Grieving is Natural
Grief is a natural, healthy response to a significant loss. We may experience grief when we lose a loved one to death or go through a big change in life such as a divorce; family change; loss of a friendship; major job change; school change; breakup; health challenge; miscarriage; death of a pet; or trauma. Any significant change can trigger a grieving process within us.
Grieving may mean that you experience challenging and unexpected emotions including intense shock, anger, disbelief, confusion, guilt, and profound sadness. But grief is not something you have to fix or avoid. It’s a natural process that has the power to transform you, when you allow yourself to experience the waves of emotions in a compassionate, non-judgmental and healthy manner.
Grieving has no specific timeline. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Your personal experience will be impacted by your coping style, life experiences and the significance of your loss.
Acknowledge your pain. Its natural and not something you have to push through. Avoidance or minimizing your emotions will only prolong your suffering Accept that you may feel unexpected emotions at surprising times. Take all the time and space you need to be present to these feelings.
Give yourself what you truly need as you move through this challenging experience of loss. Get support from those who can hold-space without judgment and seek out professional support to help you navigate the process consciously, as appropriate. Take impeccable care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Learn the difference between grief and depression. Grief is not depression, but depression is a stage of grief. Where grief and depression differ is that grief tends to decrease over time and occurs in waves that are triggered by thoughts or reminders of its cause. The grieving person may feel relatively better in specific situations, but still feel the sadness of the loss. Depression is usually persistent and pervasive. If you have any concerns about feelings of depression or anything you are experiencing during grief, this is nothing to judge or fear. Get the qualified professional support you deserve.
The most common stages of grief include:
- Denial and avoidance: We are in shock. Even if we expected it, we may still be stunned by the reality of our change. We may resort to all sorts of defense mechanisms, such as suppression or repression. We carefully avoid every reminder of our loss. We try to numb our pain. If we prolong this state of denial, we will exacerbate our pain and this can lead to PTSD.
- Endurance and rumination: We lose ourselves in the pain and may feel like the walking dead. We are in a deep state of suffering and may question everything. Guilt, remorse, doubt will enter into our thoughts and feelings. We swim in a despair that feels merciless.
- Anger: We are ticked about what has been taken from us. We do not understand the injustice of our plight. We may lash out, scream at the heavens, or seek something or someone to blame. We may even feel rage. When trapped in this stage, we may act out our anger rashly.
- Meaningless, hopelessness, depression: We may lose faith in all that we believed in. We may lose touch with our hopes and dreams. We may feel crippled without relief. We may slip from depressive grief into complicated grief at this stage. But we must be careful not to pathologize grief: even grief that takes several years to healthfully resolve. If we are suffering in an unrelenting depressive state, we do not need to suffer in silence. Get professional support to help you discern if you are experiencing the natural progression of your grieving process or a depression that may benefit from clinical intervention.
- Acceptance, transformation and growth: As we feel our way through the waves of intense emotion consciously, we move through our deep loss into a meaningful self-awareness and personal growth. Our beliefs and understanding of life shift. We engage in helpful practices and open to living our lives in a new, albeit unexpected way, integrating meaning into our experience.
Recently, a Spirit came through to a loved one during a session with me.He was very concerned about her grief. Not that she was feeling it, but that she was judging and resisting it. She was angry and deeply frustrated with God for what her loved one endured and for taking him away. The Spirit said to her: “I’m so honored that you love me this deeply. I also love you this deeply. Don’t be afraid of your anger or grief. I’ve had to feel it too. Even here, in after-life. I had to go through mourning being with you all. Feel your anger and trust that as you do, you will free yourself of a burden that you’re carrying within your heart. Judge no feeling you’re experiencing my love. Let the anger out. Tell God. Tell us how you feel. We can hear you. We care. We love you. We cannot change what is, but we can help you feel your way through this pain, into a freedom that awaits. But don’t rush. Don’t force it. Let your grief breathe. Its an unexpected teacher, but I promise it has gifts for you, as you let go and allow it to bring you where your soul is destined to go.”
Give yourself permission, space and healthy support through your grief. Your process isn’t likely to be a neat, linear journey through the stages of loss. You may not even go through these stages. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel and don’t do that to yourself either. Feel it all. Yell, cry, laugh, mourn. Your grieving process gets to be unique. But it can be helpful to know, that it is natural to go through periods where the pain will be immense. It may become physical, it may be mostly emotional but either way, grief is a journey through which all humans can be transformed. As you consciously move through the ups and downs of grief, you may notice that the difficult moments become less gripping. Still, there will be waves of grief through the years, even when you adjust back into a normal flow of daily life, so plan for and self-care through potential grief triggers.
You have loved and cared about someone or something that is now gone. Your life may be very different than before. Breathe. Feel. Self-care. Embrace your emotional process with compassion. Get support. Connect with people who care about you and can hold space for your feelings without judgment. Be patient and gentle with yourself. Move your body. Engage in meaningful activities. Spend time in nature. Rest. Pamper yourself. Love. Be here. Heal. And trust that grief is natural and has the power to transform you.
Whatever you face, whatever pain you feel, may you also feel the presence of the Divine enfolding you, uplifting you and guiding you through your journey.