GRIEF - It’s a Part of Life

Such a small word for one of the biggest, messiest life situations we all face. However, most people don't feel comfortable talking about it. Most have heard of "Stages of Grief" or a list of what it looks like and feels like. Throw out the list. 


I thought I understood it on a cognitive level and even a therapeutic level. As I have sat  with clients and acknowledged their pain - I felt I understood what grief was. However, nothing prepared me like going through it on a very up close and personal level until I lost my mom to cancer almost 6 years ago. I hate grief. 


Grief is one of the hardest most weirdest experiences ever 


So many emotions wrapped up into one little word. Whether you are "expecting it" or not, losing someone close to you at any age is hard. Fresh grief opens a chasm of loss from other past experiences. It doesn’t just go away, it is patient and will wait for you. It knows no boundaries, it does not discriminate. Feelings you didn't know could co-exist...happen. 


For example... relief and extreme sadness. Anger and peace. Loss and hope. Comfort and uncomfortable. 


Give yourself space to grieve. Really. Schedule it. Often, in our busy lives we “park” emotions - especially those that aren’t pleasant - and think I am just too busy right now to deal with this. When the memorial service is over and everyone goes home, then I will think about it or I will have time to cry. Or maybe something like, We knew they were sick and it was coming, so I have had time to prepare. I don’t need to grieve any more.  You can not dictate to grief when it will or will not hit you, but if you don’t allow time to sit with your thoughts, feelings and emotions, grief WILL wait for you.  In addition you need to allow yourself grace and self-compassion for those times you aren't "planning" to feel grief and it hits you when you least expect it. 


Find one or two people who will allow you to be real about grief. Most people ask you how you are doing for the first month. And then they get on with their lives and they no longer ask. It’s not that they don’t care, but when you’re not the person going through the loss it’s easy to forget…and it’s the ”life keeps moving on” mentality. It might feel awkward to bring up the loss of your loved one. But guess what... the entire first year and any anniversary of anything important to you is going to be when you need to talk about it. Give your closest friends (and partner) a heads up. 


Be honest with yourself, your significant other and closest friends... that you are not yourself. Give yourself room to grieve. It is hard. It sucks. And you have to go through it. This is not something you can go around or ignore. You have to jump into the mess to get through it. I sit with clients who have tried to ignore it and they usually end up making choices that lead them down a path they don't like. Whether it is addiction or numbing out.... it doesn't work. You still have to go through it, remember, grief will wait!


Here are some practical ideas that could help you get active with your grief. 


  • Write a letter to the person you lost
  • Release balloons on their birthday
  • Do a cathartic hike where you allow yourself to feel and remember
  • Say how you feel out loud
  • Go to your loved one's favorite spot and spend time there with your memories of them
  • At Christmas time or their birthday, fill a box with letters in there for your loved one
  • Figure out your biggest triggers (or when you are going to be hit with a grief attack)
    and plan some self care around these triggers/times

If you or someone you know is suffering with grief and needs help processing it may be the time to see a therapist to journey with you during this time. If the death was a traumatic one, it would be very helpful to find a therapist who can do Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. Click on the link for  more information about EMDR or call the office to schedule an appointment with one or our therapists that offers this service. 720-370-3010