This month, we will be exploring grief.
Grief comes in many different forms. It may come as the response to a death, job loss, marriage, or identity. As November begins, we have chosen to bring light to grief, often heightened in the next few weeks of the year.
What is grief?
Grief is the response we experience after a loss. We traditionally associate grief as the feeling response to loss though grief stretches over our cognitive, physical, social, spiritual, and cultural areas of lives. It does not look the same for everyone and is a natural process after a loss.
Grief and loss are deep pain. They hit all areas of a person like a lightning bolt that jars every cell. Grief leaves us alone, and having a hard time finding new meaning in all areas of our lives. It changes our being.
Ways to Process Grief
Talk about it.
- We know grief can feel isolating, as no one understands – and no one may, given that it is your unique experience. But we can connect with others on the shared feelings associated with loss. There is power and healing through acknowledging the grief with people who welcome and provide safety to feel. Not trying to fix, minimize, or make you feel better but simply listening and holding space for your experience. Slowly we can find the language to the feeling.
- As we find safe people who will allow us to feel grief and loss, it may naturally lead us to find community. As grief can feel isolating – knowing that you are not alone in this feeling can provide relief. We as humans will all feel grief at some level, at some moment, and we can’t do this alone.
Caring to the Body.
- All feelings/emotions are held in the body. It’s not uncommon to experience health issues shortly after a loss as our bodies are holding onto deep pain. By practicing listening to what our bodies are feeling and recognizing where grief is stored, we can start to incorporate ways to release tension. Grief has been linked to increased inflammation, depletes our nervous system, and increases blood pressure. The same regions in the brain are activated when responding to and processing emotional and physical pain highlighting the importance of taking care of ourselves as we go through and process our emotional experiences. A few ways to take care of ourselves and release the pain include walking, light stretching, sunshine, eating natural foods, yoga, sound therapy, massage therapy, and resting.
- Whether grief arises as a response to a death, an end of a relationship, a career change, or letting go of past versions of ourselves – creating a ritual or practice can be a practical way to honor our feelings, experience, person, or ending. Western culture pushes us to quickly get over our experiences, often leading us to stuff down what we feel. By cultivating a practice, we allow those feelings to arise, bring light to them, and then let them pass. A ritual could look like writing letters, continuing to celebrate birthdays, praying on anniversaries, taking an annual trip, lighting a candle, or engaging in activities connecting you with the loss.
Over the next two months, to honor and bring light to loss, Torus will offer a Grief Group to allow space to talk about and process the challenges in moving forward after loss. Groups provide support and strength, often when you may not find your own.
We here at Torus want to honor and support your grief. So we are dedicating this month to talking about it. We hope we can give you light; in something that is not so light.
Written by Chardyce Kott, LSW