Trust That Grief Is Part of Healing
Time doesn’t heal the pain associated with a loss; it’s what you do with that time that matters. Grief is the process by which you heal. Experiencing the pain rather than constantly trying to escape it, can actually help you feel better in the long-term.
So while it may be tempting to pretend the holidays don’t exist—or to numb the pain with alcohol—temporarily avoiding the pain only prolongs the anguish. Eventually, the holidays and all the first, second, third and so on of the events, will get easier, but only if you allow yourself to experience the grief of going through them without your loved one.
I experience this wave of grief in my own life. Going into the holidays since my mom has passed away, Thanksgiving has never been the same. I have found myself wishing she was here, feeling sad over memories, yet I also find myself cherishing the memories that I hold dear to my heart. Christmas music, holiday parties, and festive decorations that were meant to bring joy have served as painful reminders of my loss. As it is for most people experiencing loss, the holiday season seems to be the most painful time of all.
I have found that I have been blessed in so many ways since my moms passing. I have had “Friendsgivings”, I have cooked, and I had a Thanksgiving with the my boys and I. This year I get to have my frist Thanksgiving with a very dear friend and my podcast partner. These new memories are ones I wouldn’t have any other way. I am so blessed and thankful.
But after the holidays are over, the pain and grief are still real and still need to be dealt with and healed.
HOW DO YOU HEAL FROM GRIEF?
There is no right answer to how one heals. A break up not wanted, a divorce not expected, death, death of a parent, sickness of a dear friend, all add up and take over our life for as long as we allow it. Grief doesn’t fit in a box, either. Some forms of grief take years to work through, other types take a few solid months, some take a single moment of deep acknowledgement. Depending on the grief will depend on the steps you take to get over it. The clock starts when you begin to recognize your grief. In other words, when you genuinely begin to address what happened (or perhaps what never happened).
Outside your bubble, the world continues without you, while everything inside feels deadened, empty, even hopeless. You feel isolated and alone. You may feel directionless, as if you can’t see your way through this darkness to any possibilities beyond this bubble that now separates you from the world.
Working through the reality of this loss means entering into the deeply uncomfortable experience of withdrawal. Mourning the loss of this entity that you helped to create is also the beginning of letting go, not because you want to, but because you have to. It will start to feel lighter, less scary, and the withdrawal ultimately subsides. I remember the first time I couldn’t talk to my mom, I couldn’t go see her, hold her hand and tell her what was going on in my life. My mom was my person of reason. She helped me see things in ways I couldn’t. She helped me get through some heartache in my own life and now that person is no longer here to help me get through this pain.
Today, as I am living through my third holiday season with out what was my “normal”, I find myself dealing with grief in a way I didn’t think I would. I find myself more emotional, yet more understanding and caring towards others who are grieving. I feel a lot of my mom inside of me, but I miss the hell out of her. I understand that the loss of my mom is no different then the grief of someone hurting over a break-up, or any other grief they may face today. I realize that grief for all of us comes in all shapes and sizes.
Eventually, by allowing yourself to be in this difficult process rather than postpone it, you will begin to see the difference between a breakup and a death. Death is final. After a breakup, if you can stumble through withdrawal with one foot in front of the other, understanding that you are still in the world, and allowing yourself to mourn through the loss, you can eventually return to yourself —maybe even a wiser, deeper, stronger and more resilient version of yourself. If you choose, this process will allow you to make room to co-create a fulfilling, reciprocal relationship in the future, even if you can’t believe that just yet. And most importantly, by allowing yourself to truly mourn the end of a relationship, you can move forward into what could be much less encumbered by what has been.
Build your support team and keep them close by. Accept that they want to help you and may understand your pain. Even if they don’t understand, don’t push them away. We begin to see grief as our great teacher that reminds us to ask, “Why do I grieve? What do I believe I have lost? Why was it important to me? How do I reconnect with its essence?” The death of a loved one, save the memories, allow yourself to enjoy all the years that you had. In a break up, ask yourself what you actually lost? Understand you are worth it and that was not the right person. This takes some digging and soul searching.
Like everything else, all suffering will go, until one day it comes again. But next time you can be stronger and wiser.
The greatest thing about whatever caused this grief, is that it helps us grow up. It matures us. It brings wisdom. It strengthens our bones. It teaches us to let go. For some, letting go is not natural. But sadly, part of the process.
We learn we can go through hard times, and with little effort the sun shines again. We can take off our shoes and touch our toes to sand and run on the beach, knowing that we made it through. Our happiness never really went away—it still exists inside of us—yet, we are remembering it anew. Fresh, transformed, aliveness engages us again. You can live in the now again, let new people into your life and also hold dear to the memories once made. Life is about experiences, yet too short to allow the painful ones to stop us from living new ones ahead.
I have no answers on this process, everyone will walk their path at their pace, but I can help you along this journey and help you see that the light is shining bright at the end of this dark tunnel. Don’t be afraid to reach out and seek some help. I love you my friend and I to understand this darkness that can over take you, as I have been there.
Becky Shaffer—-Life Coach—-Author—-Educator *liveinconfidence@gmail.
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