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When we encounter grief as a result of a life situation, how many of us have been given a “road map” so to speak to be able to navigate our way through it effectively?
I ask this question because of having learned about grief over 23 years ago. I was so ill equipped to handle the death of a family’s 17 year old granddaughter who I was very good friends with. What added insult to injury was the fact she had taken her own life. That in itself complicated this new sense of grief that now had become my biggest nemesis.
When initially confronted by a grief experience, we learn quickly that whatever we hold true about being in control of our lives can be instantly shattered. All of these raw emotions begin to overtake us and unless we have been sufficiently been role modeled as to how we express this new pain, unfortunately we have a strong tendency to “act things out.”
When grief first enters our life, pushing it aside, down, away etc. are all options chosen by many, however to let it in and learn from it can become such a gift in a round about way.
Feeling grief emotions can only bring truth, openness and reality to what you are going through. We learn how to bend, realizing we will never break. We discover tears are an opportunity to release built up toxins and we feel better afterwards. We give of our self to others to help support them also in their time of need. Going through this we find folks to share our feelings with to help carry our load. Sharing our concerns for others only helps us to nurture our own self at such a time with what we are experiencing.
Remember–emotions choose us at these sensitive times, we do not choose them. Also–we all have heard about the varied stages of grief which are all possibilities we may encounter. Reality says we are all as different as our fingerprints as we will be in handling our grief. Just know that grief is not constant because if it were it would kill us. There is not a schedule that you and grief are on. When it appears, do your best not to fight it. Let this toxic, poison out and do not let it fester down deep inside.
We are not on any time table to go through grief or there is a norm to measure up against. The time you are going through will help to heal you. Take extra special care of yourself at this time and allow others to help shoulder your load.
Because we are all mostly creatures of habit, certain things happen in life which send us into reactionary mode. Whether that may be reflective of a person, an event or a group of people, making a choice to be angry can be very easy for us to select. Now, in saying that, I know there are some who may say, “What do you mean Bob I chose to be angry, what he/she said made me angry”? Well, no one makes us do anything that we do not allow. Somehow we forget about that and we put others in charge of our feelings. I am aware of the resistance to this issue, however with a new and different focus, a new mindshift can happen.
There is a lot to be said about emotions choosing us, as we do not choose them. This is especially true when it comes to either intense, overwhelming, sudden grief regarding a traumatic event OR to feel a wave of joy and warmth witnessing a very pleasurable situation.
When going through grief, emotions are very real and common, as it relates to one’s own experience.There can be many factors of a situation which usually determines what grief pattern you may feel: the age and manner of death; the relationship you had with the deceased; your spirituality and God; past experiences with grief; your personality makeup; your focusing ability; avenues of support available and a host of others. These just give you an overview of how no one can accurately judge or instruct someone on how to grieve.
The anger people have, when grief suddenly appears, can have an adverse effect on one’s healing. Whether the anger is directed at the deceased, the event, others, self, etc., a grievers anger can be all consuming. Anger is a feeling and okay to feel. Even though there are justifiable times to be angry, deep seated hatred and resentments can physiologically attack one’s immune system. Anger becomes a learned reaction and as a newly bereaved person, experiencing unhealthy grief can generate disastrous results, the longer you continue down this path. Finding a way to settle these scores can create new beginnings of acceptance and forgiveness. Both of these become gifts you give to yourself first and then to others. It may be easier said than done, understood, however all situations have endings and beginnings. Once you can let go of your anger, you make room for new growth and change to take place-i.e. peace, joy, contentment, love etc.
Having to go through grief is tough enough on everyone, without piling anger and other hurtful reactions on top of it.
Deaths-all types, physical and symbolic have something to teach us. We just need to sit at the feet of our life experiences and be taught by it.
When grief enters our life, especially when we have never experienced it before, it has a tendency to control our life. By educating ourselves about this topic will help to create new ways of behaving in life and with others.
Handling grief no matter how much we intellectually understand it, can and will impact us emotionally. The pain we feel and the emotions we display can overtake us in some way. Who would think that in grief, one would forget to drink water and then become dehydrated, landing them in the hospital. Forgetting to stay properly nourished, following a healthy diet, has been a problem and so has been remembering to take medications in a responsible fashion.
When grief falls on our doorstep there is another very significant reaction people have and that is denial. This is the most troublesome part of grief as it signify’s how easy it is to become stuck or frozen in time. As long as you do not acknowledge your grief, you can pretend it didn’t happen. Unfortunately our bodies do not go along with this line of thinking, because internally, where you may not let your thoughts go to, physiologically we can, do and will come down with illnesses. Even when we are not consciously thinking of these things, we unconsciously are very busy processing this event feverishly. As soon as you can begin to admit this has happened, acknowledging the death does not mean you have to accept it. Let this be a process of growth for yourself, as you go through stages, getting to acceptance. That may be in question also, however your grief belongs to YOU.
Take your time to learn all about what grieving is about, so to effectively give you the best chance of handling all aspects of this on the front end. This way you will not have to wait for possibly years down the road, to have it come roaring in and take you by surprise.
Nothing about handling grief says you MUST do this, however, there are as many moving parts to this which requires the line of thinking that it is necessary to look at and consider.
On any level of grief you may be experiencing, please know my heart rides with you. I would sure feel honored to work with you on finding your way through this emotional maze. Please feel free to be in touch.