Saturday, January 11, 2020
Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, January 11, 2020 - Coping with Grief
What is the ideal way to cope with grief? We typically do and say all sorts of things when we grieve which are out of character for us typically. We might pick fights we don’t mean to, take actions which are not in our best interest, or end up alienating those whom we need most.
Then there are those who withdraw entirely. Refusing to speak about or even think of the source of their grief. They shut down and function at bare minimum. Closing out others and, ultimately, only prolonging their suffering.
So much advice in our society refers to the notion of taking a protective stance when dealing with unpleasantness, “negative energies,“ etc. We feel that we can’t deal with the emotions of grief so we attempt to shut them down or build walls to protect ourselves from them. Yet protection from grief is both impossible and futile.
What we seek is peace. We think that what we want is to have things return to the way they were before, even while knowing it’s impossible to accomplish. There is never any going back. Not really. Even an attempt to return to the way things were before is either imbued with history which cannot be erased, or is simply not physically possible, and therefore out of our control. Recognize that a significant portion of your grief is about lack of control. Release that if you can. You have enough to deal with already. Try to have peace with the fact that you can’t control what’s going on around you or even control the grief you feel. Admit you are powerless and relent.
You see, grief is not a real thing unto its own. It is not a demon with an agenda. It is a word we use to describe the feelings associated with the necessary recalibration of our reality when a change occurs. Our brains adapt easily to new situations, but not quickly. And it can physically hurt while that recalibration occurs. There is no need to deny it. The pain is real.
The best thing to do is to simply allow it to be. To sit with it and honor it. Honor the grief and pain. Don’t welcome it or expand upon it so much as mindfully recognize it exists and serves a function in your life. Ask your grief to be a blessing. Ask it to set you upon a new path of joy and fulfillment. Give the change and shift within you time and space to do it’s best work. Don’t resist it, welcome it.
That is not to say that you wished to make this change at this time. It is not an honoring of the loss, it’s a respect for the fertile ground upon which you now stand. Give thanks for the garden which comes from that manure. Allow looking back to become an act of looking forward.
This is an exercise of a life practice to have faith that things are not always as they appear. This is an exercise of remembering that you are loved and good can come from all sadness if we are on the lookout for it. Good will eventually come from your grief if you acknowledge that good is eventually possible.
Spend your energy while grieving on the giving of thanks for what the past has brought you and for what the future may yet hold. It will seem scary. It will feel as though you are deluding yourself to imagine a time when your heart will feel lighter. But eventually, your heart will do just that. It’s okay to admit it.
When sadness overwhelms you, sit down, close your eyes, and give thanks. Breathe deeply and mindfully. Don’t resist the sadness. Allow it to wash over and through you. Let it soak into your skin and become one with you. Allow it to become a new swirl of color in your aura. Give it permission to exist. Resisting it will only prolong it, but honoring it will allow it to do its job as quickly as possible. Grief is busy. It’s not looking to stick around.
These are, essentially, mind tricks. They are deliberate ways of allowing your brain’s synaptic wiring to make its best effort at recalibrating itself for your new reality as smoothly as humanly possible. Give it a chance to do that without polluting its purpose with needless guilt or repression of feelings.
So often we subconsciously feel that we must grieve to a certain degree in order to prove our love for whom or what has just left us. It is untrue. You have nothing to prove, your love is already known, and to attempt it is just wasting time which might otherwise be spent healing and growing.
If there is a cosmic purpose to drastic life change, I believe it somehow configures in with growth and love. That is the little angel on my shoulder speaking. Somehow, grief and loss appear to be appropriate to the engine of love on this planet. We accomplish so much in the name of things and people past. Our history propels us forward always. But only in direct proportion to our allowing of it.
Give into your grief and thank it for its presence. Be allowing. Recognize that this too shall pass. And when the time is just right, bid it hail and farewell.
Posted by Wil Darcangelo, M.Div. at 12:00 AM