At some point in time in our lives, we will all have to face the loss of someone precious – whether it be a person or fur kid. Yet we receive no guidance or training in how to handle these situations. And our culture isn’t exactly open about discussing things like this.
Here are my 5 Top Tips for Experiencing Grief
1. Self Nurturing – if not now, then when?
This is a time when you need to focus on self-nurturing, self love and doing what you need to do for you. You are allowed to grieve, in a way that works for you, within the bounds of individual responsibility. If you don’t allow yourself to nurture yourself at a time when you are emotionally raw and truly in need of some self nurture, then when will you?
2. Allow it to be However it Shows Up – aka resistance is futile
You only feel deep grief if you have felt deep love. When it comes to grief, there are no absolutes, save one. You will have fabulous days, you will have not so fabulous days and you will have days where you just want to curl up in the foetal position and cry like there’s no tomorrow. And you can go from having a fabulous day to the foetal position in a matter of seconds. You might even get to string together a number of fabulous days and think that you are returning to some sort of normality and then something will trigger a memory – be it a sight, a sound, a smell, some music etc and you will instantly feel like a rug has been pulled out from underneath you and you start to wonder if you will ever feel “normal” again – whatever that is. That’s how grief works. When grief appears, the very best thing you can do is just to allow it to be.
3. Focussing on the Sacred – honour your loved one in ways right for you
Your relationship with your loved one was unique. Just as was everyone else’s. Doing something that was special for the two of you could be something that someone else in their life might be horrified at. My sister Bess was big into glitter. She wasn’t a girly girl, but she totally loved bling and glitter. She worked for a funeral company and her best friend still does. This beautiful friend and a couple of others were charged with preparing Bess for the viewing. We had viewings for both my Gran and Dad and they just didn’t look like how I knew them to look, so I actually wasn’t going to do another viewing. But something said to me that Bess’s would be different and it was. I think maybe because the people preparing her had known Bess so well in real life, they knew what she was meant to look like. The make-up was perfect and she truly looked like she was just sleeping. But the best bit was that they had surrounded her in the coffin with a truckload of glitter – all different colours and sizes. It was totally perfect for who she was, but I dare say there could be some other people who would not have approved. When we scattered her ashes, there was also some extra glitter added in then as well.
4. Focussing on the Sassy – make no apologies, but take no prisoners
This might sound a bit weird, but it follows on from allowing your grief to be and honouring your loved one in an authentic way. One thing that really cheeses me off is hearing people apologise for grieving, for crying. You have absolutely nothing to apologise for when it comes to feeling and expressing your grief. So many people feel that they can’t talk to anyone about what they are feeling because it will make the other person uncomfortable. Right here, right now, I say to you “who gives a stuff!!” You have had someone precious in your world die, you are actually allowed to grieve – strange as it may seem. And truly, if someone else gets uncomfortable because of your grief, it really is more about them and what may or may not be going for them rather than you.
So that’s the make no apologies bit covered. The take no prisoners then relates to allowing others to grieve in ways that are right for them. When my Dad died 15 years ago, we had a family lunch at a local pub after the service. One of my family members disappeared for hours and did not join us for lunch. At the time, I remember feeling hurt and angry. Now, with the benefit of hindsight and a bit of maturity, I can acknowledge that this person was doing what was right for them. They needed some space to just be with what they were feeling, and right at that moment, they needed to be on their own. Does that mean we weren’t hurt and disappointed, absolutely not and that was our authenticity. But we had to allow them to be.
We don’t have the right to expect someone to grieve in the same way that we do. Just because someone is not crying their heart out does not mean that they are feeling any less pain than you may be. Allow your grief to be in ways that are authentic for you, but also allow others the same right.
5. If you Need Help, Ask for it. You don’t have to go it alone
You will know within yourself if your grief is overwhelming you to the degree where you need some assistance. If you are feeling this, seek some help. Please. There are numerous ways that you can get assistance. There are phone services like Lifeline etc and if your loved one died as a result of cancer, all of the state cancer organisations have phone services that can assist. If you belong to a religious organisation, there will generally be assistance that can be provided through there. There are professional counsellors, psychologists etc that can assist.
Peace & blessings, Sharon