Every time I lose someone, I am faced – once again – with wondering how to deal with grieving. Today, I’m grieving the loss of a dog. My dog. My best friend. Two years ago, I was grieving the loss of a dear soul who took his own life. A few years before that, I was grieving the loss of my father. On and on it goes. I bet you’re in a similar boat.
You’d think by the tenth or fifteenth time we stare death in its face, we’d just magically feel more at peace with it. We lose friends, family members, and beloved pets, and yet, every time, it hurts so bad.
One day they’re here, and then they’re gone. We feel a hollowness inside, an aching of the heart, a longing to experience their voice or touch or smile just once more.
The If Only’s
The “If only’s” compound the pain.
If only I had one more chance to hug them.
If only I had tried harder to save them.
If only I had known it was to be the last time I’d see them.
If only I knew what happened to us after we die.
If only it didn’t hurt so much.
Have you lost someone and felt all of these emotions, too? If so, you are so not alone. Though I wish I could say there is a secret tactic to being pain-free when grieving a loved one, I can’t. I can, however, offer you a few tips that can make it hurt a little less.
Start By Knowing What’s Real
When we pause to stop catastrophizing and start thinking rationally, we can handle the stress of losing a loved one far better. Realize that …
💮 All things, even emotions, are temporary. This means that the depth of your pain will lessen, the worst of the grief will pass, and there will be a time when it won’t hurt like this.
💮 The love you felt, that they felt, and that you still feel is at the core of what connects us. And love never dies. You still hold that love inside of you, as do they.
💮 You are not your body or your physical senses. You are energy. And energy never dies – it only changes forms. Likewise, your loved one was not their body or their physical senses.
They were energy, and the energy that made them who they were, still exists.
5 Steps To Deal With Grieving
Once you realize the facts above, it’s time to take action.
- FEEL. Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel. There are seven stages of grief (shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, and acceptance), and it is natural and important to go through each one at our own pace.
- RELAX. Practice radical self-care. When you’re grieving, you’re under a great deal of stress. Your sympathetic nervous system is on full tilt, and stress hormones are coursing through your body. You can combat this extra anxiety and stress by treating yourself to healthy habits that soothe you, like a warm bubble bath, reading a good book, listening to music, working out, practicing Yoga, or taking a day off from work and chores. What is something you enjoy doing that would help you relax?
- VENT. Whether it’s through journaling, talking to a friend, working with a life coach, or seeing a therapist, let it all out. Let out the feelings, the memories, the tears. When we let it out, we create space to heal.
- HONOR THEM. When you’re ready, spend some time and energy honoring your loved one. Write them letters. Build a shrine. Create a photo collage. Donate to or volunteer at a non-profit that would honor their memory. Plant a garden, a perennial, or a tree in their honor. Paint a portrait of them. Whatever method resonates with you, honoring your loved one will help you feel some peace and acceptance.
- CONNECT to something greater than yourself. It doesn’t matter what religion you are, or if you’re an atheist. Spending time contemplating the miraculousness of life, of temporariness, of all the possibilities of life after death, can help you to feel less alone and realize there is more to life and death than just what we see. If you believe in prayer, pray more now. If you practice a religion, visit your place of worship more now. If you have no religion, watch videos or read books about near-death-experiences. Connecting to a higher power or to the fact that death is not the end, can help you feel less pain as you grieve.
There Will Be Peace
I know it hurts. I know it feels awful. I know it can be confusing and maddening. But I also know that there can and will be peace if you learn how to deal with grieving in the healthiest ways possible.
If you are in grief and would like extra support at this time, I invite you learn about my grief coaching, HERE.