The grieving process is an enigma. For some, it seems to pass quickly after the initial shock wears off. For others, it can take forever, or so it seems. The journey depends on how you choose to progress through the phases—and these are tough choices.
What I know for sure is the loss of a loved one leaves a crater in your heart that is impossible to fill, and it takes time for the edges of the hollow to soften, so you can begin to create a new normal.
There is no ‘getting over it,’ as though there is some closure at the end. Most people just get through it. And, if you are paying attention along the way, you may discover the gems sprinkled on your path.
I love how Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D., describes the benefits of the grieving process. She says, “Grieving is like polishing rare stones. The process of going over and over the memories creates a rare and beautiful jewel, the true beauty of which had not been previously realized. There are lessons here for the life you are living now.”
Case in point. As I met every person who attended my brother’s wake, I got to hear stories that made my grieving face smile. I had no idea how loved by others my brother was. Listening to their tales of mischief and tomfoolery, I gained a new appreciation for my brother. I saw him through the eyes of his friends—it was a gem of a gift to me. These memories from this sad day are the ones I polish in my mind.
As you move through your grieving process, you may notice gems of your own. Perhaps this list will help you to think about your grief differently.
Gems Found In The Grieving Process
Consider how each might play a role in helping you get through your grieving process. These ideas will lift you and lighten your load if you let them. Once you pick one to try, adapt it to your circumstance so you can test how it works for you. Then, act on it and see how you feel. If it works, try another one—if it doesn’t, try another one.
1—Learn something new about your loved one so you can appreciate them in a novel way.
2—Reach out to other people who share your loss. Talking about it can ease the pain and shift the burden from your shoulders alone.
3—As you share with others, objectively notice how people grieve differently, and for different lengths of time. Grow an appreciation for the difference, without any judgment for what is right or wrong.
4—Find your way to a place of acceptance. There are many things in life beyond your control. Letting go of the notion that you have to take charge will diminish the drain on your energy.
5—Put your faith in the adage; what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. The truth is, the more adversity you face, the more resilient you become.
6—Stop sweating the small stuff, or making mountains out of molehills. There are plenty of big decisions to occupy your thoughts. Focus on those.
7—Look back and cherish the memories. Rather than wallow in what you’ve lost, shift your thoughts to what you gained.
8—Wisdom is your friend. What lessons have you learned? Use them.
9—When you are mired in your grieving process, focus on gratitude instead. Replace the feelings of loss, despair, panic, or anxiety with gratefulness. Your brain can’t feel both things at once. Choose gratitude.
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Moving Through Your Grief
Some of these gems may fit like a glove, while others seem far-fetched. Still, others may feel impossible in your current state of mind.
When you are ready, you’ll know that it’s time to answer tough questions, such as Who am I now that things have changed? And, What comes next for me?
You will discover that you are seeking a new balance in your life. Think of it as finding harmony again. Stay in the present moment, so you don’t miss any new memories but look back just long enough to see how far you’ve come.
Feel how you’ve grown. Then, decide when you’re ready to move forward. It helps to embrace the change that has taken place and welcome the transition to a new chapter.
These steps are gradual and depend on how you face loss and grief. Some may work for you better than others. Many may require you to reach out for help to figure out how best to adapt and apply them in your life. Don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need.
I’ll leave you with this thought from Haruki Murakami:
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over.
But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm is all about.”
The First Step
If you feel stuck in the grieving process and living with uncertainty about how to move through it, you may wonder if it’s even possible. Making choices that shift your thinking can be hard, and getting some guidance may be just what you need. Start by exploring how change can impact you? And learn how to move through it with more dignity and grace by reading my free ebook, then let’s have a chat. Click here to take the first step: From Darkness to Light: Learning to Adapt to Change and Move Through Transition.