We often hear that grief is a journey. In many ways, it is a trip without a roadmap or a path that we have not been on before. It is a journey that has dark places and often is bumpy. You may be wondering how you will survive this trip and what will be at the end of the road. You might even think that you can avoid this journey altogether by denying the loss but this will only prolong your journey of grief.
You may have a feeling of numbness in the beginning. You know life is moving forward but you really don’t feel like you are moving with it. You might feel the weight of sorrow pulling you down. It is okay to allow yourself to feel the pain, be angry or sad. Whatever you are feeling at the moment remember that it will not last.
We don’t know how long the trip will take as there is no set timeline for grief. Each person will travel at their own speed. Grief affects each person differently as some may experience anger, sleep loss, pain, withdrawal from others or feel overall distress. It is okay to reach out to someone who has experienced a loss but just remember that your experience may not be the same as someone else. Listen to what they tell you but don’t try to fall into their path as your experience is going to be different than your friend’s. Discovering what is right for you, is important in this journey.
On this journey as you seek peace from the pain, first start by acknowledging your loss and the pain that you feel. You would be surprised by how many people try to ignore the loss thinking that if they ignore the pain, it will go away. That is not the case with the pain from grief. Acknowledge your loss. When my mom died my dad asked me to call everyone and let them know. It was really hard at first to acknowledge that my mom was gone but by the time I was at the end of the list, I felt the beginning of acknowledging that she was no longer here.
When you take a trip, you cannot drive for eight hours without stopping. You need breaks and fuel stops along the way. The same is true for grief. You need to address your physical needs. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, the recommended 7-8 hours. Eating healthy is also important. You might plan your meals so you don’t find yourself snacking or eating junk food. Staying hydrated will also help with stress. When you are grieving it is easy to get dehydrated which will impair your ability to think clearly. It is easy to ignore taking care of yourself. Focus on what is best for you.
Find someone to talk to who is not judgmental or trying to “fix you” but listens to you. This might mean finding a support group where you can share your story. I found it healing to share my loss with others. You might even find a grief support group on Facebook, sometimes telling your story to strangers who have had a similar experience is healing. There are several groups available like https://www.facebook.com/groups/aeagrieftribe or Grief - Love, Loss and Healing
Find pleasure in the small things in life and begin noticing sunsets, gardens, or your surroundings. This can be very healing as you start to focus on what is around you. Consider taking a walk in the neighborhood or park. Think about what puts a smile on your face. What is uplifting for you? Maybe a pet, a new plant, or a flower. We are all different so find what works for you.
Remember, there is not a timeline on how long grief will take or how long you will stay in one phase of grief. The end result of our trip will be acceptance of our loss and moving forward in life. We must give ourselves permission to move forward and to begin living life again.