Photo of a heart with a key

The 5 Keys to Healing Grief

Photo of a heart with a key

In a recent post, Healing Grief & the Fear of Tests, I wrote about the importance of acknowledging and even embracing your grief.

I know…I can feel people recoiling as I write that. The most common reaction is “If I give into it, it may never stop.” It can certainly feel that way and yet, the exact opposite is actually true. When you give into to your grief, you create a pathway for grief to heal.

Even if you know that intellectually, allowing yourself the vulnerability to go there is incredibly difficult.

First, this is hard, hard stuff to deal with. Losing someone you love and who is an integral part of your life is devastating whether it’s a parent, a child, a spouse, a friend or a sibling. These losses are profound and life changing.

Because they’re so devastating and the path to healing is so full of unmarked trails, potholes and detours, it is virtually impossible to come out the other side of grief without some kind of support. Going it alone is just too hard for most of us. It can be formal or informal support, but support from someone else with the capacity to walk along side is vitally important.

But there’s more to it than just support.

Here are the 5 key factors contributing to successfully healing grief.

1. Support
This can be friends who get it, support groups, clergy, counselors. Sometimes family is good support and sometimes not because other family members are likely grieving too and may be in a very different place than you are without any emotional reserves to support you.

2. Education
Grief is pretty much unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced. Even if you’ve experienced less significant losses before, unless they were explained well and you got good support, there’s every chance you learned the wrong lessons about grief.

Let’s face it, none of us like death. We don’t like to talk about it and we all struggle with finding the meaning in it. Every last one of us struggles with this and avoids it for as long as we possibly can. So the chances of just happening upon a good education about death and grief are pretty slim.

3. Trust
Trust in the grieving process is essential, and that is mighty hard to come by. So much of early grief just feels downright crazy and crazy-making that trusting it feels like a mighty foolish thing to do, but trust in it we must.

The wisdom of grief is miraculous but is usually only seen in hindsight. This is why understanding the nature of grief and support from others who have survived is so very important.

4. Courage
It takes courage to follow where your grief leads especially when it’s your first significant loss or you have no one around to reassure you that what you’re experiencing is normal.

5. Time
Healing grief takes time. The death of someone you love, cuts deep to the very core of your being. Recovering is like trying to put a puzzle back together when significant pieces are missing. There is no way this can happen quickly. Sometimes we have to make new pieces or stretch others to fit a new life, and that takes considerable time.

As important as it is to allow yourself time, time alone is rarely enough. But time when combined with support, education, trust and courage, makes healing from grief not only possible but probable.

Photo Credit: kaniths

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