Why Feeling Grief is Good for Us
In a past blog, Ronald Pies, M.D. wrote about an experience which left him fuming when a local pharmacy lost close to 50 years of “priceless” home movies of childhood summers and memories gone by. That same day continental flight 3407 went down and the deaths of 50 passengers that day putting everything in perspective. He said “Having problems means being alive” and even though we may struggle in this life, being alive is something to be grateful for.
Days later I learned that a very good friend’s husband was hit by a bus and left in critical condition only to pass away shortly after. He was a great man with a sweet soul and a gentle nature. He loved his animals, his wife, and kids, and seemed to always have a smile for you when in his presence. When I heard the news, I initially felt resistance to the sadness as I had so much to do that day and didn’t feel like I had time to feel it.
My body was starting to feel tense and I noticed irritability arising. A little thought arose, “maybe you should just take some time to feel this, the other stuff can wait.” I found a picture of him online and stared at it for a few moments and then I realized, “I need to feel this” and just let it be. After spending some moments letting the tears roll down, the tension and irritability melted away, I began to feel much more connected to myself and more compassion and empathy arose for my friend who lost her husband.
Mindful grieving informs us to allow ourselves to feel what is there, without judgment. For me, there was sadness there and I needed to nonjudgmentally acknowledge it, feel it, and let it be. It was important in that moment that I didn’t resist it or strive to make it any different, but just feel it as it was. Ronald Pies, M.D. wrote to us, “Having problems means being alive,” and I’d add “Being alive, means grieving loved ones who pass.” Grief is a natural part of the human experience.
While many will relay common grieving experiences, every grieving experience is unique as it’s in relationship to different relationships lost. If you or someone you know has lost someone you know that grief may be something that doesn’t completely go away, but instead evolves and weaves into your life, lessening during some hours and making its presence known during others. No one can truly predict how long grief will last, but we do know one thing, it is a natural an important process in remembering and feeling the connection to those who have passed. The intensity of the grief informs us how deeply we can feel for ourselves and for others. It informs us of the deep love we have in our hearts.
Poet Kahlil Gibran informs us,
“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
Here are 7 tips to help during this time:
- If you are mourning for a recent loss make sure to make time for feeling the emotions that arise, whether they are anger, sadness, or pain. There is no need to judge these emotions as good or bad and know that it is Ok to feel these and they will not last forever as all things come and go. You may even create a little ritual where you spend time with the picture or object connected to the person who has passed.
- Friends sometimes get uncomfortable around grief and if they try and make you feel better in the moment, thank them for this, and let them know it is normal and natural to feel how you feel.
- Make sure to also take care of yourself during this time, go out on a walk, make sure to eat healthy.
- Try and open your eyes to the delights around you. It could be a smile on a child’s face or your own. Smelling a wonderful flower or maybe tasting your own favorite food. Even in the midst of grief we can be open to the wonders of life.
- Know your limits and allow yourself to take a break from feeling when it’s becoming overwhelming, but make sure to let your grief know that you will come back. Make a time to revisit it otherwise it will occupy you all day.
- Being altruistic can be a great way to move through grief. Maybe you would like to volunteer at a homeless shelter or make some things for those you care about.
- Support has been known to be very helpful and so joining a grief or support group either online or in person can be enormously supportive.
More than anything treat yourself with love and kindness during this time. The grief will seem more acute during some times and more subtle during others. May you know deeply, “this too shall pass.”
As always, please share your thoughts, comments, and questions below. Your experiences and additions here provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Photo by Steve Punter, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.
Goldstein, E. (2011). Why Feeling Grief is Good for Us. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 12, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2011/07/why-feeling-grief-is-good-for-us/