5 steps to healthy grieving

5 steps to healthy grieving
“The harder the mind struggles to get rid of the pain,
the greater the pain.” – ECKHART TOLLE
I was talking to a friend the other day. Her Dad is sick, and will soon die, and I can see that she already carries a weight that is crushing her. We were both multi tasking with our work as we chatted about our days. I had to force a few slow, deep breaths as I hustled around the kitchen on a tight timeline before school pick up, to take myself to a place that was familiar, because I wanted to really be present for what she needed. I didn’t just want to ask how her Dad was, I wanted to get close to the space she was in. That didn’t mean saying the right thing that I felt she needed to hear, I just wanted to be in her tight space for a moment, in silence, and get close to what she was feeling. We both agreed, that grief is not easy. 
Once you’ve known that kind of grief, you know it is a grief that will always insist on visiting again, invited or not. I have been free from these crushing grief visits for quite a number of years now. And watching my friend suffer made me think for a moment, “When will my next visit be?”. Grief isn’t only what you feel after a death. It can come from the breakup of a relationship, a partnership or watching someone close to you, suffer – any kind of deep sorrow. I feel ready for anything that comes at me with all that I’ve learned from past grief. I know there is strength and beauty from such suffering. I’m not afraid to dig deep and do the grief work. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t crush me.  
“Don’t try to fix it.”
From my experience, I do know getting through grief takes time. When I was going through my heaviest grief, reading and journalling helped me, immensely. I made note of ‘5 Ss’ (5 words that start with S – just a way for me to remember the words) that seemed to help me and others that I read about. When I paid attention to the following 5 Ss I found I gained a strength I couldn’t explain and the ability to see that everything was going to be ok. Remember, no two griefs are alike. You can not compare one person’s grief to another’s. I share these in the hopes that they, too, can help another in their times of grief. Remember these 5 Ss for your next grief visit:
Like my friend, I can see she has let her pain surface and is sitting with that pain. This is the first step to healing, even though it may seem more painful to some. You have to face the fire to see the light. Don’t be afraid. No sweeping under the carpet allowed. 
2) SIT
Grief is a heavy place. If you don’t face it, and more importantly, sit with it – without trying to fix it (ie, drowning your woes with alcohol or constant busying yourself to avoid hard emotions/tears) – it will bite you in the ass down the road. Sit with your pain. Just be. Write in a journal, talk to a friend or therapist, cry, meditate, read a book – whatever. (If there are kids involved, give them these same tools to cope. Give them outlets and make them feel comfortable talking about their feelings.) Allow yourself (&/or your kids) that space and time.
Only after you allow painful feelings to surface, without trying to fix them, will you feel strength again. You have to do the grief work before they can settle. This is where you start to feel better. 
This is when you find new strength. A strength that is hard to describe. If you do this grief work, everything will be ok. 
You will also find a softness inside you. Because with something bad comes something good (if you do the grief work); along with strength, comes a softness. That’s empathy for others, a renewed love of life and all things living/family/friends. You get to live a deeper life and love more. And that is a good thing.
With grief, the road can seem so long ahead and you often find yourself wondering how you will get through each day. But try to remember that time does heal* (I know, old cliché but it’s true), your grief will become more manageable; and there is a beauty that comes from suffering if you dig deep, take the time to do the grief work and respect the process. Trust your journey.
SIDE NOTE: Especially with a death, be sure to apply this years down the road – at anniversaries or any time that you might think of that person. Allow whatever hard feeling to surface and be sure to sit with those feelings. Take time to honour that person (I have other posts on how to honour and remember loved ones that have died). Grief work is ongoing.