Good Grief

By Sarah Petty L. Ac., Dipl. Ac. on September 26th, 2012

Hello everyone!

How is the Fall treating you? Are you able to breathe more deeply? Do you feel a shift in your body from the Summer to the Fall? Are you slowing down a little? Are you reflecting more?

Today’s topic is going to flesh out grief a little. Grief is an emotional response to a loss of any kind. Most commonly it is thought of as a loss of a loved one or pet. It can also be felt by a loss of limb, or any other body part or function, divorce, a break-up, a job, etc. It is common that people will tell me there was no time to grieve their loss. Some will say they had to table their grief to take care of others. Some of us may just find it challenging to go there. Explore in yourselves any stories you have about grief. Are any of them negative? I find this culture to be uncomfortable around anger and grief, which can sometimes go hand in hand. Let’s look at some common negative stories or misconceptions about grief:

If I cry, I am weak… I have to be strong for my family…

Feeling sad, angry and scared is a normal response to a loss. Tears are just a natural expression for some. Showing up authentically, however that appears, will serve you and your family and friends 1) by honoring yourself and where you are and not creating any stagnation by stuffing down any feelings, and 2) by showing up and showing them healthy ways of moving through grief without shame.

“To weep is to make less the depth of grief.”
William Shakespeare

“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.”
― Jose N. Harris, MI VIDA

Time heals all wounds… If I ignore it, it will go away…

Ignoring the pain, the grief, whatever emotions come up, will only stow them away for a later day where they either come up as emotion or worse, as a physical ailment. Also, the energy you use to ignore and stuff your grief will most likely take away from other aspects of your life. You may feel numb, distant, detached, not quite your full self.

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”
― John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

Grief is heavy and I don’t want to burden anyone with what I am going through…

Actually, when you are reaching out for help, you are giving someone the opportunity to feel useful, needed, important, caring and appreciated. It is up to anyone who stands up to be there for someone to draw their own boundaries. There are people who tend to ‘not want to burden’ their friends and family and they end up isolating themselves and feeling worse. Those people are generally people who wouldn’t hesitate to support their loved ones. Everyone benefits from love and support, so do not cut off your nose to spite your face. Swallow your pride or guilt or worry and ask for what you need and be receptive to how your community scoops you up in your time of need.

I don’t have time for this right now…

Honestly, what is more pressing than acknowledging a loss in your life that has you forever changed? Honoring what you’ve lost and at the same time honoring your body and giving it the time and space it needs to adjust to the change has to rank pretty high on the list of priorities. Life shows up as it will. It can feel disruptive if we cling to our own timelines and plans and while we’re still trying to fit life into a mold we created, it is still going on around us. How present are we to it? How present do we want to be to it? What price do we pay if we are not (see the second bullet point).

I am sure there are many other reactions that may not serve us in the movement of our grief. Take a moment and reflect. Is there and feeling of loss, sadness or grief that you’ve held onto? Explore that for a few minutes. Is there still some acknowledgement that would serve before you let it go?

I am mainly focusing on those who have trouble expressing grief. I do acknowledge those who have trouble letting go of their grief. It is important to know you can let go of the grief without letting go of the love and of the person you are grieving. Turning grief into appreciation can be a very healing thing. Putting your focus on the love and good memories rather than the loss. Of course, this all is easier said than done, but the process towards success starts with your intention.

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
-Mary Elizabeth Frye

So, I hope I’ve given you something to reflect upon. Open up your senses to the Fall. Get in touch with your physical body. Spread your consciousness past your head and your mind and even past your everyday aches and pains. Spend some time with your lungs. How is your breathing? Spend some time with your heart. Does it feel tight or constricted? Spend some time in a space in your body you rarely explore. Spend some time in quiet reflection. If you find some emotions come up, welcome them and then let them go. Feel yourself getting lighter and lighter until all you are is light itself.

Until next week, Be Well.

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