Photo of woman in tears.

Being Present to the Grief

Photo of woman in tears.

Days later I learned that a very good friend’s husband was hit by a bus and left in critical condition only to pass away shortly after. He was a great man with a sweet soul and a gentle nature. He loved his animals, his wife, and kids, and seemed to always have a smile for you when in his presence.

When I heard the news, I initially felt resistance to the sadness as I had so much to do that day and didn’t feel like I had time to feel it.

My body was starting to feel tense and I noticed irritability arising. A little thought arose, “maybe you should just take some time to feel this, the other stuff can wait.” I found a picture of him online and stared at it for a few moments and then I realized, “I need to feel this” and just let it be. After spending some moments letting the tears roll down, the tension and irritability melted away, I began to feel much more connected to myself and more compassion and empathy arose for my friend who lost her husband.

Mindful grieving informs us to allow ourselves to feel what is there, without judgment. For me, there was sadness there and I needed to nonjudgmentally acknowledge it, feel it, and let it be. It was important in that moment that I didn’t resist it or strive to make it any different, but just feel it as it was.

Read Why Feeling Grief is Good for Us

This is so true and yet I hear from people everyday who tell me they’re trying to be strong. I tell them to stop being strong and let the grief take them where they need to go.

It’s a hard sell.

Fear has a lot to do with the resistance. Fear that if we give into the grief, we will never be able to stop.

Ironically the reverse is true. It is only when we face the grief (and the fear we have about facing it) that we’re able to move through it. Trying to be strong blocks the flow that will in time carry us into the future. It doesn’t happen quickly nor easily but it does happen as long as we don’t get in the way.

Trying to manage grief by denying all those feelings usually results in prolonged grief that gets stuck in all the most painful places. Those who do seem to keep it together, are at greater risk for much more complicated grief with the next loss, even if the next is a relatively minor one.

The worst part of not feeling the grief is that the human organism is incapable of distinguishing the “good” emotions from the “bad.” So in trying to avoid the grief, we end up avoiding everything including the love and joy life still has to offer.

When we don’t feel the feelings everything starts looking dingy, drab and dull.

Image by Victoria_Borodinova from Pixabay

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