Grief is one of the most challenging emotions to feel. There is a permanence to grief unlike any other emotion making it difficult to approach and seemingly impossible to overcome.
Yet the only way to truly heal an experience is to feel it. The engulfing emotions must be met and felt completely for the immensity of it to pass. But how do we do this when it diving into grief threatens to engulf you entirely?
Start small with surrender. It’s a big one and if you are anything like me I cringe every time I hear the word. So start small. You don’t have to accept the loss of your loved one right away but do start by surrendering to the fact that you are in a painful place and deserve to feel devastated by your grief. You have loved and you have lost. Let go and let yourself feel the sadness, not all at once but bit by bit.Surrender a little bit to being comforted too. All too often we push away our sources of comfort so we can push our sadness down. Surrendering to a hug is incredibly healing.
2. Accept that you are now a different person
When you have experienced an immense loss it changes you, forever. You lose a part of yourself that was once carefree and perhaps a bit naive. When you have looked square into the eyes of grief and you understand how exquisitely painful it is there is no un-seeing it. As you experience your grief you will find parts of yourself to fill the unbearable hole left behind by your beloved. A new you will emerge, stronger more grateful for what you have and with skills that might have seemed unreachable in the past.
3. Go slow
This is a sacred process and it takes time. It takes time to repair and heal your broken heart. It takes love, so much love, allowed yourself to be held, nurtured and consoled for as long as it takes. The sadness will frequently creep up unannounced. Just when you think you are doing ok a smell or a sound will plunge you into the deepest depths of your pain within seconds. Know that this wavering between grief and restoration is normal and healthy experience of grief so that you don’t have to process it en masse. So go slow, go gently and go slow.
4. Don’t go it alone
You wouldn’t enter unknown territory without a companion or a guide. Choose people you trust that you know will pull you out if you get stuck in your heart ache too deeply or for too long. Even better have more than one person looking out for you and if necessary get a whole search party on your side. These people might include your partner, a friend, your GP, a counsellor or a pastor. Have people that will listen, empathize and support you. We are quick to be there for others when needed so pay it forward and allow others the gift of supporting you.
5. Nourish your body
It is usually one of the last things you feel like doing, cooking or eating for that matter. Find a local wholefoods store that has pre-prepared meals so that you can nourish your body with healing food. When emotions are at their all time high we tend not to take good care of ourselves and end up sick as well as sad (if this does happen remember number 4!). Nourish your body with good food, a massage, a bath, a walk or a day on the couch.
6. Find a way of connecting with your loved one
Just because your loved one is no longer with you it doesn’t mean that the relationship needs to discontinue. There are a variety of ways to maintain your bond. It is healthy to talk about them, say their name and remember them on special days. I know people who bake cakes on the day of their loved ones birthday or set a place at the table at Christmas time. Have a special place that you go to when you want to feel close to them with them or keep a journal so that you communicate with them. Continue to honour the cherished qualities of your beloved so that they can be forever harboured in your heart.
7. Have faith that you will make it through
You won’t want to. In fact you may not want to make it through for a long time because starting the journey through grief means accepting that you will be leaving your loved one behind and that just seems unimaginable. Know that somehow people do make it through and someday you will too. For every sunset there is a sunrise, life has a way of drawing us forward, sometimes reluctantly and sometimes pragmatically. Eventually a way of living with your grief will reveal itself.
In the meantime remember to be kind to yourself along the way.
If you or anyone you know is having trouble finding their way through loss call for a free 15 minute consultation to start easing the heartache of grief.