My last blog post was two months ago. Two. This is not to say I don’t have three half-written blogs on my hard drive. I do. And a running list of ideas that I’m excited and eager to share with you. My brain is constantly spinning with all the ways I want to help and educate people. But I’ve been stuck.
We talk a lot in therapy about grieving. Grief is not just about death and dying. Grief and loss encompass so much more. Loss of identity. Homesickness. Mourning what was or what should have been. You can grieve things or people that never were. Perhaps they died for you, but only in your soul. Grief can be starting over. It can be a cozy sweater that becomes armor. Grief is a postcard tucked in a drawer. It can be you doing the very hard task of setting boundaries in your life. Grief can be painful, as well as beautiful, as well as freeing. But grief can also be a cage if and when some of the feelings get the better of you.
The grieving process looks differently for everyone. Anger, hopelessness, crying. Struggles to concentrate, to be creative. As a therapist, the model of grief that resonated with me the most is not the typical Five Stages as it felt too linear. The model with grief being a spiral really exemplifies how some days progress is felt and other days you eat all of your childrens’ Reeses Eggs. (No judgment.) It offers some solace to the question, “why am I not over this yet?” The denial stage may come and go. Rage may spill over. Attention issues and confusion may haunt your workdays. This is completely normal.
First off, for those of you who haven’t written a blog post in two months, the first step is to give yourself grace. This isn’t as much a religious idea so much as acknowledging and honoring your feelings. Try not to judge yourself for your experience. Some people are criers. Some are screamers. Some fold in on themselves and become quiet and pensive. All are okay.
For those who have lost someone, I offer the suggestion to look to ritual, tradition, and what the departed enjoyed doing. If they enjoyed kicking a couple cold ones back? Cheers. Fishing? Awesome. If your best memories of them was sitting quietly with a cup of coffee, do that for yourself and for them. When I gave this talk back in November to a group, their lost friend had big, booming laughter. For that person, humor was how they coped.
It’s important to accept help. Particularly if your grief lands you in the realm of being overwhelmed, or foggy, or struggling with attention. It is a wonderful thing when people choose to lean in. Choose to accept that help. You deserve time to heal.
Go on with life. Routine and normalcy can offer structure to your life when everything else feels like its out of control. Your 9-5 can ground you. Sunday dinners can preserve you. Second Tuesday calls with your business coach can keep things moving.
Add some creativity. Go dancing. Write. Color. Build something.
Move your body. Release anger through running, punching, tossing hay bales. Ground yourself through yoga. Feel joy (yes, joy) in dance, cycling, hiking. Do what feels right.
Give yourself a break. In the beginning, grief may be the default and feel constant. When the “normal stuff” starts creeping back in it can feel like a betrayal. You deserve to have happy moments just as much as you deserve to grieve. And, if your grief is due to loss of a loved one, they would really want that for you.
If we continue to consider grief as a spiral, it could be another two months before I get a post out. Or it could be awhile before you hear that song without crying. It may be that you need to make a few more lists than usual to keep track of your life. Maybe a friend checks on you to make sure you’ve eaten a vegetable in the last week. But remember, spirals have a smaller point. Those feelings may come around again. It may not be as frequent. It may feel as intense. We’re here if it feels too much like you’re going in the same circles, but you’re doing a great job. Hang in there.