I’ve been putting off writing this article for weeks now. I knew I wanted to do it; I write from a feelings space, and I didn’t want to feel the enormity of my grief.
Some days I feel as if my whole life has been about holding grief, feeling grief, resolving grief, whether it be something that has happened in the Now, whether its been grief from my past, or even unresolved grief from my ancestors.
Not Allowed To Feel Grief
I think the western culture doesn’t *do* grief well. We value productivity over feelings. We manage our feelings, not feel them.
I looked up on the NZ Government website how long paid bereavement leave is, and its 1 day for someone unrelated, and 3 days for a close relative. I don’t even imagine that would even see you through to the funeral.
Types of Grief
We can have all kinds of grief, the obvious biggies are when someone we love dies, or a beloved pet; a divorce, moving house, jobs, natural disaster; but we can have grief for many other things too, like a missed opportunity, the state of the world, your life not turning out how you had hoped it would. You can even have daily grief; the day not going as you had planned.
Grief mounts up if you don’t take space to mourn your loss. Grief can only be put aside for so long and then it pushes to be acknowledged. Unmourned grief will show itself in illnesses, addictions, depression and anxiety.
We get scared of grief, we think it will overwhelm us if we face it. That it will go on forever. We can think we are crying over spilled milk or are being indulgent. We can go into our heads and think our way out of it, rationalising it, telling ourselves to be happy. But we run the risk of shutting down our heart if we sidestep grief.
What if it’s OK to be sad? To honour being sad, to allow space to be sad. To keep our heart open and feel the loss. Even if its bit by bit. As much as we think we can handle.
Grief lets us know that something mattered to us. That something was important. That we Loved. That we were connected.
If we take the time to feel the grief, then it will lighten.
I don’t think grief can be processed away, through a technique, I think if we are stuck its probably because we aren’t feeling the grief, so healing tools are good to get us back into the flow. But we can be grieving something even 10 years later, bit by bit, depending on how we faced grief along the way. I don’t think grief can be rushed through so we can be over it.
I’ve also heard about professional mourners. People you can hire to go to funerals and start people off wailing and crying.
Empaths and Grief
If you’re an empath you can be feeling other peoples grief, alive or deceased, so that’s something I always have to check for when I’m feeling grief. Whether its mine or not. But I have to also be mindful if I’m wanting to avoid my grief and want it to be someone else’s. If it is someone else’s grief I will feel the shift in my body when I ask.
This weekend in NZ is ANZAC day, honouring the soldiers who fought in the wars, this is always a day that Ive felt very strongly as an empath. Its always been a sad day for me. Perhaps a nationally recognised day to grieve; to honour and remember.
As I wrote last week my oldest friend passed away a week ago. It was very surreal, as she and I had daily contact for 26 years. I can see the stages of grief in myself, the shock, denial, anger, depression, acceptance. But they are scrambled and all over the place. The little things will get me, something will happen and I will go to my phone or laptop to tell her and then I realise.
Of course the mourning isn’t for her, she has moved on with her journey, the mourning is for myself, because I miss my friend, and I want the future to look like the past. I don’t know what the future holds and I don’t like feeling that empty space there. So I mourn her loss in my life. I can mourn what I think she will miss out on in this lifetime, but I don’t know her future or what is in store to compare whether she is missing out.
I also think there’s a difference between grief and suffering. We can have survivor guilt if someone we love has died, thinking we should grieve for a certain amount of time, or not be happy because they are not here. This is mostly unconscious behaviour.
We can sabotage ourselves by thinking they didn’t live so we can’t enjoy our life, or swing to the opposite thinking they didn’t live so we have to live for them and exhaust ourselves by living for two people, not allowing ourselves to be still.
Or we went through a divorce and told ourselves that person really didn’t matter to us. Or we lost a *thing*, or something broke and we tell ourselves its materialistic to be sad over the loss of a thing. But even material things matter to us. Our heart feels the loss even if our heads minimise it’s importance.
The Body Can Be a Doorway To Unresolved Grief
Unresolved grief pushes to be felt.
Something you might like to try, is to be aware of your breathing, and slow it down, then ask your body if there is anywhere it is holding grief that you haven’t felt. If nothing pops up you can feel into your heart, and ask your heart the same question.
How do you feel about honouring your Grief?