midlife, personal growth

How to Manage Grief and Loss

Image of scrabble tiles spelling the word Grief for How to Manage Grief and Loss page

The grief and loss you feel when you lose someone you love is life-altering.

Still, within days, it feels like everyone around you is ignoring your loss and thinks you should just get over it.

Death is routine and also devasting, It will touch every one of us at some point. Yet the subject of grief and loss remains uncomfortable for most of us and therefore neglected or entirely avoided.

This general unwillingness to talk about death and loss makes it harder for us to move through the grieving process feeling cared for and supported.

Like nothing ever happened (but it did).

If you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one, you know that while you are in shock and pain, and life feels surreal, everything around you seems to go on as usual – like nothing ever happened.

The sun rises, people get up, they get dressed and they go about their day. Kids get on the bus for school. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are eaten. Laundry goes in the washing machine. Traffic piles up at rush hour.

And we too, get back on track quickly and go about the routine of our regular days… even though we feel anything but regular.

I remember the day after my father died. I was driving down to my mom’s house to make funeral arrangements. I vividly remember looking at the people driving in their cars next to me on the road, wondering where they were going. To work, to school, out shopping?

It felt so weird and wrong that while they were carrying on their usual daily routines, I was on my way to pick out a casket.

How could they so casually go about their day while something so life-altering had happened to me? How dare the sun be shining so brightly and beautifully when it was one of the worst days of my life?

But that’s the way it is.

Death is a part of life, and no matter how devasting it may be personally, the world around us keeps on turning and the music of life doesn’t miss a single beat.

And so, it’s up to us individually to feel, grieve, cope, heal, learn, process, and love ourselves enough to do whatever we need to, at our own pace, to help ourselves keep moving too.

Here are some ways to help manage and move through the grief and loss you are feeling.

Say how you feel.

We feel torn apart. In emotional agony. In silent pain. Our minds go over the loss repeatedly. Sometimes we continue our busy lives and don’t even get a chance to cry.

There doesn’t seem to be any time or space for grief in our lives. And society generally expects us to rather quickly get over it. Case in point: what’s the typical bereavement leave from work? Three days?!

Many times, our family and friends (although meaning well) move on too quickly from checking on us. Maybe because they can’t or don’t want to enter that painful space with us, or because they feel it will open our healing wound.

It’s seems hurtful to bring up a friend’s recent loss. We want to hope they are past it. But they never are.

Loss and pain are never far from the surface after recently losing a loved one.

Expression always helps, even if it brings on fresh tears and fears.

It’s like when you have a bad dream. If you tell someone about it, or even write it down and rip it up, the expression of the visions and the experience (whether it was real or a dream) helps with processing the hard and frightening emotions.

Push yourself to express how you are feeling. It helps you and it helps those you choose to share with. They too have been or will be in a similar position one day.

Be tender with yourself.

There may be others around you who have gone through the same loss, but your relationship with the person you lost is uniquely yours.

“So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love.” – Queen Elizabeth II

No one else can feel and clearly see the memories you have with that person in the way that you can. It’s normal to feel alone, but you aren’t.

Remember that you are experiencing the loss in the middle of a world of other beings around you who have or will experience the same deep loss at some point.

Loss and pain are part of a positive life.

Yep, you read that correctly. They are a part of a positive life because loss and pain of grief are a part of everyone’s life.

It’s a natural piece of the journey for every one of us. Whether you have labeled yourself a positive person, a realist, a negative person – it doesn’t matter… death is not choosy and eventually comes around to touch each of us.

“You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, On Grief and Grieving

Living a positive life doesn’t mean ignoring your feelings or slapping on a smile when you feel awful.

It means being present. Living a positive life amidst loss and grief means bringing awareness to your emotions, your healing, your thoughts, to what you intuitively need at any moment, to your self-care.

It means learning to exercise the habit of mindfulness.

A mindful awareness of the present moment and how you feel. Learning to see the separation between what you are experiencing, and the bigger picture, is healing.

Becoming aware of how and why you feel what you feel – good or bad – and helping yourself process the emotions (to eventually move yourself forward) is critical to living life fully.

Being present for yourself is a learned habit – one you should exercise daily – and integral to having a positive mindset.

Positive mindset skills include learning how to give yourself the space and support you need to remove emotional blocks surrounding loss like guilt, fear and regret; working your way through the pain and loss; taking the time you need to heal and eventually coaxing yourself out of the grief and back to joy.

Living a positive life means being open, like wide-open, to discovering, welcoming and tapping into whatever ways we can to heal ourselves. No one else is going to do this for you. Grieving and healing is a personal and often private, self-care process.

Allowing yourself more time to manage and move through grief than someone else thinks you should need is a part of loving yourself.

And it’s never too late to learn how to love yourself.

Cheers to being open to learning how to love and care for ourselves better; and to unapologetically claiming whatever time, space, attention, self-expression, support and healing methods we uniquely need to manage our grief and loss.

You are not alone. – Marlene

 

 


Cheers to Chapter Two Mindfulness Challenge

For those of you looking to explore how to build healthier mindset habits to serve you better in 2020 – join me for my upcoming 5 Day Free Mindfulness Challenge beginning Monday, January 20, 2020. Explore what mindful means and how building a mindfulness habit can transform how you feel and how you approach life (and your 2020 goals).
Click here for sign up & more details.

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