Grief—Let me first share with you that I know that this is a really heavy and difficult topic.

Grief is such a profound, personal, and intricate emotion that transcends words, yet touches the very core of our very human-being-ness and impacts every single one of us at one time or another. When faced with the loss of a loved one, a job, an item that was important to us, navigating the turbulent waters of grief becomes an inevitable part of our having a human experience. I would like to honor the diverse ways in which we all subjectively navigate this poignant process.

This topic spoke to me for many reasons.  I was recently working on an article about a journaling exercise that is scientifically proven to help with both mental and physical health; I have created a course on this:  Therapeutic Journaling | Better Life Inc.  As I worked through this course, the issue of grief came up and whether or not healthy ways to grieve were demonstrated for us as children.

I know I’m not alone in this being a heavy, and most times painful, issue and experience, and I hope that I can offer you support and compassion because if you chose to read this Article, you can likely already relate.  Know that you are not alone and I understand.  I hope this information serves you and brings you peace.

Acknowledging the Spectrum of Emotions

Grief isn’t a linear path; it’s a spectrum of emotions—raw, unpredictable, and uniquely personal. It encompasses sorrow, anger, denial, and moments of quiet acceptance. Each emotion is valid, an expression of the intricate web of love and loss.

There are stages of grief that we go through and it’s not as if we check off one and move on but rather, we loop back and forth through the stages of denial, anger, acceptance, bargaining, and depression.  If you have felt any or all of these emotions, know that they are normal and necessary as we adjust to our losses.  It’s also normal to feel a bit of pity for ourselves for not being able to see or talk to our loved ones in person any longer, the emptiness their parting leaves in our own lives.

Importantly, there is not a right way to grieve and/or a right thing to say to others in their grief.  We tend to say what we would want to hear or what we believe the other person would need to hear but that’s not always the case.  Many times, discussing grief is avoided due to lack of knowing what to say to someone, or if we are grieving, not always knowing how to talk about it and process it.  Sometimes it is just too painful and uncomfortable.

As I work on educating about healthy communication, I encourage you to tell your listeners what you need – do you need them to (1) listen, (2) to help you process or problem solve, or (3) to take care of something for you – and this allows you to get your needs met and avoid unsolicited advice and makes clear to the listener what is being asked of them to provide.  When we are grieving, however, it’s not always possible to tell others what we need as the cards and words come at us during our time of mourning.  We typically get what others can emotionally give and I believe we can benefit by considering the gestures and intentions regardless of whether it is what we need or not at the moment; most people are genuinely well-meaning.  That’s not to say we shouldn’t create boundaries and advise others if they have said or done something hurtful.

Embracing Vulnerability

In the midst of grief, vulnerability emerges—a space where we confront our deepest emotions, fears, and uncertainties. It’s okay and even necessary to allow ourselves our feelings; to feel shattered, to let tears flow freely, to seek solace in moments of solitude or within the comforting embrace of others.

We need to give ourselves permission to feel our feelings.  And ideally, we have a tribe that we use for support such as friends, family, religious leaders, spiritual leaders, therapists, etc., and our acceptance of those people to hold space for us and with us is comforting and helps us feel connected and less alone in our suffering.

Granting Permission for Self-Compassion

Self-compassion becomes a vital balm in the grieving process. Granting oneself permission to grieve without judgment or expectation is an act of kindness—a step toward healing. It’s about acknowledging that grieving isn’t a sign of weakness but a testament to the depth of love.

I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but you are allowed to grieve in your own way and in your own time.  Your employer might only give you a few days to get through it, but as you continue on with your own life, you are allowed to do so gracefully or not so gracefully.  There is no timeline or deadline, however, there is a diagnosis for Prolonged Grief Disorder, which is diagnosed when grief persists, and the severity causes issues with daily living and living daily life.  If you feel you are experiencing PGD, please seek professional support and help.

Nurturing Support and Connections

Seeking support, whether from friends, family, or grief counselors, provides a lifeline during this tumultuous journey. Engaging with others who understand or simply offer a listening ear cultivates a sense of belonging and eases the weight of sorrow.

Part of our authenticity is the need for connection to others, and actually, a feeling of separateness from others is at the root of most of our mental health challenges.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs emphasizes the importance of our social connections with our well-being.

Honoring Memories and Rituals

Honoring the memories of our loved ones through rituals or cherished traditions fosters a sense of connection. It’s about celebrating their lives—sharing stories, reminiscing, and finding solace in the enduring impact they had on our lives.

Although you might find it too difficult to do so during the immediacy of your loss, celebrating a loved one’s life and can assist with your own grief and healing.

Conclusion: A Journey of Healing and Resilience

Grieving a loss isn’t a process with a definitive endpoint; it’s a journey—a deeply personal journey that intertwines the threads of pain and healing, love and loss. It’s about navigating the waves of sorrow with kindness, acknowledging that healing isn’t about forgetting but about honoring and integrating the memories into our lives.

Remember, there’s no “right” way to grieve. Each individual’s journey is unique—a testament to the depth of love and the enduring legacy of those we hold dear.  Know that you are not alone and seek support while you allow yourself to go through the process.

Gentle Introspection and Reflection Prompts

Grief—a journey of remembrance, love, and healing that reverberates through the corridors of our soul. In the wake of loss, navigating this labyrinth of emotions can feel overwhelming. Today, let’s explore gentle questions and prompts that serve as companions on this heartfelt journey of grieving, offering solace and guidance amidst the storm.

Acknowledging Emotions:

  • What emotions do you find surfacing most frequently since the loss?
  • Are there moments or triggers that intensify these emotions?

Reflecting on Memories:

  • What memories bring solace or evoke a sense of peace amidst the sorrow?
  • Are there cherished rituals or activities that honor and celebrate the life of your loved one?

Embracing Self-Compassion:

  • How are you nurturing yourself during this time of grief?
  • What practices or self-care rituals offer moments of comfort or relief?

Seeking Support and Connection:

  • Who in your circle provides a safe space for sharing your feelings and thoughts?
  • In what ways can you reach out for support or engage with others who understand your journey?

Finding Meaning in Loss:

  • Have there been moments where you’ve discovered unexpected sources of strength or resilience?
  • Are there aspects of life that have shifted or gained new perspective since the loss?

Honoring Legacy:

  • What ways can you celebrate and honor the legacy of your loved one?
  • Are there creative outlets or projects that allow you to express your emotions or preserve memories?

Communication of Your Feelings:

  • Can you write a letter to your loved one expressing how you feel?
  • Can you create a ceremony of your own with this letter after you have written it by burying it, throwing it in a large body of water, placing it in a loving place, putting it on meaningful stationary, etc.?

Embracing Healing and Growth:

  • What moments or practices offer glimpses of healing or light amidst the darkness?
  • How can you integrate the memories and lessons learned from your loved one into your life moving forward?

Remember, these questions and prompts are gentle companions on your journey of grieving, meant to offer moments of reflection and insight. Embrace them at your own pace, allowing your heart to navigate this sensitive path of healing and remembrance.

Wishing you strength and resilience,