Understanding your grief
How to understand your grief when your world has been turned upside down.

7 DAYS OF HEALING : DAY 3

There is one cardinal rule to understanding your grief -- expect the unexpected. Losing someone unexpectedly to an accident, violence, or unknown causes is not different from losing them to a foreseen disease or illness. No one loss is more traumatizing than another. No matter how you experience loss, your life will never be the same. As we adjust to our new reality without them, there will be challenges that can seem overwhelming. Before we can muster the strength to work through our grief, we first need to understand what grief really is. 

Grief vs Grieving

What is grief exactly? Grief is our emotional state, how we react to loss. Grieving is the process where we adapt and adjust to life without who or what we lose. While we continue to live and make memories, the new moments we have with the deceased cease. This realization is why the grieving process never truly ends. How you grieve merely changes form over time. The initial pain dulls to an ache. The hole left in your heart scabs over, but missing their physical presence and what they represented in our lives remains forever.

Acknowledge your grief

Usually, grieving individuals are encouraged to 'be strong.' This limiting belief is even self-imposed, especially if the individual is the head of the household or holds some other leadership position, whether in the community or their family. However, 'holding it together' for the sake of others doesn't allow room to acknowledge grief, let alone feel it. Death brings about transformation and shifts the world as you once knew it. By recognizing that your world has changed, you are extending yourself the grace necessary to start healing.

You are not alone.

Grief is a deeply personal yet shared experience that we will all encounter at some point or another. It's common for happiness and joy to trigger feelings of isolation and loneliness for grieving individuals, especially when surrounded by family and friends immersed in the holiday spirit. It's important to remember that whether loved ones can directly relate, you are less alone than you realize. Although individually we process grief differently, someone somewhere can identify with your thoughts or feelings. And even those who have yet to encounter grief can support us by simply being present.

Grief is unpredictable.

Grief manifests in several different ways. Any combination of emotions may arise from anger, sadness, and despair to shock, numbness, and longing. One person can experience emotional outbursts, yet the next person may feel nothing. Some find comfort in openly expressing their pain, while others are more comfortable sorting out their feelings solo. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. No matter how much time has passed, being hit with a pang of grief can be as fresh as the first time it strikes. It may seem counterintuitive to ride the wave of complex feelings grief can bring, but surpressing your emotions versus embracing your triggers will only prolong the grieving process. Let go of all preconceived notions and expectations of what grieving should feel or look like.

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