I experienced my first major loss at the age of 11 when my father passed away, then it was my grandmother who made a transition to ‘the other side’, and later in life I parted ways with the person I loved deeply. Here are some things I learnt when dealing with my grief.
It is okay to not be okay
When my father expired, my family was told that we’ve got to move on. So we started to live and behave as if it was all okay, and now as I look back, I understand that this need to move on was what caused us the most distress. Over the following years, this denial of our emotions was at the root of various conflicts in our relationships.
No matter how wise or strong you are, there are times when we all feel broken, we all cry and we are just not okay. The greatest fallacy of our society is that it teaches us to deny pain. We want that feeling of sadness to go away; but run all you might, it will come back stronger and faster. It’s alright to cry as much as you want to about it. Do not suppress or deny what you feel, that will only cut your wound deeper.
Motivational speaker Iyanla Vanzant says, “If you argue against reality, you will always lose.” I’d say, we not only lose, we get battered and in the end fall flat on our faces.
Don’t give it a deadline
We are vulnerable when we are grieving or mourning. This is not the time to compare yourself to others or be worried about your inability to get back to normal. Just remind yourself that there is a difference between before and after, and that you are going through a phase. No one else can predict how long the healing will take, not even you. Grief can bring along with it five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. You are only healed when you accept it in your heart. Everyone has their own ways and take their own time to deal with grief.
Nothing heals us better than communing with nature. Have a walk in the park, water the plants or go to any place where nature is abundant. Nature has the innate capacity to heal. It will always end up soothing your heart and clearing your mind.
Dial a counsellor
Seeking out professional help does not mean that you are incapable of handling yourself. It means you are brave enough to acknowledge your situation. When I knew that my separation with my partner was too much for me to handle all by myself, I sought the help of a counsellor. And you know what—it did wonders for me. During times of grief, our judgment get clouded. A professional helps us see more clearly so that we can deal with our emotions more effectively. Also, there is nothing more comfortable than knowing that you are supported in your grief and you are not alone in this world.
Do something you enjoy Everyone has something that they enjoy doing so much that they forget everything else. Whatever that activity is for you, indulge in it, even if only for a while. It can be cooking, dancing, driving or anything you loved doing as a child. For me it is writing. I pen down my thoughts, I write a story, a poem or even a letter. It heals me from within. I know someone whose passion was playing basketball and during her lows she not only started playing it more often, but also took to coaching street children. I saw her grow as a human being and heal herself through her favourite sport. Sometimes grief has its own way of showing us new paths.
Watch your behaviour
It’s sad but true that often, to escape the pain, we indulge in compulsive behaviour. It can be anything from getting violent to substance abuse to extreme sexual activities or just being mean and spiteful to others. One of my friends, whenever she hit a low, would indulge in sexual activities with random strangers. When her other friends and I tried to talk sense to her about the risks of her actions, she would verbally abuse us. Even though we loved her a lot, her abuses got too much for us to take and we drifted apart. This left her feeling lonely and isolated.
Also, if we have someone who advises us or gives us a patient hearing during our moments of despair, we must consider ourselves fortunate that there’s someone who cares enough and so, they should be treated with respect. Directing our anger towards them will only intensify our misery.
This is one thing that has always worked. We breathe without effort. Till that breath is there, we can assure ourselves that there is a higher power that is looking after us. Have faith that if you have come here, you have all the power to make it out of here too. This too shall pass. And it always does.
Grief is something that strikes everyone unawares, despite our best prayers. I believe that grief always leaves us with gems along the way. Trust the process. You will be fine.
This was first published in the November 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing.