Grief is one of those tough topics that no one really wants to visit; heck, I am having a hard time even writing about it! But for those of us who are going through it, it’s comforting to find that you are not alone. Grief is personal and unique to each and every person experiencing it. Therefore, it cannot be measured or contained. No one should ever feel as though they “should” feel a particular way at any given time. In fact, you may find that you feel an abundance of emotions ALL of the time; that is OK.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote an entire book on grief, breaking it down into five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Five very real and raw emotions that, in my opinion, encapsulate how it feels to grieve. There is no particular order in which one feels these emotions. In fact, you may find that they are felt synonymously. Regardless, it is important to recognize these emotions, allow yourself to feel them, and attempt to gain some understanding on moving on.
Solace Through Support From Family & Friends
When we lose someone, time can feel as though it’s standing still, as though you are living the same day again, and again. So you must not forget to take care of yourself and move (at your own pace) with the world around you. Loving and nurturing yourself, as well as, surrounding yourself by people and things that bring light into your life, can play a tremendous role on the journey to regaining your grasp on life. There are many ways one can use acts of self love and discovery to recapture a life that he/she had, or even begin a journey to a new one.
I am currently grieving the loss of my mother and can honestly say that I feel every emotion in the book, and then some! But what I choose to focus on (when I can) are the moments where I experience joy and peace. Those are the moments that I wish to explore and develop further. It isn’t easy, but in order to fully appreciate joy, one must appreciate sadness, but there is always peace to be found. One of the first things that brought me solace was being surrounded by family and a few close friends who gave me the time and opportunity to grieve without pressure. Though I didn’t always welcome the company, I always appreciated it because it meant that I wasn’t and didn’t have to be alone, and that there really is strength in numbers.
I was, and still am, free to be however I please in the presence of those I know and love. Being around people you are comfortable with, not only to share a laugh and be lighthearted, but to be sad, angry, and anxious with, is also comforting. It is understandable that when one is grieving or experiencing sorrow they want to be alone: that is OK! However, it can also leave a lot of room for gloom to settle in. The company of people forces us to redirect our attention and this could be beneficial to those who can’t seem to pick themselves up. Finding a balance of alone time and allowing people to help you will lighten your load.
Meditation and Spirituality
Another great coping skill (methods a person uses to deal with stressful situations) that I use to help ground myself is meditation. Meditation can help separate you from yourself and gain a new perspective on life. Re-shifting your thoughts to something less tangible while concentrating on breathing can truly be a release. I liken meditation to surrendering yourself to yourself, becoming vulnerable to yourself helps to open the doors of self care. The best thing about meditation is that you can do it anywhere anytime and however you choose. Meditating on a routine basis for me has been a lifesaver. It’s like a daily debriefing that allows one to reach a deep, natural clarity of mind that is normally obscured by daily busyness.
When people bring up spirituality it is often linked to religion. However the connection isn’t as fluid as one may think. Simply, religion is often tied to a God and worship. While spirituality, in general, is a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for the meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all. Everyone has their own unique spiritual path and navigational tools, but what I find when dealing with grief and spirituality is that there is a sense of desperation and urgency that arises. We often feel the immediate need to find the meaning of it all. To wrap our heads around loss and plant our feet firmly on the ground. It doesn’t happen that way. As with most things, gaining a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you is different for every person and often depends on personal experiences.
Address It, Meditate, Secure Your Spiritual Center
Introducing spirituality to the grieving process gives us something bigger to hold onto allowing us to reassess our beliefs and views on death. For myself, digging deeper into my spiritual core offered answers to questions that I never knew how to ask. I still get depressed and sad, but now I have a better understanding. It can be overwhelming at first, but with patience and mindfulness you can get the ball rolling. I was gifted a book, The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, that has helped me immensely on my path to understanding. It is a collection of the spiritual poetry of the great Persian poet Jelaluddin Rumi that speaks from a perspective that everyone can appreciate. This book is a reminder to take it one day at a time, breathe, and appreciate all the gifts that life has to offer.
Addressing your emotions, meditating and securing spiritual roots are some simple yet profound ways to handle grief. I believe that one never actually stops grieving, we just shift through levels of understanding and emotion. Losing a loved one cannot be contained and described in a single blog post, nor would I want it to. Each of us experiencing loss and grief have our own path to take. Whatever you choose, the most important thing when experiencing grief is to be gentle with yourself.
We’re all in this together! What helps you stay centered when grieving? Leave us a comment below.