Help With GRIEF
“Grief is being here when in your heart, mind and soul you’d rather be there.” Paul Alexander
Have you ever gone to a shopping mall or maybe an airport where they have the maps displayed of layout and location of all the stores, restaurants, attractions? I recently went to one in Florida in a store that seemed to ramble on for miles. I was looking at the map and was able to locate the store I wanted to shop in. As I looked at the map I found the words YOU ARE HERE. It was a BIG shopping mall and I must have looked like the village idiot staring at the map trying to figure out where I was.
For the life of me I couldn’t figure it out. I am here, but I want to be there..but when I turn around I’m not here nor there..actually I’m really not sure where I am and feel a bit dizzy! But I’m here...and I don’t like it here cause I’ve never been here before and gosh it really feels like I should be there. I want to be somewhere where I know how to navigate and feel like I belong.
What is GRIEF?
Grief, is being here when in your heart, body, mind and soul would do anything you could to be there - Alexander
Grief is a natural response to loss - Lindemann
Grief is used to describe the emotional pain that accompanies a sense of loss - Freud, Switzer, Frees
Grief is the process of experiencing the psychological, social, and physical reactions to your perception of loss - Rando
Grief is a process of awareness, of making real inside the self an event that already occurred in reality outside - Parkes and Weiss
Grief is an inevitable part of love - Sullender
What is GRIEF to you?
Grief is: ______________________________________________________
Grief is a reaction which involves the totality of all our senses and being. We respond emotionally, physically, behaviorally, and spiritually. Listed below are what many list as the "symptoms" of grief. I'm not sure I like the word "symptom" because it suggests that one is sick has a medical illness . I prefer the word "response" rather than "symptom" . The body-mind- spirit connection is ever present in our facing the reality of our losses. When someone faces the death of a loved one or significant person there will be an experience of grief and bereavement on many levels and levels, often not easily noticed by the immediate eye of the beholder.
The Feelings, Behaviors, and Physical Responses of Grief:
Fear of Death
Unable to Concentrate
Carry out rituals
Preoccupied with the deceased
Carry objects of deceased
Sense presence of the deceased
Sense of Emancipation
Increased substance use
Something stuck in throat
Emptiness in gut
Shortness of breath
Sexual desire changes
Lowered immunity to illness
As we can see by reviewing these reactions that grief affects us on many levels and is still a natural response. C.S Lewis states that grief “ is a universal and intergral part of the experience of love.” (A Grief Observed) One is able to navigate the grief journey by acknowleding and honoring what is true to your story of loss. Sometimes the oceans of grief flow gently and other times they are rough and harsh. The ebb and flow will surely be there as the natural order of the grief progresses, waxes and wanes. Don’t rush the ocean and as best you can ride with the waves and curl in a ball when they threathen to overpower you. You can choose how you will face the tide. Befriend your grief by giving yourself permission, time, space and supports to adjust to this new world. There is not a right or wrong way to grieve. But there are ways to honor your individual pulse and rhythm.
Elisabeth Kubler Ross, a pioneer in the field of death and dying, spoke of the stages of dying which also transferred early on to the literature of bereavement. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance became useful map points for the dying and grief process.The down side of looking at phases and stages is that one may judge oneself for not moving to the finish line. Grief is more like a hodge podge of moments than a race through to the finish line. We hear the questions in our hearts and in our minds as we engage in the difficult questions of "How do I get through today? What will trigger off my emotions? How do I sleep alone? How do I drive by the hospital where she died or go to church where the funeral was held? How can I possibly go shopping?"
There are many faces of grief .Grief is extremely personal and in many ways grieving requires one to be active to move forward and to a new normal.It's different than recovering from an illness. It doesn’t just get better in time ,although time continues to challenge us in facing the realities of our present circumstances and life attitude. Grieving is not passive although at times we feel done unto. Grief certainly makes us different than we were before the loss. Our personalities endure and reformulate to integrate and make sense of life without a significant living connection.
We may look the same but the inner workings and rewiring of our heart strings and temperament need time and processing. I think we need more clothing or hats to wear when we are in facing the fires of grief. Perhaps we should wear a cast like after one breaks an arm or a leg.
People hold the doors open or run and get us coffee or ask us if we need anything. We can make a grief cast or sign that says: "Please Handle with Care!" My heart is hurting and my mind is working overtime to make sense of it all.Will someone listen long enough and not think I’m crazy or smile at me or
pat my hand with a sympathic puppy dog look? I want you to know I’m in different terrain now.
In an attempt to understand the grief process on a universal scale it is sometimes tempting to get locked into the phases and stages syndrome of grief.It perhaps helps us feel in control or understand better what seems a roller coaster of emotions and other responses. It is important to remember not to pigeon hole yourself or those you love or support into a model of orderly progression that leads to a certificate of completion. Grief can be unpredictable and how I grieve may look different than how you are grieving...
You were there and now you are here. Breathe deeply, rest often, nurture every aspect of your being and honor the life and love you have experienced through action, reminiscence and creative expression.