The last year or so have been trying times for nearly every person I know. Most people I speak to have been grieving in one way or another. Many people mistakenly feel grief is only associated with the death of someone close. Yes, that is definitely one type of grief. But there are numerous ways in which people I love have been feeling grief, over the last twelve months particularly.
I know people who are grieving communication. They have lost touch with friends or family. I know people grieving touch itself, as they live alone and have not been hugged for over a year. Most people are grieving socialisation, and just being in the presence of others. The breakdown of a marriage or a relationship is a form of grief. The loss of a loved pet can be more painful to some than the loss of certain people in their lives. Losing your business, your home, or even watching a future you had planned crumbling away, can all trigger types of grieving.
If we have experienced previous unresolved griefs in our lives, any current grieving can easily be intensified by the legacy of grief we carry with us. If we have pushed away, buried or ignored a particular grief in the past, it can be re-awakened and added to whatever grieving process we may be going through right now. At times this can feel unbearable and like the pain will never go away. But by learning to make space for it, and allowing it to be there, we can begin to accept the changes and lessen the pain. A very wise man once said to me that by accompanying and investigating our grief, we can liberate it.
Accompanying and investigating your grief means to sit with it and tune into it. Do not distract yourself by turning on the television, or heading to Facebook the minute the sadness rises. Instead, stay with it, sit with it and really feel it. Feel it in the body. How is it physically, here and now? For some, it may be an emptiness in the stomach. For others intense burning behind the eyes as the tears stream. You may feel hot, heavy, tired. All of these are natural and normal physical responses to grief. But by accompanying them you will have a deeper understanding of what that pain feels like. And a deeper understanding of your own pain will lead to a greater understanding of others, which in turn leads to compassion. An emotion sadly lacking nearly everywhere I look these days.
Not allowing ourselves to feel the grief is shutting out part of who we are because it is too painful. It is liberating to open up and be part of the whole experience. Grief is just a part of our experience, even when it feels intense, but it is never the whole. Tears are not a sign you are not liberating yourself from grief. In fact, they mean the opposite. Let them flow. This is the good grief I was talking about. There can be freedom and libration in crying, as it means we are not pushing away the grief. If we do this as often as we can bear while we are grieving, when further griefs come, which they will, we will have the tools to go through the process next time with greater ease. And without adding suffering.
How do you know when grief has been liberated even when it’s still present? When it is freed, there is a willingness to grieve and a total acceptance of the accompanying pain. You will feel cared for and safe again. Alongside the sorrow, you will at times feel joy. You will feel lighter and at peace. You start to see things differently after a while. For example, you will be reminded of the love you felt for whoever or whatever you may be grieving, not just the pain. You will feel connected again. All of this will come if you do as my wise friend says and accompany and investigate your feelings. No matter how scary or painful that might seem. I have tried this myself over the years and it works. Take it from little old me.