Grief transports you to the deepest places when you have no choice but to let go, when the loss of vital relationships or vital attachments feels like (or is) death itself.
Grief will come forward in response to death, the end of a love relationship, the irretrievable loss of your health or well-being, the loss of a cherished goal or possession, or the stunning betrayal of your trust
[I will use the *symbol as representation on the different losses from here on forward in this article].
Grief will also arise in response to never having had something we’re all supposed to take for granted, such as health, strength, security, or a happy childhood.”1
I want to make the bold statement that people in general do not understand grief or know how to deal with it in a self-compassionate way. We are somehow scared of entering the dark cave of grief and sitting with our loss. We are scared that we might get lost inside and never find out way out again.
Grief is different from sadness in that it occurs as the result of having to let go of something [*] without having a choice in the matter.
In our western way of dealing with grief our rituals around death [*] are very limited. Funerals take an hour or two or three and then we are expected to enter normal life again. We generally do not have loss-rituals when our grief is as a result of the end of a love relationship, the irretrievable loss of your health or well-being, the loss of a cherished goal or possession, or the stunning betrayal of your trust. We often don't even acknowledge these as reasons to grieve at all.
We do not go about grief in an embodied way, it is mostly an intellectual experience. We cry, we do talk about the deceased/[*]; we try to find solace in spiritual and intellectual ideas about the person being in a better place, or the person no longer suffering or the lessons we learnt from the experience or it being part of a divine plan for our lives. I want to suggest a different approach;
I made a photo collage after my divorce, because essentially I lost the idea/hope/image/dream of my family…this was my representation of what I lost. I eventually tore up a photograph of our family as it used to be and released it into a flowing stream, like one would do with someone’s ashes.
We put a tree in the front of the church at my father’s funeral. This tree was later planted on my brother’s farm, and it stands there forever as a remembrance of whom my father was to me.
There is no right and wrong way to grieve, but avoiding the grieving process ultimately or over-spiritualizing it, can cause numbness and disconnection from the world.
Reach out if you need help. What you are experiencing is normal!
[*] death, the end of a love relationship, the irretrievable loss of your health or well-being, the loss of a cherished goal or possession, or the stunning betrayal of your trust
1 McLaren, Karla. The Language of Emotions
I am a Grief Counselor & Self-care coach.