Well today’s post is going to be super short and semi sweet. Well I don’t know about the sweet part but I liked the sound of all the s’s together. It will also be full of ‘tense hopping’ because I can’t seem to figure out if loss is past or present and if grief is present or future. And I can’t tell if I’m talking to you or myself or to all of us so there’s also the misuse of prepositions, I’m sure.
Transitioning back into the blog-o-sphere after losing a treasured family member is hard. Where do you start? What topics do you indulge in? Do you pick up where you left off? I really don’t know. All I know is that grief is hard. The ripple effect that one person’s transition into the next realm has on all those around you and them is… huge. And how that grief impacts everyone around them is… complicated.
It is true that I process events through writing, but death is not the kind of thing I am interested in processing online. Balancing truth telling and exploiting pain is a line I’m not sure how- or if I should even try- to teeter totter. I guess we will see what happens as time marches on but for now they do make journals and that’s where I plan to keep my words that all the complexities of loss are bringing to the surface.
I do want to focus today’s post on mental health and grief. A love letter- if you will- for all those going through the fire and wondering where in the hell their extinguisher went. I want to offer a reminder of what coping mechanisms can look like and how they can serve you in times of utter sorrow and complete sadness.
I am finding that it is important to remember that in the midst of grief and loss, you still matter. In fact, I dare say you matter more now than before everything changed. Because when everything changed, you changed. And now you have to reconcile what that means without getting lost in the flames (since we are using a whole fire metaphor). Now is the time to utilize every single coping mechanism you have spent so much time and energy cultivating and curating.
So without further ado…
Meditate. Or pray. Whatever you want to call it. You are going to have to feel your feelings. You can’t go around them or over them or under them. Only through them. Grief isn’t going anywhere and if you try to push it deep down into the nothingness well it’ll just pop up and out unexpectedly and usually at the worst possible time. And it’ll consume you. So, tap into your spiritual self and explore whatever comes up…without judgement.
Move. I think that grief and loss have the luring potential to keep us frozen in the space between then and now. it’s easier to disappear into the darkness than it is to look for beacons of hope. I do think one thing can offer both hope and movement and that is nature. Go outside. Take a walk. Pull out that yoga mat because, for the record, I still maintain yoga is a cure all for all the feels. In the words of my fave yogi, find what feels good, move with the breath, and observe.
Journal. I know that not everyone likes to journal. In fact, I do receive a lot of push back from this suggestion. But let me tell you the freedom in just letting your mind go. The full body release that occurs when you allow yourself to think all the thoughts and then let those reflections flow through your frantic hand and allow yourself to jot it all down. Without judgement. There is no wrong way to journal so grant yourself the permission to express whatever comes up.
Distract. And when you need a breather from your feelings, because there will be times when you can’t sit in the anguish, distract yourself. Turn on a funny movie or binge watch your favorite television show. One that lacks suspense or surprise. Like, as much as I love This Is Us it is nothing short of an emotional roller coaster so maybe don’t catch up on that one just yet. Unless you need a really good crying sesh, then go for it.
Therapy, If you have a counselor, call that counselor. Make an appointment. Like now. Because they can give you all the personalized tools for your metaphorical tool box to help you find your way back to being okay with finding joy.
It is hard to know when it is okay to laugh again or when you have permission to find clusters of joy in the chaos. It feels like a betrayal to those who you are grieving and to all those grieving around you to allow the world to continue moving on. I don’t have the answers on how to reconcile that but, over the last week, I have received lots of little nuggets of wisdom on this topic. I think my favorite is- and I’m paraphrasing here- if loss teaches us anything, it is that we should celebrate everything.
I don’t think that there is a right way to feel your feelings, I just think allowing yourself to feel is right. And don’t judge the emotions that come up. Let them pass through you with recognition and grace.
To all those who are grieving: I will sit with you in it. I won’t rush you through it and I won’t judge you for it. And while I don’t think it will ever get easier, I think it will get lighter. Especially if we carry it together.