How to Grieve

Friday, May 20, 2016 @ 1:34 PM


This is honestly a dreaded subject for me and one that I try and avoid. However, if I am wanting to challenge the idea of having taboo subjects, I myself have to face those that are the hardest for me. We can grieve many things throughout life, but unfortunately, the majority of my grief has been around saying goodbye to many that I love. Grief can take many forms though, it may be grieving the loss of a job that you loved, grieving the loss of a relationship, grieving the loss of freedom, grieving the loss of something physically (an ability or body part - maybe through cancer or war), your innocence, and many more. Grief is not just losing someone who has passed, but usually that is the most common grief that people think of.

Grief is like standing in a sticky pile of muck that feels impossible to escape. It is not something that I have honestly dealt with well. If you have read My Story, you know that I did anything to avoid it so that I did not have to face the pain and deal with it. When my brother died, I felt like a meteor fell from the sky and knocked me out. Grief hit me like a ton of bricks and I had NO FREAKING CLUE how to handle it. I had never felt more pain in my life than I did on December 13, 2007. The days that followed did not allow for much breathing room from the pain either. Have you been there? Whether we are expecting someone to leave our life or not, it is never easy. The phrase "You don't know what you have until its gone" has never felt more true since that heart wrenching day.

Grief is a forever process.
When I say this, I am not saying that you remain in a state of extreme sadness forever. Unfortunately and fortunately life does not allow for this, it pulls at you like an riptide and forces you to move forward. It doesn't account for the fact that our world has just crashed and burned and it feels impossible to move forward. Life is insensitive in that way and it feels very rushed and overwhelming at the beginning. How can we possibly think about moving forward? Our world has frozen. However, this is somewhat like a blessing in disguise, because it allows for us to not remain in the unbearable pain and sadness forever. One can only manage this pain for so long. Now this is not to say that we are not still grieving and feeling pain, but it forces us to think about and do other things. This time period may look different for everyone. However, eventually you do not have a choice about moving forward. Life forces us back to work, to take care of children, to engage in relationships, pay bills, and get back into a routine. This process can feel lonely and isolating though, because everyone else tends to get back to life at a much quicker pace than we want. It is our human nature to want to sit in the muck and not move forward. Even though it is painful, it does not feel possible to move forward. The thought of moving forward can be more frightening than staying in the grief. We are still feeling the sadness, anger, and denial while everyone else has moved on and are not experiencing the same feelings that we are. Moving forward is a process and one that you have to take at your own pace.

I am 8 years out from my brother dying and there are still days where the grief sits heavy in my throat waiting to spill out. The pain that I experienced on that very day in December, 8 years ago comes flooding back. How could I move on in life without him? He would have loved to be here with me sharing everything that I have accomplished. He would have loved to build a relationship with my husband. He would have been a fabulous Uncle to my children. But thankfully and devastatingly, I do not experience those days on a regular basis. I say thankfully, because I just do not think that I have the strength on a daily basis to feel that pain. I think there is a reason that our mind does not keep it at the forefront, because it knows that we cannot humanly handle that much grief ALL THE TIME. This is not to say that I do not miss him on a daily basis and wish that he was here with me, but I also have to know that he would want me to continue on living my life and doing whatever I needed to do to be happy, and it is okay for me to have good days. Those good days grow exponentially as time goes on, but in the beginning, they felt very few and far between.

Unfortunately, just as I have discussed in previous blogs. Many people tend to run as far away from uncomfortable situations as they can. They try to act as if they do not exist and often fall dumbfounded with situations like grief. Grief is something that everyone wants to fix. People want to make you happier and act as if the situation never happened. This is no fault of anyone, as it is hard to see our loved ones in a state of grief. However, it is healthy and okay to be in a state of grief and it is not one that needs to be suppressed and shoved away. Often times, that just makes things worse. However, when the sadness doesn't subside and your loved ones have tried everything they can to make you happy, they often times no longer know what to do to help you, so they let you be. While they may feel that this is the best option, it feels isolating to the one experiencing the grief. Often times a grieving person just needs someone to sit next to them while they cry, hold them through their anger, and be okay with the fact that they are not happy. Those grieving just need to know that their friends and family are going to be there to support them and not walk away when times get tough and uncomfortable. They need someone to help lift them out of the sinking sand when they feel like there is no getting out. But the one thing they do not need are answers or fixing. There is no way to change/bring back what is being grieved. Which in the thick of the grief, feels like the only thing that can make things better. Since that isn't possible, there IS NO FIX. I unfortunately have had to watch those closest to me experience heart wrenching grief and I will tell you what. I even struggle (as a fellow griever) to fix their situation. The pain of watching someone that you love grieve is unbearable. You just want to take their pain away. We do not want to watch those closest to us be in that state, but the best thing that we can do for them is just be there and just love them.

Grief is individual.
"I know how you are feeling". Those are probably my favorite least favorite grief words. The thing that most people do not understand is the fact that grief is so absolutely individual. While you may have experienced a similar situation, you are two different people. Therefore you are going to experience the grief in a completely different way. Yes, there may be similar feelings that are felt, but that does not mean that you understand exactly what they are feeling and going through. It is somewhat comforting to know that there are others who have experienced similar situations, as our situation often feels unique and lonely. However, own your experience as only yours. Be okay with the fact that you have your own story and your own experiences that created your story. And give others the opportunity to have their own story - don't take that from them. Experiences that we face can better help us support those around us, but that still does not mean that we understand their grief and pain. Saying that we know how they are feeling can almost our support futile..

There is no right or wrong to grieve.
Often times people feel the need to tell us how to grieve and whether we are doing it right or wrong. Here is the honest truth - there is no wrong way to grieving. If you let the process happen naturally, it will take its course and happen in the way that its meant to. The fact is that our grief is our own and everyone's process is unique and individual, We all grieve differently and it is important that you do what feels right in the moment rather than molding your grief to be similar to others.

So many times we place shoulds on ourselves throughout the grieving process. STOP! Allow yourself whatever you need. Grieving is hard enough without having expectations upon us - whether it be by others or ourselves. Let yourself be sad, let yourself feel the anger, let yourself scream, let yourself cry. Grief is UGLY, but it is absolutely necessary if you have just experienced a loss. If someone tells you that you need to do or feel a certain way, you can politely tell them that is not comfortable for you and not something that you are interested in doing. Often times the advice comes when no one else knows what to do or say for you and they just want to make the grief go away. This is not malicious, but just purely human nature and usually filled will good intent. Also, do not be afraid to tell your inner dialogue to be quiet, as there should be no expectations of yourself when you are in the thick of the grief.

Whatever it may be that you have experienced. I am sorry. I would not wish grief on my enemy, Cling to others in your deepest grief, do not face the process alone. If you feel isolated and alone in your grief, seek out support. This may take all of the strength that you have, but a support system is absolutely necessary to survive the muck of grief.

Be gentle on yourself!

You are Strong. You are Able. You are Resilient.