There’s a lot happening in this world that evokes grief for me. The Climate Crisis, Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, and the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v Wade, are just a few of the highlights. But I, like you, also encounter events that evoke grief in my personal life.
If you follow this blog, you know that my mother’s dementia and my dear cousin Allen’a death, rocked my inner world in recent years. Now I’m dealing with the decline of my dear sweet Amelie. She has been my canine companion for fourteen years but we are nearing the end of our shared journey. In fact, I wrote a poetic tribute to her that you can read here, if you like.
How do you deal with your grief?
I’m sure your life has brought you your share of joys and sorrows. And whether your grief finds its origins in global events or closer to home, it’s a powerful emotion that deserves your attention.
When it comes to grief, some of us write about it, talk about it, cry about it or take it to our therapist. Some of us do all of those things and more. And others of us, try to deny how much we hurt for a variety of reasons. Reasons some people hide or deny their grief include wanting to appear strong or together, not wanting to burden others with “negative” emotions, or simply because they are afraid their sadness will swallow them whole.
Can you relate?
I can. And I’ve used every one of the above listed coping strategies, at different times in my life. Over the years, I’ve found some work better than others.
Ignoring my feelings is only effective for me, if I have a task I need to complete as competently as I can, and only if I consciously choose to do so in the short term. In that case, I make an appointment with myself to sink into the emotions I am momentarily avoiding. And I keep that appointment, because I know that suppressing my true feelings doesn’t work longterm. If I avoid painful emotions too long it will backfire, leaving me hollow and numb. It will also distance me from myself and the people (and animals!) that I love.
Most of us are experiencing a ton of emotional overload right now. We’ve been hit with so much in such a short time. And meanwhile, our personal lives continue to serve up the usual list of challenges. For that reason, we need more tools to help us live as fully and joyfully as possible.
That’s why I’m embracing my grief. It may sound contradictory, but the best way for me to enjoy the beauty in this world and in my personal life, is to fully experience my grief. When I do so, I can more fully embrace those things I am grateful for.
Which is why I’ve begun a regular practice of listing five things I feel grief about and five things I am grateful for. And it’s working! In the past, I’ve just focused on my gratitude list. It’s a beautiful daily practice.
But given the global overwhelm and the accumulation of stressors in my personal life, listing my grief is helpful too. My grief and gratitude lists give me a more balanced and grounded perspective of my life. I also find it helpful to list my grief first, and then end with my gratitude.
Maybe that’s something you want to try too?
If you do, I’d love to know how it feels for you. Remember, list five things you are feeling grief about and five things you are grateful for. Here’s to your all your emotions, including your grief.
with Immense Love,