Making Space for Grief
Whether you are processing the loss of a relationship, a dream, a person, a pet, a home, a career, or a hope- grief is an extremely individual experience. And, it feels like it.
People around you can try to be supportive and encouraging, but no one can sit with you in the exact same feelings, memories, and thoughts that you hold. And, it can be really lonely.
Not only is it hard for people to know what to say or how to even approach someone who is hurting, but our society is realllyyyy avoidant of grief. People who are grieving get this very short window where they are allowed to be sad, to struggle, but it isn't long before they are reminded that the world is still spinning and they are expected to catchup. Even clinically, there are assigned timeframes for how long grief is allowed before it becomes "complicated".
And that is so unfair.
Because, you know what is really harmful for people who are grieving?
Pretending they're ok when they are not
Hiding their feelings to make others feel more comfortable
Shoving down emotions without processing them
Feeling guilty for "not being over it yet"
Instead, it is really important that we make space for our grief experience.
And before I go any further, I want to acknowledge that this is not an experience you chose, or asked for, or approve of, and it's probably extremely frustrating to hear that you have to make space for this awful thing in your life.
That is real.
You're 100% right.
I truly and sincerely wish that I could somehow make it all better.
But, what I can offer is a next step.
So, where the heck do you begin with incorporating this difficult experience?
Incorporating grief may look like:
Channeling our grief-related emotions into a positive outlet (art, journaling etc.)
Finding ways to acknowledge the person/ thing/ experience we are missing in our day-to-day lives (a picture, time to intentionally remember, lighting a candle etc.)
Talking about it- with others, with ourselves, towards the person/ pet/ thing we are missing (this is not weird or something you should feel ashamed about)
Acknowledging the toll grief takes physically, mentally, emotionally and being kind to ourselves as we heal (releasing commitments, saying "no", asking for help, etc.)
Refusing to pretend it didn't happen or trying to make others comfortable when it comes up- being true to ourselves and our experience, trusting others can handle it
The truth is that stifling our memories and feelings about a relationship, a dream, a person, a pet, a home, a career, or a hope- it serves no one. It only cocoons us into a lonely space where we hurt quietly.
You hold your healing.
Meredith Waller MSW, LCSW
Based in Boulder, CO and offering online counseling throughout Colorado
-Certified Shame-Informed Treatment Specialist
-Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional