Such a small word but filled with so much emotion and complexity.
Most people associate grief with death, inevitably we will all face this at some point in our lives. However, grief is not just about death, it is about loss. We grieve the loss of “something” in our life. The past year is a real example of how this has affected us collectively. We have lost freedom, social contact, some of us lost jobs, marriages and many of us lost loved ones. The emotional rollercoaster that COVID has bought into our lives is something that we are still dealing with on a daily basis, some days are harder than others but there are ways to cope with grief and look forward.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross devised what is known as the “Five stages of grief”;
These are not linear and often we oscillate from various stages but not necessarily all of them.
You may be able to relate this to an event in your own life…David Kessler who worked with Kubler Ross has now added a sixth stage after dealing with his own personal tragedy.
… this is not to say that that you must find meaning to someone’s death, it’s about thinking how that person affected your life and how you can bring that into your life to help you go on.
As sombre as it may sound suffering is a part of human existence to which no one is immune.
This is such a hard concept for us to embrace but in reality so much of what we suffer is actually resistance to the experience. Just like night leads to day, part of the human experience is about the dualities of life, without suffering how would we know joy? No one likes going through it but remember you are not alone.
Grief does not have a timescale and it is so personal that even though we can empathise we cannot truly experience it like the bereaved person. We don’t just get over grief; we learn to live with it. All human beings need connection and just by reaching out and telling someone that you are there to help them through their pain is enough.
Think about a friend going through a divorce or a job loss, remember these life events also cause grief.
Supressing painful emotions simply make them rise up even more or we hold these in our body and it can lead to depression or other dis – ease. Grief shows that something mattered to you, how wonderful that you cared about something or someone so deeply. You are not weak to grieve the loss of that.
Often we numb ourselves to take away the pain but ask yourself is what I am doing helping me or harming me – refraining from the smallest harmful action is an act of kindness to yourself.
Sometimes we think we are over it and our inner critic can berate us for feeling emotional and low – reframe it, sometimes we think we have dealt with something and then a new layer arises – this is ok, this is normal and a part of healing.
Other ways that you can help yourself to cope with grief:
- Choose where you are directing your attention – intentionally seeking out what is good in your life can help lower your stress and increase gratitude
- Move your body, a simple walk get out in nature and breathe in some fresh air
- Journal it out – release the built up emotions. Don’t think about what you are writing, just let the pen flow
- Watch a light hearted show, laughter is so healing
- Seek out connection, call a friend or if you can, hug someone.
- If you are finding it all too overwhelming, just give yourself one task a day. Even if it is just having a shower
- If your thoughts are “I feel really hopeless” – reframe this –“I feel really hopeless now but this is not my forever”.
When we are in the depths of grief it can feel like we will never emerge but this too shall pass and you will find that one day you smile and you really feel it in your heart. Keep going. You can heal from grief.
You can access Shelly’s website http://shellysaggarcoaching.com/
Books that can help:
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, David Kessler, et al: On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss
David Kessler: Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief
Pema Chodran – When things fall apart
Anita Moorjani _ Dying to be me
Elizabeth Lesser – Broken Open
Sheryl Sandberg – Option B