Creating Peace-of-Mind – Walking Through Grief

Yesterday, the search terms that jumped out at me were how to try to forgive, and inspiration when self-esteem is low. To speak to these two issues… We are working though a process that will improve your self-esteem, so join in and follow along this blog for the next several days. One of the things we are working toward is forgiveness, both of others and ourselves. The point is, I can address both of these issues…

So far, I have spoken about identifying wounds that form your feelings, and the fear associated with your behavior that keeps you stuck. Today, we will move through the feeling of grief.

Grief is defined by John W. James and Russell Friedman in The Grief Recovery Handbook: 20th Anniversary Edition as the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior. So, grief can occur from the death of a loved one, as well as loss of a job, divorce, or a move to a new location.

They believe there are no stages that one goes through in grief, and that each person’s grieving process is totally unique to them. It is dependent on the ways they saw grief handled when they were growing up.

The messages we were told when growing up were: don’t feel bad, replace what was lost, grieve alone, just give it time, and be strong for others. These messages lead us to isolate and to hold in our pain when we grieve, neither of which serves to move us through the process to wholeness.

John and Russell advocate reading their book and doing the exercises with another person who is going through the grieving process, so each can be a support and a sounding board for the other.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross defined five stages to the grieving process which can occur in any order, but generally follow the path of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These she defines in relation to the death and dying process. They occur as a “dance,” with an intermingling of the stages, completion of one or two, then return to the first, then move to the third, and so forth.

Depression when you experience a loss is normal. To not be depressed is unusual. After all, what you are coping with is depressing. It is not clinical depression, however, if you have underlying depression to begin with, you may wish to consult a professional to see if anti-depressants are warranted for you.

There is no fast and easy way through grief. It takes time and the recognition of our feelings. Furthermore, it involves the expression of those feelings to someone, be it a therapist, a trusted friend or family member, or someone else who is grieving. Since we learned at a young age that no one wanted to hear about our grief, this is especially difficult for most people, yet, it is necessary for the process to flow forward.

One way to also let your feelings be heard is to journal. I suggest writing with your “other” hand, the one you don’t typically write with, your non-dominant hand. By doing this, you exercise the other side of your brain and all sorts of deep feelings well up. This is an especially safe way to express yourself, but it is still crucial that you express your feelings to another being.

In the end, acceptance is what is gained. To quote Kubler-Ross about acceptance, “Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being ‘all right’ or ‘okay’ with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel okay or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality.”

It is possible to get past and through your grief, as long as you can identify and speak about your feelings. They are not wrong or stupid to have, and you are not bothering another to talk about them.

Today, look at all the losses you have suffered in your lifetime. Draw a timeline of your losses, beginning with the first recollection you have in life. Your loss may involve the grief from the lack of a normal childhood, or it may involve the loss of a pet, a divorce. Whatever the reason, it is important to bring those feelings to the forefront to examine and feel, and then to share them with another. I wish you well in your journey.

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