When one of our loved one’s passes away, our grief can take many forms. For some it is paralyzing, for others, it is completely internalized. There aren’t many people on the planet that would judge a person harshly for their grief in the weeks following a family member or a friend’s death. However, as weeks and months pass, a person in mourning may find that there are expectations for them to start “moving on” and overcoming their grief. This added pressure can make a person begin to feel as though there is something wrong with them if they don’t begin to change and overcome their grief and it often has the opposite effect. The person slips deeper into a state of grieving and depression.
The first sentence of this post clearly states that grief is different for everyone and it’s true, so there is no reason you or any of your friends or family should ever feel compelled to conform to what your peers deem an appropriate time to mourn. One of the keys to healthy change is acceptance and learning to live with the emotions that you are having in each moment. So how can you accept your grief so that it becomes part of the healing process, rather than avoiding it and allowing it to damage yourself and others?
Sit with your emotions. One of the hardest things you can do is to acknowledge all of the emotions that you are feeling when you confront your grief. The only thing harder is just “being” with those emotions and not doing anything to avoid or fix them. More often than not, your mind and body will have the visceral reactions to grief and sadness that are right for you. It’s our own beliefs and experiences that try to change how we react to pain and sadness. Just let your body and mind feel what it needs to feel in order to begin healing.
Practice compassion towards yourself. So often, when we’re depressed, we become our own worst critic. Every little mistake becomes a huge failure and then we start feeling even worse than we did before. Give yourself a break! You are not at your best right now and that’s perfectly understandable. Take some time to do things that renew you and give you energy. When you’re grieving, it’s very important to practice daily kindness towards yourself.
Learn to say, “It’s OK.” The biggest part of acceptance is simply saying, “It’s OK.” You would be surprised what changes in your psyche when you give yourself a break by saying two little words. And don’t say it internally. Say it out loud. When you feel as though there is more you should be doing but you simply can’t, just stop, breathe and say, “It’s OK.” Soon enough you’ll actually start believing it.
Of course, there is the very real chance that your grief can turn into something destructive, and if you feel that you have reached a point where you can’t recover on your own, then it’s important to seek help from a professional, whether this is a therapist or a spiritual advisor.