Grief…. It is a word that we all mostly associate with pain and suffering, due to the loss of someone we loved. Grief has the tendency to leave us feeling like there is a hole where once the one we loved filled that with joy, love, and laughter. Grief can be heavy and feel that the whole weight of the world is on our shoulders. Sometimes, though, grief can also feel like a big sigh of relief. A relief because the one who passed caused us pain and discomfort, or the one lost was in physical pain. With grief, it is important that you allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up.
Grief has a cycle, and in that cycle there are five stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Not everyone will experience all of these stages, and the order of the stages depends on the person who is grieving. There are many emotions that come along with the stages of grief.
Grief can cause us to feel Alone, even when this might be a time where everyone is reaching out to offer love and support. Grief has the tendency to make us feel lost, and wonder how to keep moving forward when there is a hole left to be filled, but the idea of filling it without the one we lost is unimaginable. When the feelings of being alone come up, take the time to acknowledge how you body feels, what your brain and heart are telling you to do, and do your best to lean on your support system. Allow yourself to reflect on memories made with the one that you lost, and if needed have a good cry.
Grief can cause us to feel immense Sadness. Sadness is a feeling that can range in size, and affects everyone differently. I encourage you to feel the full weight of the sadness. Allow yourself time to process the sadness. Write about, talk about, draw about it, and maybe even join a support group to fully process the weight of the sadness.
Grief can cause us to feel Anger. The anger that can be felt is sometimes directed towards others around us, because we feel there are no other ways to express how we feel. Sometimes the anger comes with questioning a higher power of why our loved one had to pass right now, and why it could not have happened to someone else. That anger can build and caused us to partake in behaviors we had not before, and we might feel even more angry that that others are trying to tell us how to behave. Feeling angry is okay, and a very real feeling of grief. When anger arises, try and allow yourself to feel the anger, and I encourage you to find safe and healthy ways to release the anger, such as exercising, ripping paper, screaming into a pillow, or even crying.
And then, amongst all the heavy, and sometimes negative feelings, Grief can also cause us Happiness/Acceptance. I know what some are thinking, how can grief be a happy time, and how can we ever get to a place of accepting our loved one is gone? Yes, with grief comes missing someone we loved, but we can also find happiness and acceptance in knowing that maybe the one we lost is no longer suffering if they were experiencing physical pain. It can also cause happiness by remembering the wonderful life that person lived, and having the ability to see their legacy continue to live on. By accepting that our loved one is gone, this allows us to move forward, while still always remembering our loved one in our hearts, but now feeling that the grief is light enough that we can find the motivation to live our lives without them being physically by our side each day.
Grief lasts a lifetime, and the journey of grief looks different for all that experience it. The important thing to remember is to allow your heart time to heal, and feel all the emotions that come along with grief. Know you are not alone in this journey, and that it is okay to not be okay when you lose someone you love! Take it day by day, and make sure that healing is done on your time; this is your journey.