Last week I wrote about how to deal with unexpected change. I was blessed with some very supportive answers from fellow bloggers…and an underlying message was to take some time and listen…which I did. I discovered that deep down I was anticipating the grief: the sadness, and pain, I was going to feel because of the change I would be undergoing. And this anticipatory grief was getting in my way—my feelings were not being tended to, and I couldn’t make any choices because I was ignoring what I was really feeling. It was hard to discover my true feelings because what was going to happen was something good, and yet, I was feeling sad.
When I did my residency at the hospital years ago, I used to talk about anticipatory grief often with my colleagues. I worked in the ICU and Transplant Units and could often tell when death was near and I knew when I was feeling sad about losing my patient and watching the family grieve as well. I understood this grief. It made sense. I could call it by its name. Grieving death was normal…something to be expected—and the people I worked with understood it too. They created a safe place to talk about grief.
BUT! Grief isn’t just an experience before or after someone dies—Grief is also very normal in the every day dealings of life. Every Day Grief can happen when: we have a baby & everything in life changes, or the kind of grief we have when we finish college, or the kind of grief we have when we move out of state, or the kind of grief we have when we realize we aren’t living the life we had hoped for and so on. [This kind of] grief is not something we usually want to talk about in our culture. Consequently, when I say, I’m grieving about some future event or something I’m going through, I notice I often get the expected response: “It will be okay. Don’t worry so much.” Yet, the response I really need is a good LISTENING EAR, that is comfortable with my feelings…that says, “I hear what you are saying, and if you need anything, I’m here for you.”
I believe that if we, as a culture, were more comfortable with grief, we all might be a lot happier & healthier in life: We could talk about what we feel—and feel listened to—and be able to move through our grief more naturally and comfortably.
- We wouldn’t be hiding our feelings: Our grief wouldn’t be a hidden experience in our lives that keeps us feeling down—we would be dealing with what we were feeling and give ourselves the chance to understand what we really need at that time
- We would be dealing with our feelings while they were happening: We would be able to be in the moment instead of misunderstanding our feelings for something else.
- We wouldn’t be as reactive to people who are close to us: Sometimes when we don’t understand our grief we may be more reactive towards people we are close to. For example, we may get angry with our spouse because he or she says the wrong thing, when the real reason we are angry is because we don’t feel like we are being cared for—
- We would be able to ask for help or care more easily when we know that we are grieving—if grieving is an accepted part of life–people won’t feel shamed for their feelings or experience of grief and thus, be more in tune with themselves and what they need when feeling this way.
Are you able to talk openly about your grief? Whether it be about death, change, loss of self or identity, etc.?
It is always amazing to me how so many of us talk about wanting to be happy and positive all the time, but in doing so we often forget how important it is that we allow ourselves to feel sadness, anger, loss, etc. because by allowing ourselves to be open about our feelings we actually are allowing ourselves to heal—and the healing invites the positive, happy, joyful feelings to naturally arise.
Give yourself the gift of being tender with you, and let yourself grieve when you need to. Grief comes and goes whenever it wants to show up so don’t be hard on yourself and say, “What’s wrong with me?…Just let it be: accept it and love yourself enough to say, “It’s okay that I feel this way today.” And trust that there will be better days ahead when the time is right!
But also remember that being consumed with grief that leads to depression or grief that begins to interfere with your life, is not healthy— and you should seek help when you need it! You deserve to be well!
Blessings,Erin, Bella Bleue
©Bella Bleue Healing, Health & Inspiration for Your Life™
*photo from Wikpedia: Angel of Grief