3 Ways to Honor Your Grief
“She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.” – George Eliot
At some point in our lives, we will all experience loss. In fact, I’d almost guarantee that it’s already happened to you. Even if you haven’t experienced the death of a loved one, you’ve likely had relationships fall apart, friendships change, and jobs end. Or maybe you’ve navigated big transitions like graduating high school and going to college or moving and beginning life in a new city.
When life transitions, we leave things behind. When a relationship ends, we haven’t just lost a lover or best friend, but we’ve also lost the ability to see dreams and plans come to fruition. We experience the loss of past, present and future—our reality forever shifted into an alternate plane of “after” and “without.”
We grow older and become different people, our new shapes struggling to fit into the mold of who we once were. And we become aware of the fragility and finite nature of life. Grandparents, parents, and sometimes those who die far too soon leave us behind to move forward in life without them.
In the midst of loss, we have the opportunity to grieve. Yes, the opportunity. Some choose to overlook grief, to discount the significance of their loss, or fear that others will do it for them. Some get stuck in their grief, sometimes spending years sitting in the pain of loss without the hope to look forward and move through.
It is through engaging with our loss and inviting grief to be present that we have the power to move through it and continue to live. Not just merely exist, but to live more fully, our lives made more rich through the healing we allow.
So as you sit reading this post, maybe reflecting on the loss you’ve incurred in your own life, I want to ask you…
Have you taken time to honor your grief?
Whether the answer is yes, an adamant no, or a shrug of your shoulders, I want to spend some time today sharing some ways to honor your grief in a way that helps you not just acknowledge and experience your grief, but to move through it in a healthy manner.
1. Make Room for Your Grief
When we allow ourselves to acknowledge our loss, grief will demand space. This can feel scary for some, fearing that allowing grief to fully be present will overwhelm, incapacitate, or trap them forever.
However, whether it has been acknowledged or not, grief is there. It’s there in the little moments when we remember, triggered by a familiar sight, smell, taste. It’s in our bodies, the heaviness we can feel, often without words to explain why.
What if, the next time you remembered what you lost you allowed yourself to sit with the emotion that rises up within you? Grief comes in many forms, and your experience will be unique.
- It’s okay to be angry with the person you lost.
- It’s okay to feel Sad. Numb. Irritated. Overwhelmed.
- It’s okay to feel an intense emotion for a moment,
- It’s okay for the feelings to dissipate just as quickly as they showed up.
- It’s okay for the loss to feel significant for days. weeks. months. years.
When we try to fit our grief into a box, shame can tell us there is something wrong when it doesn’t quite fit. And shame stands in the way of us having the ability to truly access grief.
Give yourself grace to experience grief the way it is asking to be felt in your life. It may feel big for a season, but as you continue to walk through it and give it the room it needs, ever so slowly I believe you’ll find it taking up the right amount of space.
2. Honor Your Memories
In the midst of loss, there can be such a fear that we will forget. Forget the face of a loved one, or happy memories that mingle with the more painful. Or perhaps you would rather not think about it.
A way to honor your grief is to honor the memories associated with who or whatever it is you’ve lost. It may be helpful to take some time to look through old pictures and mementos or to visit a location that holds significance related to your loss.
As a therapist, I often ask individuals who are walking through grief to start a new journal. Within this journal they can process the current emotions and thoughts they are facing. It can also be helpful to use this space to write out the memories that you hope to never forget.
3. Lean in When You Want to Lean Out
Perhaps the most important way you can honor your grief is by letting others in. Grief can encourage isolation. In the deepest times of sadness perhaps the last thing you want is to spend time with others. However, often what we want and what we need can stand at odds with one another.
When you are feeling the pain of your sadness, let a safe person know about it. Whether you sit and talk about the loss, allow yourself to just cry with someone you trustq or spend time doing something you love with a person you love by your side. Choosing to engage in relationships can bring healing to those parts of you that feel the emptiest in the wake of loss.
If you’re walking through a loss, I want you to know that you aren’t alone, and you weren’t meant to carry it in silence. If you feel like you could use some extra support, we would love to help you