Coming To Terms With Our Grief
When someone we love dies, we become overwhelmed with grief. Those feelings
can last anywhere from weeks to the rest of our lives. Grief can be overwhelming
and isolating but it doesn’t have to last forever. Even if we experience that grief for
the rest of our lives, it does not have to be a pain that stops us from growing.
Nobody ever truly knows how someone else is experiencing grief or how they’re
affected by grief. It is a profound feeling and words cannot truly describe that feeling.
The person who lost a parent doesn’t know what you are feeling if you lost your spouse.
It is never the same, because every relationship and every person is different. Every
persons’ grief is different. So often people say “I know how you feel.” I’ve said it myself,
but in actuality I don’t know how that person is feeling. In that moment I am not experiencing the same thing, even if I have grieved myself. Even if two friends of the deceased are at the same funeral, their grief might be similar, but it is not the same.
Our thoughts about the loss of the person we care about is what causes our grief. Nobody has the same thoughts and not everyone feels the same about a similar thought. Our thoughts and feelings are what make grief so isolating. So what can we do to recover from these feelings?
Firstly, we need to understand that our grief is caused by our thoughts. Although grief
may feel encompassing, it doesn’t exist outside of us. Everything beyond our thoughts
and feelings, outside of ourselves, is not grief. Sometimes that is difficult to comprehend. There is a huge world of non grief happening right now. This does not invalidate the way you are feeling. Your grief is very valid. It affects your physical, mental and spiritual well being.
I’ve had so many people apologise for crying at the funeral, or try to hold back because they think they have to be strong. It is important for those going through grief to admit to themselves that it exists and it is real, even if it is just inside of us.
So often we try to put on a brave face thinking stoicism will help us function, but stifling our feelings when those thoughts are happening doesn’t work. I tell families that they are supposed to cry, that’s why we have funerals. Without the emotional release from the ceremony the funeral is pointless.
As humans we want to grieve when someone we love dies. We wouldn’t want to be
happy that our friend, or family member has died. The feeling of grief is supposed to
happen, unless you are a psychopath. We are not supposed to be happy all the time.
Feeling a range of emotions is part of being alive.
When we have to go back to work and try to function in society we say to ourselves “I
shouldn’t feel this way anymore.” Grief is a feeling that is natural and psychologically necessary when we have thoughts of loss. It is from the acknowledgement of our grief,
(our feelings), that we gain the emotional fuel that allows us to begin to have new thoughts. This is not a process which is supposed to happen overnight. We shouldn’t rush it. If we try to push it away, it lasts so much longer.
When you get caught in thoughts of loss and you’re at work or in public, it is better to take a time out, cry, go to the bathroom, or sit in your car if you have to; breathe and say, “I am a human, who is feeling grief and this is important.” rather than saying “I’m okay.” and try to push it down.
The feeling of grief comes from the thought that we have lost an important person in our life, they are no longer physically there. This thought is normal. It is part of accepting that they have passed away.
Once we are able to acknowledge that these feelings are supposed to happen and that they are caused by our thoughts, can we begin to change the way we feel. When we do this, it allows us to experience that our thoughts truly drive our feelings.
Those thoughts will no longer be, “I love that person so much and now they’re gone.” They will transform into, “I love that person so much and I am so glad that they were such a big part of my life.” This thought has a completely different tone and drives different emotions.
Once we have embraced the thought that we subconsciously need and want to grieve we can allow ourselves to do so completely. That is when we can begin to change the way we think and feel. As humans we are meant to feel an entire range of emotions, not just the ones which make us feel good. It is impossible to change our thoughts around the circumstance of death until we embrace our grief. Until we do it will always lurk in the back of our mind.
If you are someone who is currently struggling with grief, I want to encourage you to sit with it. Acknowledge that it is happening and open yourself to that experience. You don’t have to be brave for anyone. Write down any thoughts you are having when you start to feel emotional. Decide what thoughts you would maybe like to have instead. When you think of them do you want to still feel sad? If so that’s okay. Do you want to feel love or gratitude? If so, that is okay too. Write it down, and be patient with yourself. You are a human being and all of it is important.