How do you deal with grief?
Grief is the most difficult emotion to deal with. It’s intense. It’s overwhelming. And there are all different kinds of grief, it doesn’t just have to be about the loss of life. It could be a loss of a dream, a marriage, an idea of what you wanted for your birth.
While my heart aches with a loss I just want to share my thoughts on grief. Grief is such a tricky emotion. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. The most important thing is to FEEL it! But that’s a hard thing to do. Grief, when felt fully, is a very strong and intense emotion. It’s easier not to feel it and stuff it down and distract ourselves. We have all kinds of ways to distract ourselves and avoid feelings; shopping, eating, drinking, zoning out with TV, being online, social media, the ways keep growing. It’s just easier not to feel.
Feeling the depths of your grief can be scary. In fact, years ago I was experiencing some emotions coming up that when I really allowed myself to feel them fully, I truly felt like I was going to die. I had a limiting belief that strong emotions would cause me to die. I’ve found this in other clients as well. I don’t believe anyone I know has ever died from feeling an emotion. I feel more happens when we don’t allow ourselves to feel things fully. Having this limiting belief will surely make you want to avoid feeling all of your grief. And the best way through grief is to feel your grief fully! This is quite a conundrum. Shifting this limiting belief makes your emotions not feel so scary so you can fully embrace the emotion.
Grief comes in waves. Initially, they are tsunami-sized and can feel like you won’t survive. Yet when you hang on and allow the waves to wash through you, you will realize you do survive. Unfortunately, the waves don’t stop but over time they become smaller and less frequent and you never know when a wave is going to hit you. The important part is to ride the wave out and feel it fully.
When we push the wave of feelings aside, deny them and try and stuff them away they just get buried in the tissues of our body. I like to think of emotions like the waves coming up on the beach. The more you feel the emotion the more the wave is able to go back out into the ocean. The more you ignore, distract yourself, or deny them altogether, the more the emotions sink down into the sand and get stuck in your tissues.
Even though I know all of this and did my best to feel my grief fully I was surprised when I went in for an acupuncture appointment and found out that my lack of regularity, which started when my dog passed, was tied to my grief. The lungs and large intestines are intimately connected energetically per Chinese medicine. Our lungs hold our grief and were affecting my bowels. One session of rebalancing my energy got me moving again! Getting support for our bodies is so important! Do what you have to, to support yourself, and feel your emotions FULLY!
I found this on Facebook, it came from a blog post on ThatEricAlper.com. This is a reply to someone asking on reddit about what to do as they just lost a friend. Here is the reply:
“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. If might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything… and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.
Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”
I couldn’t have said it better.