“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” –Kahlil Gibran
Some of you who follow the Braveheart Blog might have noticed I’ve been MIA for the last month. It’s been a time dedicated to grieving, supporting those around me, and getting myself back in the boat. Life is messy sometimes. It peddles experiences that hurt and confuse us. But in each moment, we have the opportunity to lean on each other. We have the chance to decipher what we value most. We have the gift of time to reprioritize our life.
The loss of a loved one is tragic; especially when they are young. A month ago, I watched in horror as my husband reacted to hearing his former wife tell him that their 36-year-old daughter was dead. It’s a moment I’d like to forget, but it is forever etched in my memory. I cannot begin to imagine how deeply it is engraved into his.
Grieving is painful. It’s a verb that represents the action of mourning, of bearing a burden so monstrous that it is crushing. And while time is said to heal all wounds, some things hurt our hearts for a lifetime.
The biggest challenge is finding the courage to move forward in the face of tragedy. We are not there yet, but we are employing a number of processes to help us move through the transition.
Five techniques to help move through the grieving process
- Give yourself time to grieve. There’s no set time for moving through the emotions attached to grief. In this article, the seven stages of grief are outlined. The underlying takeaway for each stage is you cannot rush the process. For some people, depression and isolation come months after the fact. When my mother died four years ago, I grieved for the first two. Even now on the date of her death, I sink into an emotional low. It takes time to grieve and everyone is different.
- Even if you want to pull away from the world, be willing to allow at least one person to hold you when you cry. Loss of a loved one is so overwhelming. You want to run and hide from the rest of the world that marches on normally. You are vulnerable and in pain, and while your natural tendency may be to pull away and lick your deep wounds, allowing someone to embrace you is therapeutic. This article on hug therapy cites there is no easier and loving medicine for the heart than hug therapy, and scientific research proves it.
- Make a memorial where you can reflect and talk to the departed; this is especially important when the loved one died unexpectedly. No matter what your religious belief, making a space in your home to honor the departed and “converse” with them in spirit is excellent healing therapy. This article on grief suggests that “altars and shrines are external representations of interior mysteries … giving us the opportunity to remember, reflect, honor, and help heal the pain of loss through the act of creating.”
- Only say yes to what makes your heart feel better. Everything else is a no. Grieving takes energy and if you are spreading yourself too thin, you put yourself at risk for prolonged emotional trauma and physical illness. In his book, The Grief Recovery Handbook, John W. James says it’s a myth that staying busy will help you get through grief. Distraction merely prolongs the process. Take the time you need before you jump back into the day-to-day fray.
- Join a bereavement group or talk to a grief counselor or life coach. Trained facilitators and grief counselors understand the healing process and the importance of giving you a safe place to talk about your feelings. John Welshons, in his book Awakening from Grief, states: “So there is no way to apply systems, rules or emotional roadmaps. Our job is to be a presence, rather than a savior. A companion, rather than a leader. A friend, rather than a teacher.”
The loss of a loved one is never easy; the loss of a child is unfathomable. Life will never be as it once was. Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself permission to grieve, in your own way, in your own time.