Have you ever stopped to ask yourself if your stagnation or lack of motivation is related to unprocessed grief in disguise? I know we often connect grief to feeling sad, but grief can be more than just sadness. When we feel grief, it can impact how we see the world and ourselves. It can be hard to find a reason to go on because the pain is emotionally and physically debilitating. We can question if we or life will ever feel “normal” again. We can also question our strength and resiliency. It doesn’t help that we live in a society where we are expected to show up as our best versions 24/7. We can feel judged or be judged if we don’t constantly show up as happy or productive in our personal and professional lives. This can cause us to try and push through our grief so that we don’t feel the pain of the loss we experienced. But it’s unrealistic to operate at this level every single minute of every single day. At some point, trying to push through the grief will not work. Household duties will take a dip, it will be hard to concentrate at home and work, we’ll avoid others, and our sleep and eating will get bad. All these signs highlight the fact that we cannot outrun the pain we feel. We can no longer ignore the fact that we lost someone or something that was important to us. We are finally forced to acknowledge griefs ever present presence.
Healing from grief is possible. Here are a few helpful steps for doing grief healing work. Find a safe space where you can sit and feel the feelings. Taking a bath, sitting in the park or outside, or in the comfort of your bed are all good places to sit and remember who or what you’re grieving. If you want more structure during this time, you can add writing down three things you miss about the individual or thing you’re grieving. You can also put on a song and sit in your safe space for as long as the song plays and then get back to whatever responsibilities demand your attention. Another important step is to ensure that you’re getting enough rest, eating a nutritious diet, and staying hydrated. Remember there is a mind body connection; if the body feels crappy the mind will follow and vice versa. It can also be helpful to talk to a trusted person. Talking about our pain is cathartic and can be healing and is a good reminder that we are not alone. There’s a quote, grief is love with no place to go. You can try writing a letter to the individual or thing you’re grieving to feel connected to them. Finally, my personal favorite steps for grief healing work are looking at old pictures/videos while listening to music that reminds me of who (and at times what) I lost. These two steps together tend to bring up additional happy memories which can help me to feel the love shared between me and my loved one, and helps to facilitate a really good and healing cry.
And lastly, remember that grief is not linear. There may be days where it feels less intense, and other days where it feels immobilizing. Both are okay and normal. Honor where you are on any given day and take as much time as you need.
Picture Courtesy of Ephraim Mayrena/Unsplash
Christina is a Psychotherapist in private practice. She supports residents in both Kansas and California.