Grief is a difficult emotion to help people with, because we all experience it in a completely different way. However, its one I’d like to write about today because at some point in our lives, we are ALL going to experience it. Grief does not care what colour, age or sex we are. Grief is a universal experience through every walk of life. Not only is grief an emotional experience, it is also a mental, physical and spiritual experience. We are affected on every level of our being.
The strange thing about grief is that many of us won’t feel it until well into adulthood. As children, we are exposed to all sorts of emotions and so learn how to express or cope with them as we grow up. Some people are in their 40s or 50s before they experience grief for the first time. It is very disconcerting to suddenly have a flood of hugely overwhelming emotion and absolutely no benchmark, example to follow or ‘easy guide’ to dealing with it. We should never judge another person’s way of grieving. Until we’ve walked in their shoes, we have no idea. Grief isn’t only over the loss of a loved one either ~ there is grief over the loss of a marriage/long term relationship, over the loss of a home or family dynamic, loss of our health/mobility or loss of a particular way of living or lifestyle.
Grief is an awkward thing to deal with too ~ what do we say to someone? Sorry just doesn’t seem enough. Just being there, with an open heart, mind and ears works wonders. Stepping through our own discomfort to offer whatever words come from our heart can help someone else enormously. They may not even register it at the time, but I’ve had people come back to me months later and say thank you, words they simply weren’t able to express at the time. Or offer practical help if you know someone is struggling. Make them a meal, handle some admin, offer to do those silly chores that pale into insignificance when grief hits. Or simply just be there ~ no need to say anything, just be present and leave the space filled with love, silent support and peace.
So how do we process grief?
When we are wounded, our instinctive response is to isolate ourselves. It is a perfectly natural defence mechanism to deal with the shock. We are trying to cushion ourselves against the overwhelming onslaught of emotions. Although this is a well known stage of grief, I personally would recommend not going through it alone. Most people will have lost someone or something they love, so although they may not understand exactly what we are experiencing, they will certainly have sympathy or empathy for the emotions racing through our system.
If we feel like being alone, then honour that ~ just don’t stay isolated for too long. Keep returning to others and sharing ~ even if it is to simply sit with a friend or family member in silence. They will still be supporting us energetically and helping our system to cope. I have often heard people say ‘well they haven’t cried yet’ or ‘they aren’t showing any emotion at all’. That is because that person is in the denial/isolation phase and probably aren’t able to cope ~ or it could be because they don’t express their grief in the same way we would ~ and thats OK too.
After the initial shock, we may experience anger. Our emotions are coming to the surface and we have to deal with them. Rather than do that, many of us will default to anger in some form. We also might want to blame something, especially if the loss has come out of the blue. It could be an inanimate object, a family member, the hospital, a doctor…… it is much easier to funnel our grief into anger or injustice as these are strong, defensive emotions that make us feel safer and in control.
If feeling this way, be kind to ourselves ~ any professional involved will have seen it 100s of times and not react. Anyone whom has experienced grief will understand and not take it personally. If we find ourselves losing the plot with a complete stranger ~ vent and then apologise, even if its just to bark out ‘Sorry, I’ve just lost my…………’. People will understand.
We may feel depressed. This could be due to worry and stress over practical things such as arranging a funeral, financial concerns, payment of bills, where we’re going to live if leaving a long term relationship and a myriad of other things that can overwhelm and cause us to feel helpless. Our emotions will crash as again, we feel like we cannot cope. Another form of depression is quite personal and deep. It may stay for weeks, months or even years as we learn to cope with the loss of someone or something close to us. Thats OK too. No one can say there is a right or wrong way to experience grief. It just is. Whatever we need to do to cope and keep on getting up and making it through a day is just fine.
Over time, the anger and depressive feelings should fade and we arrive in a place of acceptance. This is easier when we are aware someone is going to pass soon as we’ll have been mentally and emotionally preparing ourselves. Acceptance may take longer if our loss is sudden and unexpected or in the case of a relationship ending, if there is conflict or betrayal. There is no right or wrong length of time, there is only your time, so take as much as you need.
When my Nana died several years ago, I was devastated. She was like a second mum to me. Nana fell and hit her head on the back step, so was taken to hospital. I nipped up to visit and went down to physiotherapy with her as she was so wobbly on her feet. I was the last family member to see her before she had a stroke that night. When we heard the news, my aunt and I dashed up to the hospital and I thought things would be OK as Nana sat up, tried to smile and held my hand for a few seconds. However, she fell back on to the bed and never regained full conciousness again.
The hospital said there was no hope and began the Liverpool Care Pathway, which withdraws food/fluids except morphine. For another 10 days, by beautiful, stubborn Nana held on and wasted away. It was awful. Anyone who has experienced this form of passing knows just how horrendous it is. On day 9 I was left alone with her for half an hour whilst other family members went for a coffee. Quickly, before anyone came back, I got my crystals out and did some energy work, going round to each of Nana’s chakra points to ensure the energy was clean and clear, ready for her to move on. The only section I couldn’t budge was her heart chakra. There were huge, thick cords there that were clinging on so tightly to our world. I sat and held Nana’s hand and cried, begging her to let go, reassuring her that us girls would be OK. I gave as much reiki as I could and told her stories of how Grandad would be waiting for her. They said she couldn’t really hear or understand us, but Nana moved her hand across mine, back and forth several times and squeezed. Nana passed the next day aged 84.
Even now, writing this, the tears are pouring down my face. I lost my Nan over three years ago and it still hurts. I’ll always always miss her. Grief sucks! We have to move on though, we have to get through each day and live. Its OK to want to withdraw, its OK to feel angry, its OK to feel low or depressed, its OK to cry. All of it is OK because there is no right way to grieve…..there is only our way.
I got through mine by knowing Nana had led a good life, had been loved, cared for and adored by her family. I talked to people, shared my feelings and when a song came on in the middle of driving somewhere that started the tears, I just pulled over and bawled until I was done. It still hurt in places and ways I’d never imagined and didn’t even know existed until that point! The only personal advice I can give is LET IT OUT. Don’t bottle anything up, allow yourself to be whatever you need to be to get through.
I also covered myself in crystals!! There are several crystals that can be used to help cope with grief. I would place as much Rose Quartz in the bedroom as possible, all around the bed. This will soothe and support our energy system whilst we sleep. Chrysocolla is excellent for the mental anguish and in processing things through our physical body, such as shock. Mangano Calcite is a wonderful, stable, heart based stone that is incredibly supportive. It bolsters our emotions and also deals with shock. Scolecite is one of the most comforting crystals in the Mineral Kingdom. If you aren’t able to share and gain comfort from others for awhile, then use Scolecite to provide the feeling of being hugged. Its an ‘everything is going to be OK’ stone. Apache Tears, Kunzite and Watermelon Tourmaline are said to help process grief, although I personally haven’t used those for grief yet.
So when grief comes around, which it will for all of us one day, be kind to yourself. If you know someone else is going through it, reach out ~ a card popped through the letterbox, a few words, a touch on the shoulder, a hug. Just let them know you’re there if they need you. It means so much to know we are not alone in our time of pain. I leave you with this incredible link that describes exactly what Grief is like for most of us, from the heart of a 70 year old man………Click Here.
With Much Love