This last month has had some glorious high moments but I've also had my share of lows...
In this process, I've had to re-learn the art of giving myself time to grieve. Here are some of my insights gleaned from this journey that I hope will be helpful to you whether you're grieving losing a loved one, a friend moving away, your children going off to college, leaving a job or any other transition big or small that fills you with a sense of loss:
- You can't skip grief. I had hoped that I might be able to shorten or possibly even avoid some of the grieving process by having a lot of happy things going on in my life such as getting all excited about my book launch. Although, consciously this can put you in a happier state, your subconscious still realizes that you have something left to process and release. For me, that manifested itself as a headache. Are there any unpleasant emotions that you've been trying to avoid that you need to go through instead of skip over?
- Your body is so, so smart and it will tell you something is off even when you don't think anything is wrong. If you have a headache, it can be due to trapped emotions inside your body. That's definitely true for me. Unexplainable rashes or skin irritation can be due to being afraid of something or someone in your environment or taking on other people's burdens in an unhealthy way. Also, I find that if I sleep through my alarm (not a typical thing for me to do) it's a sign that I'm deeply unhappy with something that is present in my life. If I have the opposite problem of not being able to sleep through the night, it means that I'm anxious about something and/or grieving. Has your body been trying to tell you something? What do you think it is saying?
- There's a gap between your old life and your new life. I came across a really interesting article on "What Happens When We Grieve?" that described a phenomenon that I hadn't fully understood before. When we experience grief, we don't immediately go from our old life to our new life. Instead, we end up in what the author calls the "Waiting Room" where we're still attached to the past and then unsure of what the future looks like. This is natural and normal for a time but then it's important to move into the next phase of creating your new life. The author had a great point that "Ultimately it is not the grief that stops us from starting life over, but fear of losing that life all over again." Are you stuck in the Waiting Room? If so, are you willing to start taking steps of courage to create a new life?
- You need to take care of your body, mind, heart, and spirit. Going through difficult times doesn't just affect part of us--it has an impact on all of us. That's why it's absolutely essential that you're gentle with yourself. Taking care of your body can mean going on a walk, doing yoga, making sure you get enough sleep, or getting a massage. Caring for your mind can include journaling, taking time to think things through, or meditating. Giving your heart space to heal can include talking with a friend, getting a hug, or doing something special for yourself. Healing your spirit can include meditation, going to a religious service, and prayer. How could you be kind to yourself this week?
I think the most important thing to remember is that even though it can feel excruciatingly painful at times, grief can come to an end. When you grieve well, it gives you a depth and richness nothing else can. I believe that the mourning of this past month can and will turn to joy for us as we go through the pain and honor our inner wisdom instead of avoiding it.
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E® a time coaching company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished. She is an expert on achieving more success with less stress. Real Life E® also encourages Christians to align themselves with God's heart through Divine Time Management.
McGraw Hill published her first book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Harvard Business Review published her second book How to Invest Your Time Like Money. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fast Company and the 99U blog on productivity for creative professionals and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox.
This post is part of Common Grief, a Healthy Living editorial initiative. Grief is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn't make navigating it any easier. The deep sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage or even moving far away from home, is real. But while grief is universal, we all grieve differently. So we started Common Grief to help learn from each other. Let's talk about living with loss. If you have a story you'd like to share, email us at email@example.com.