As I prepare to write this post, I want to say that grief can come over you at anytime. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, a dear pet, or grief for something you can’t name. It feels heavy on your chest like you can’t breathe and it stays there for a while.
The suffocating feeling lasts for a while, but after a time you notice you can take a little bit more air in and the knot in your chest starts to loosen. Maybe you start to feel guilty about that, so you try to hold on tighter and love more, but just let it ease gradually.
Some people I know throw themselves into a million projects, classes, trips, and have literally zero down time. They are not ready for the grief to process yet. From what I have observed, this is somewhat like ripping the band-aid off and they are waiting as long as they can. If that is their process, so be it. Each person is different; however, if you are reading this, I will try to help as gently as I can.
I am on day one of a new round of grief. Each time I feel loss it is different, yet the same. Here are a few things that I have learned.
5 Ways to Work Through Grief:
- Sit with it for a while. The first day, it is very fresh and raw. You might want the ache to go away immediately. Acceptance is very difficult. In fact, we want to do the opposite. We want to come up with a million reasons why we shouldn’t accept it. A million “what ifs” or “maybes”. All the while there it still is. It has already happened. So slow down your breathing. If you pray, speak out your needs, thoughts and silent prayer to help you get through this first day.
- Support will come through…and many times it is people who have experienced a grief similar to yours. As people begin to reach out to you, and they ask you the same thing, “Is there anything I can do?”, take them up on it if you want to just talk. I reach out to people who I know have experienced a similar loss as mine. For them, the loss that I have experienced has already brought up those thoughts, especially if they are reaching out. There is something in that comfort that envelops you and hugs you close and says “I know. I have been there before and here I am.” It is comforting and warm.
- Work through it on your own time. It is important to know that it truly is a process, but it is not the same length for everyone. You can’t just wish it would go away…but you can write it away. Little by little. If writing isn’t your thing, you can join a group or speak to a counselor. There are many online groups as well. But make sure it is similar to your loss. There is strength in numbers. A quiet strength.
- Self-care need to be practiced. When I say this, I mean it. Eat food. Make yourself take a small snack even if you are not hungry. Hot tea. Crackers. Soup. Comfort food. Take a bath. Get yourself cleaned up and read a book. Watch a show that gets your mind somewhere else for a bit. Make sure you are practicing self-care.
- I don’t even want to type this…because it still is raw, but it will eventually feel lighter. Again, there is no normal here, okay? Don’t compare your process to others. It is said we go through denial, numbness and shock at first. Then bargaining, depression, anger, and finally acceptance. It is possible your process won’t even look like that, or you might skip parts. So instead of my saying we go through 5 stages, which might not be true for you, I will say what I know to be true. Eventually, you will feel lighter.
After some time has passed, the name of a loved one will pass through your lips and you will feel a connection as you say it, and love. Not grief so much. I know this is true because it took me many years before I could really talk about my grandmother with laughter again. It didn’t matter that I knew she wouldn’t want me to be sad or any of those things that I would want for my own family…I selfishly held on to the sadness, and anger, for far too long.
So if you can start up your yoga, meditation, prayer, writing or anything you love to do on a regular basis, do it. Feel the present moment around you and allow gratitude to come into your heart that you loved so deeply.