I’ve been feeling the collective grief so strongly lately, and I feel called to share some valuable lessons I’ve learned for myself about grieving, in case they are supportive for you too:
1 – Do not try to resist the grief. I am either feeling it fully, or it is operating covertly beneath a facade of coping. Resisted grief can show up as lingering anxiety, malaise, stuck-ness, flatness, irritability or anger, or as physical pain. I find it is better to simply grieve and say yes to the pain. I try to remember that it will not last forever, and that the deeper I dive into it, the more quickly it will move through me.
2 – Grief is a raging fire that burns away a piece of my identity, and that’s why I want to resist it. Grief requires that I accept that part of me has died, yet I am wired for survival. Grief means that the story I was living has ended, often without completion, and there is nothing I can do about it. This can be a tough pill to swallow, and I can have compassion for my experience.
3 – The transformation that grief brings is unparalleled, and something greater always rises from the ashes. I may not know what that will be, but I know I will feel more alive in the process. I can point to several times in my past where grieving has culminated in the most priceless and surprising gifts of my life, and this helps me cultivate enough faith to surrender a little more. The deeper into the grief I go, the more capacity I will have for joy. Sometimes, when I manage to truly say yes to the grief, it becomes so intense that it is actually indistinguishable from joy. Grief is my gateway to more life.
4 – It’s crucial to limit distractions and emotionally-numbing mechanisms like social media, junk TV, intoxicants, sugary food so that I can fully feel the grief. I will be more drawn to these things than ever before and I still need to know when to say No.
5 – I need to sit in stillness and breathe… Shake and dance to a song that really moves me… Wail at the top of my lungs, from my toes to my belly and up through my heart and throat… letting it all out and letting my heart break wide open.
6 – I need to nourish myself with especially good food, great company and wise teachings. Some of my favorite books to read in these times: The Untethered Soul, Eat Pray Love, Love Warrior, Red Hot & Holy. I may think that no one will want to be around me when I’m grieving and I will always be wrong about that. It is important to have support.
7 – Sleep is essential but sometimes hard to do while grieving. However, if I make space to grieve in the day, I will sleep better at night.
8 – This is THE time to write and make art. It will be some of the most incredible art I ever create and I will be born anew as an artist.
9 – To grieve is to be human, and is an essential element of being alive. I will return to grief again and again as long as I am breathing.