Whew, did I miss it? Did I really experience Christmas without my loved one(s) who has recently passed? Why did they leave me behind? Didn’t they realize the difficulty of dealing with this unbearable pain? I am riddled with grief, and I just can’t shake it. Here I am in January and my heart is still heavy. How can I go on?
It’s not unusual to feel this way after losing a loved one. It’s especially difficult to find comfort in the midst of a heavy loss. Winter can be very drawn out especially for those who are on a grief journey trying to sift and sort through the heartache of it all. The days are long and can easily take us into the “dark night of the soul”.
So how do we get through this? Can’t we just be like Elizabeth Montgomery in “Bewitched” (I know, I am dating myself and only the baby boomers will get it) and wiggle our nose and fast forward the grieving process? Unfortunately, the answer is “no”. We must befriend our grief and sit with it, as messy as it can be, in order to start moving it into mourning.
As Gary Sturgis writes in Living with a Broken Heart, he talks about the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz and he goes on to say . . .
“Remember what the Tin Man said in the “Wizard of Oz” after he finally got a heart . . . “Now I know I’ve got a heart because it’s breaking.” If someone you love has gone, your heart is probably broken.
So how do you live with a broken heart? The answer isn’t how you fix it or move beyond it. The skill is learning to live with your grief as an ongoing way of being in the world. It’s the way you honour that which you love.”
As our grief moves into mourning, sometimes out of the blue, we get blindsided by something that triggers us. I recall being in a Staples store, yes, a Staples store of all places, and something triggered me, and I had to leave because I broke down. Accepting my emotional state is one example of how we are able to shift that grief into mourning. Even if it is in a Staples store. It is the outward expression of our internal experience.
The experience of grief is like none other. We all endure it in different ways and at different times in our lives. We need to process the experience in order to accept it; and, by moving it forward we will get to the other side. It doesn’t mean that you will ever stop grieving for your loved one, it’s the intensity of the internal grief response that lessens over time.
To be continued . . .