Sitting With Grief
Updated: Mar 10, 2021
At some point, everyone will experience loss during their lifetime. Some will experience loss at a younger age than others. Circumstances surrounding loss will differ and will impact the degree to which one grieves. No matter the age or events leading to loss, the gap created by the absence of someone or something special is unfillable. It is an emptiness for which there is no formula to avoid or lessen. Grief isn’t conveniently structured, nor is it predictable. It is ugly, and nonlinear. It follows no particular path. It does, however, leave a lingering void which can set in and swallow everything including the identity of the one experiencing the grief. It can rob one of life. Even though the journey of grief is different for everyone, the experience can manifest in similar ways. Therefore, there are practical and intentional things one can do which can provide a pathway of relief and lead to clearer understanding of how they need to process their loss. Learning how to sit with the grief is one such path along the grief journey. It is a difficult path, but one which can lead to a new tomorrow.
Sitting with the grief requires one learn to sit in the uncomfortable and allow space and quiet speak to the nature of grief and life-changes surrounding the loss. When everything inside is saying “run”, learn to sit and allow pain to do its work. There is much to be learned and gained through the process of sitting with grief. The loss will not go away. The pain will never go away. The loss is real, and the pain is real. That will never change because permanent separation is painful and life-altering. Love and memories don’t disappear with the loss. If someone or something truly mattered, that will not change after loss. However, what will change is perspective around the grief. But gaining a healthy perspective is necessary and difficult and requires much soul work. This is what I believe to be the first step along the path to recovery and moving forward beyond grief.
But how does one gain a healthy perspective on losing someone or something dear? How does one fight through the pain and avoid becoming stuck in sorrow? Following are a few suggestions which can provide focus and intention in sitting with the internal work of grief and processing bereavement through the outward expression of mourning:
Allow grief to become a gateway to expressing emotions in a particular way which is important to the bereaved. Outlets such as writing, creative arts, or cooking can be therapeutic. Whether it be journaling, writing music or poetry or cooking a dish with a special memory attached to the loss; use imagination to invite individual talent into the journey of grief processing.
Allow a way of physical release of pain. Pent up sorrow can manifest itself in not only emotional pain, but also physical pain. Providing a way of physical release is cleansing to both body and mind. It provides clarity to emotional perspective. It can also assist with sorting out contrasting emotions related to grief. Ways to accomplish this might be taking a kick-boxing class, train for a marathon or triathlon, take swimming or cross-training class. Get creative and entertain the idea of doing something new to release energy.
Allow others into the pain by allowing trusted ones to witness the outward intensity of mourning, and the magnitude of loss while being fully present. In this way the bereaved can feel their pain is acknowledged by others. It can create a way in which the one grieving can know their grief is not minimized or sanitized. It can also provide a way of escape from the isolation surrounding grief by providing an opportunity for others to mirror grief. This is an acknowledgement that their loss matters.
Allow the internal work of grief to take its course. It is a journey and a process. Grief does not have specific dimensions and it does not have a prescribed end. So, learning to acknowledge and accept the cacophony of emotional noise as natural reactions and are part of the coping mechanism which will eventually help make sense of the loss and how life will be forever affected.
Finally, allow yourself to be vulnerable...with yourself. This will help regain emotional and mental balance. This leads to strength and renewed self-awareness. Even though no sense may ever be made of loss, honesty about the finality and reality of loss and how it is impacting life moving forward will become clearer. It is at this point you can begin to address honestly what you want from your life moving forward.
Loss never goes away. The world before loss will never be the same. But learning to sit with the grief will lessen as the loss begins to fit into the tomorrow. It grows smaller. As one grows stronger, their grief will not grow into their new world. Their world will grow around their grief as their world grows larger. The outward expression of mourning goes away, and a new morning dawns with new hope. The journey continues with a new perspective on life and gratitude for the memories held dear. But the journey to such a place begins with Sitting with the Grief. It begins with taking the difficult path which leads to the new tomorrow.