else makes. In my book “Grieving to Believing” I discuss how we do not have the power to control the outcome of someone else’s choices and journey. We are taught to take care of others to give to others and to ignore our own needs. Thinking of ourselves first is considered “selfish”. Well, if you want to believe that, you are limiting your potential. We all have a responsibility for ourselves.
- Healing from grief can be a lesson in boundaries. Sometimes others just don’t want your help, or they want to do it themselves. Respect your loved one’s boundaries and choices. Think of it in reversed, do you want others to step in and take over your life? Be respectful of boundaries and because you will understand that the guilt you are carrying may not be yours to carry and understanding this will provide you a little wiggle room to begin the healing process.
- I don’t think “everything happens for a reason”, I have taught this for many years. This is a common saying that people say all the time because they don’t know what to say so they fall back on this and it can drive me a little crazy. We can find a purpose from things that have happened, but I have never felt that there is always a specific “reason” for a loved one to depart. As an example, my husband died by suicide along with many others in my life. I have made this a mission to provide knowledge for those experiencing what I have experienced. I have written a book about his passing and his mental health. I’ve have also spoken to many groups about suicide and how to heal from the guilt and understand mental health. I have done thousands of sessions with clients who have lost their loved ones to suicide. This topic has been pushed under the rug for so long and I made it a purpose to help in the understanding and to help support others when dealing with this suicide.
- Find a purpose from your losses which can help with grief, for example, when someone experiences a divorce, I hear often of gratitude for the children that came from the marriage. Try too look for the positive actions that will help to mend your heart that has been hurt. A dear friend of ours, Judith Briles lost her son on a bridge in California where it was a non-working road. But they hadn’t taken it down or protected young kids from socializing on the bridge. He fell to his death at a very young age and his parents had no idea that this was a hangout for young people. Judith fought to have the bridge taken down so no one else would perish from a senseless act. The government didn’t protect these children, so the loss created a purpose to save others. She has a wonderful memoir that I endorsed for her When God Says No that I highly recommend.
- We are here to learn and grow and it is not always easy. Earth is where we are to learn spiritual lessons and sometimes we “awaken” more layers when we experience pain. We grow and look at life differently and it can put us on a new path. Many times, we see things from such a different perspective, and I have found that this can push us into discovering more about ourselves and our journey here in our Earth School. When we can look at all the different perspectives from our situations it can help to manage the challenges we are dealing with.
Simple ways to support you healing through grief.
This may sound simple but there are common steps in the grieving process.
-Feelings can come and go without announcing themselves, and grief can be very unexpected and catch us by complete surprise.
-There are no rules to your grief process. Grieve your way, don’t let someone else tell you what you should do to heal. That was their experience-not yours. Of course, take advice it you want to take it but don’t let others dictate what you “should” be doing.
-There is no timeline, in when or how you grieve. It’s your grief. Grief won’t leave you, but it will change over time.
-Hugs are better than words.
-It’s okay to question life and your belief system.
-Just because you are blessed in life does not mean you can’t grieve.
-If you’re not okay and someone asks if you are okay it’s alright to acknowledge this and to say something like “not today, but I hope tomorrow is better”.
-Ask others to honor your pain and walk with you, by not telling you how to heal. Know that you are not a victim and you can ask others to respect and have compassion to your healing process.
-Grief doesn’t make sense many times. Everyone carries grief differently. It is ok to feel that no one understands what you are going through.
-I truly believe that humor and joy are the best tools to healing. This can help you connect with your loved one and can help you feel them around you. Guilt can keep us from allowing these experiences, but I guarantee that humor is the right medicine. Our loved ones who have crossed over want that for us and they want to show you they are still with you. Everyday look for something that makes you smile and better yet laugh. It can be hard but watch comedy, talk about a funny time, remember something humorous about your loved one.
-Try journaling, plant something, connect with new people or a new group, be with Mother nature, volunteer, do something in your home that feels like an accomplishment, adopt a pet, ride a horse, learn something new.
See my talk about grief from this past week VIDEO
All my love and support during this time and every day.