“Don’t let anyone take your grief away from you. You deserve it, and you must have it. If you had a broken leg, no one would criticize you for using crutches until it was healed. If you had a major surgery, no one would pressure you to run a marathon the next week. Grief is a major wound. It does not heal overnight. You must have the time and crutches until you heal.” ~ Doug Manning, Don’t Take My Grief Away
Last week, I gave a broad description about what grief is. This week I want to narrow the focus on a more personal level and help you discover how to deal with your own grief/loss.
How long will my grief last?
Grief may take longer than you ever imagined. It tends to intensify at three months, special dates (Birthdays and Holidays) and the one year anniversary. Holidays can be especially difficult and oftentimes will catch us unaware.
Why do I feel like I am going "crazy"?
I hear this feeling very often. "Nick, my mind and emotions are going 15 directions at one time...am I going crazy?" No, you certainly aren't going crazy, but experiencing many emotions at one time is very normal and expected.
To the right is the "Tangled Ball of Grief" and it is a great example of what so many experience. On any given day, one could experience a wide range of emotions: sorrow, anguish, loneliness, fear, rage, abandonment, denial, jealousy, regret, emptiness, disappointment, apathy, hurt, anxiety, despair, inadequacy, yearning, pain, guilt, envy, helplessness, vindictiveness, sadness, depression, etc.
It is important during those times to be able to name those emotions, which is why this tool is so helpful, because it allows you to reflect by saying, "Wow, I am experiencing some bitterness and resentment right now...I wonder what is behind that?" By processing those thoughts and emotions, it brings them out in the open for you to deal with instead of being locked up inside you - sometimes eating away at you.
What can I do to help process these feelings?
Grief is a journey, a process - and there is resolution. Lower your expectations and pressures upon yourself. Don’t try to fill your days with so much activity that you avoid your feelings or the reality that someone is missing from your life.
You may have a pastor, a trusted friend or even your company chaplain who you can come to and they can help you process through your grief. It is amazing to witness the healing that can take place when someone will sit down and verbalize the hurt and pain, or even writing them down in a journal of some sort - both have a very healing power within them.
“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the over-wrought heart and bids it break.” ~ William Shakespeare, Macbeth
Decide how you would like to have others respond to you, to best help you, and let them know. You may chose to talk to someone you trust, and this would be a great time for you to communicate with them how they can best help you. If you are like many others in their grieving process, you will find yourself frustrated with people for what they DO say and upset with them for what they DON'T say. That sentiment is quite common and normal. Once you are able, sit down and have an honest conversation with yourself:
How do I want my friends/family to respond?
How could someone best help me through this time?
What is the best way for me to gently and graciously communicate this to them?
"We can endure much more than we think we can; all human experience testifies to that. All we need to do is learn not to be afraid of pain. Grit your teeth and let it hurt. Don't deny it, don't be overwhelmed by it. It will not last forever." ~ Harold Kushner, When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough