Loss and the grief that follows is universal and it is something that all people will experience at some point in life. Yet, society as a whole is uncomfortable with grief and sometimes, society fears it. Grief is scary and sadly, loss can and will change lives. There is no easy way to grieve and quite honestly, people often try to ignore it or hide it. The result? People find themselves isolated and feeling alone far too long.
The first thing that most people think of when we talk about loss and grief is death. Obviously, death is one of the most difficult losses to face. However, there are many types of loss during a person’s life cycle and in truth, most loss leads to grief. Surprisingly, there are times when even a happy event can lead to grieving.
Russell Friedman of The Grief Recovery Institute wrote an article titled “Over 40 Life Experiences You Might Have That Cause Grief”. It is an excellent article and one I would venture to guess surprises a few people. This poignant article highlights more than 40 life experiences that can cause a person to grieve.
Keeping that in mind, it is no surprise that we as a society are grieving far more often than we realize. Sadly, there are far too many myths that wrap cobwebs of misinformation around grieving hearts. People shy away from grief, feel uncomfortable with it and in the end, try to outrun it. In short, there are far too many souls that feel uncomfortable in their own grief.
Society has aligned itself with a set of expectations that make it difficult for people to face their fears and dare to grieve. Unfortunately, many of these societal expectations are misleading and when believed, people remain stuck in their grief. Hearts remain broken and it becomes difficult to heal or move forward regardless of the loss.
So how can a person find courage and dare to grieve? How does a person struggling with a loss of any kind face their fears and heal a broken heart? Why do some people dare to grieve while others hide their grief and pretend like it doesn’t exist?
Grief is 100% normal.
People are uncomfortable with grief and therefore there are many who fail to embrace it or understand it. Most do not know what to say to people who are grieving and in turn, they say things that sometimes makes it worse. Or, people choose to say nothing at all and the one grieving feels unsupported and alone. Isolated and burdened with confusing emotions, the grieving sometimes feel different or like something is wrong with them. I can promise you, grief is a normal reaction to a loss and it is important that you dare to grieve.
There are no time limits to grief.
Grief is personal and it belongs to you and only you. There are NO time limits to how long a person should grieve. Everyone grieves in their own way and on their own time. Grief is like a wave in the ocean. There will be days when the water is calm but without warning, a powerful wave will crash into the shore. And so it is with grief. It does not matter if it has been one week, one month, one year or ten years. That wave can show up at any time and when it does, it can knock you over and leave you struggling just to breathe. Time does not control grief. With that being said, grief can soften over time, but it is not time in and of itself that heals a broken heart.
You are not alone.
The grieving often feel isolated and like they are walking the path of grief alone. People feel misunderstood and again, feel that they are expected to suck it up and move on. Please remember that you are NOT alone. Everyone faces loss and everyone grieves. Grief is prejudice to no one and it is something that bonds every single person together that lives and breathes. No one gets to escape loss. Loss shows up every single day and with loss comes change and with change comes grief. Remember, there are more than 40 life experiences that can lead to grief. It is through our common experiences that lead human beings toward one another and lives are connected through loss. You are not alone.
Awareness is key.
It is impossible to heal or fix something if we do not first recognize that it exists. Death and divorce are big losses and for most, these are two losses that are hard to ignore. However, it is critical that people are aware of the many losses during this journey that can cause anxiety, stress, fear, sadness and grief. Loss does not always show up with a bang but instead can be subtle and silent. People may feel angry or unhappy but fail to recognize what is lying at the root of their feelings or pain. Pay attention to your experiences and be aware that grief is born out of loss whether big or small. Loss can include death of a pet, diagnosis of an illness, ending an addiction, holidays, marriage, graduation, moving or facing an empty nest. Become aware and dare to grieve.
Talk about it.
Sadly, many people internalize their grief and attempt to hide how they are feeling to the outside world. Grief can be difficult to talk about therefore people stuff their grief deep down inside. Everything appears to “be fine” on the outside but a grieving person is often drowning on the inside. Holding everything in can lead to far bigger issues and at times will keep a person stuck in a place they no longer want to be.
Hiding grief and failing to take the steps necessary to heal sometimes shows up sideways and people engage in behaviors that make things worse. People will attempt to numb their pain or mask their grief. It is important to be aware and to avoid things that might make you feel better in the moment but eventually compounds your grief. Things to watch out for might include alcohol, drugs, food, sex, shopping and working too much.
Ask for help.
You can try to ignore the elephant sitting in the room but eventually grief is impossible to ignore. If you are dealing with loss it is important to acknowledge the loss and face your grief. Grief can feel overwhelming and often times people feel like they will never feel happiness again. Life changes with loss. Things will be different but there are steps people can take to heal their hearts and face their grief.
There are many resources out there including excellent books, clergy and counselors that deal with grief. The grief recovery method is a proven program offering specific actions needed to move beyond loss. It is easy to feel alone in your grief but I can assure you there are people in your life that want to help you and care. Dare to grieve and ask for help.
I have come to believe that unresolved grief is one of the biggest issues people face in their lives. Left unattended, grief can fester and evolve into an enormous problem. If you are facing a loss of any kind it is probable that grief has become a part of who you are. Don’t ignore it. Take care of yourself. Rest as much as possible, eat healthy meals and exercise when you can. Surround yourself with positive things and positive people. Do something that you are passionate about. Read, watch movies and listen to good music. Talk about your feelings. Cry when you need and laugh as much as you can. Live in gratitude and remember that there is always something to be grateful for. Hang on to hope and have faith that while things are different and hard, you will be okay.
Loss and the grief that comes with it is often a game changer. Your life will change and there will be days when you feel like it is hard to breathe. Grief can throw a person into a pit of darkness and sometimes people will feel as if they will never be able to climb out. Loss and grief are hard. It may not be easy and the road may be long, but dare to grieve and you can rediscover a life filled with happiness and joy.
In peace and with love,