Last time, I wrote about 3 of the problems with grief. Often, identifying something correctly is a big part of feeling like there is hope. Figuring out that what you are feeling may be grief can be so helpful.
Here’s why: knowing that you are grieving can suddenly put you in a different frame of mind. Not knowing that you may be grieving can make you think all kinds of things about yourself that aren’t true. Things like, there’s something wrong with me, I shouldn’t feel like this, I need to ignore this feeling, this feeling might never change. Because grief is a result of loss, knowing that you are grieving is a bit like knowing that you are responding to something in a natural and expected way.
I will often suggest that people look at grief as a familiar being. Not necessarily a friend or an enemy, but a presence in their life for a time. Something that stands with you, sits with you, wakes you up, or walks through the day and night with you- not because you want it to, but because your mind, heart, and body are being jolted into the reality of what it is like to live without… without someone, something that you cherished. The presence of grief is truly the entity that is with you, helping your entire being transition from who you were with… to who you are becoming without. I often refer to grief as the space between what your head knows and what your heart feels. Grief is your guide. Grief is your reminder. Grief is your pain standing up and saying please look at me.
Do you have to love that this familiar being is right there in the room with you, and so often? No, not at all. But, when you can acknowledge it as an important traveling companion, you honor what the loss means. You honor the love and need for what has been lost. You honor the process of how life will be shaped with each day to come. You could even name it if you were so inclined. A healing dialogue with grief might go like this: “Welcome, G. I see that whether or not I’ve invited you to be here, you’ve shown up anyway. So, I guess you’re coming with me on all my stops today. I will do my best to acknowledge you.Just so you know, sometimes that means I will barely be aware that you’re here, and sometimes it means I will fully put my hand in yours.”
Hopefully, acknowledging grief in this way can help with all those thoughts that there must be something wrong with you, or that you should be “over it” by now. Take your time and recognize the importance of your place in this journey.
Terry Bouma, LCPC