The thing is, grief is wise and purposeful. Our grieving is our emotional intelligence at work. It’s best if we can let that process take its course.
The early days — which can last for months — after loss are uniquely disorienting and surreal. When your world is torn apart, nothing makes sense. Life is a fog. The pain sometimes feels unbearable.
On top of it, you may have surprising physical symptoms like headaches, muscle stiffness, digestive issues and a decline in your immunity. Or cognitive symptoms — your brain is using so much energy just to cope with what’s happened, that there’s not much left to manage the matters of life. You’ll put the box of crackers in the refrigerator and the juice in the laundry room. You’ll lose things, forget things. This is all normal… and it will pass. It might help to see this list of Unexpected Symptoms of Grief.
I’m not going to try to tell you that if you do x, y or z, things won’t so bad. Grieving is hard, confusing and exhausting.
That said, there are things that make grieving even harder and more painful:
Being around people who make you feel worse, or even shameful about your grief
Completely isolating yourself and not having any reliable life-line or relationship contact
Rumination — this is a hard one, because your brain has been hijacked and it doesn’t feel like you have much power over your mental states
Using alcohol or other substances to cope — this always backfires
So what doesn’t make the natural process of grieving harder?
Being around people you can be yourself with, who will allow you to be in your grief as it’s showing up in that moment – that might be a therapist, support group or friend
Drinking water – it might sound overly simple, but taking care of yourself in basic ways helps keep your body balanced so you can be available to your grieving
Letting people bring food, run errands or sit with you – when they ask, say yes
Go outside – even if it’s just to sit on a patio. Nature is at home in the life-death-life cycle and you can say whatever you like to the trees.
Take breaks – it’s ok to say, “I’m going to take one hour off from my grief” or watch a movie or see a friend who makes you laugh
In the current model of grief, we are encouraged, after a suitable amount of time, to let go, find closure and get back to normal. That suitable time-frame is anywhere from a few days to a month, and not much more.
But grief takes the time it takes. And we don’t get to decide how long that is. If we try to control or resist, it often extends the process and is more painful.
It’s also great, in the current model, if we can do this privately, without disturbing the office dynamics or upsetting anyone in the family.
But this is not support the soul.
Grief has never been private.
For thousands of years, we grieved in tribes and clans and tents with rituals and ceremonies. Only in the last century and a half or so has grief gotten all neat and tidy.
Maybe your grief wants some space, some air. Maybe it wants to be spoken or witness by another. Know that what your heart craves is valid.
If you would like some company here, you can find it in the 8 Days of xxxx, Resources, a Meditation, working together or getting in touch.
I’m so sorry for the pain you are in. I’m glad you found this place.