It’s no secret, if you’ve been keeping up with me on social media, that this has been a hell of a year for me, and not in a good way. I’m just starting to feel like a human again, thanks to friends who have offered me support, understanding, prayers, healing and, when I needed it, distance. I tend to be a lick-your-wounds-in-private, kinda girl, but it felt good, for once, to be able to accept the solace of others without feeling weakend. That was a powerful lesson to learn and I am grateful to the Divine Mother for it.
I just got back from a lovely weekend in Vermont–a Jane Austen character weekend, that included a lovely afternoon of archery and writing; a long, leisurely walk; and a lovely supper and ball. There are many things about the Regency period in which Austen wrote, particularly the clothes and the dancing, but I know I’d never make it as a 19th-century lady. Too many rules, restrictions and reasons for a woman’s ruination. It was avery ordered society.
However one convention of the time really appeals to, the idea of the mourning period, usually a year in length. Mourning clothes (black for full mourning, lavender or gray for half mourning) indicated to others that you were not obliged to keep to the conventions of society in the same way. You were allowed space and time to grieve before taking back up the threads of your life and moving on.
Or at least there was space for grief. In our modern world, know the five stages of grief, but we are encouraged to fly through them almost immediately–or at the very least, appear to do so. We are expected to function, as usual, almost no matter what circumstances befall us. We are supposed to be back to work, back to life, back to obligations, without time to properly process our emotions. We end up stuffing them down somewhere in our body where they fester and cause trouble and illness.
Here are three things to keep in mind when dealing with grief:
1. Recognize you have the right to grieve. You are not weak or over-emotional to need to grieve loss, whether it be the death or departure of a loved one, the loss of a job or home, or some other form of loss. How much grieving is required will depend on the circumstance, but acknowledging your need to mourn is the first step.
Realize that your grief may cause problems for others. Most people deal well with upset–the immediate aftermath of loss. They will hold your hand and walk you through the first hours or days of trauma. But most are not equipped for the day to day dealing with grief. So most of this process may be done in solitude unless you can find others who have suffered a similar experience.
But remember you don’t have to put on a happy face, grin and bear it, or any number of other platitudes or positive attitudes others may try to foist on you before you are ready.
2. Give yourself time to grieve. Mourning is a process, and like all processes it takes time. How much time will depend on what your are grieving. Recently, I found out I had not been offered a job I really wanted, which would have meant a lot to me and for me. I was really bummed, to say the least. I gave myself three days to be upset about it. Then I decided to get up and discover how I could make up the income I’d lost.
Of course, this is a lot different from when a parent, child, spouse or even a pet dies or is lost to us in some way. These are soul level events that affect us on all levels — physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Very often, such losses affect us on an ancestral level, bringing into play all the genetic and epigenetic knowledge in our cells into play. So, the grief stirred up may not be from this event only, but from previous lives, our ancestors, birth trauma and more.
All of this takes time to process and integrate in order to come out on the other side. Don’t rush yourself, but also don’t wallow too much. It is possible to get lost in our sadness. The purpose of mourning is, to paraphrase Elisabeth Kulber-Ross–to reinvent yourself around the loss. Mourning is an active reclamation of self under a new reality.
3. Make a conscious decision to be open to love. Very often when we suffer a loss, our natural inclination is toward emotional contraction and self-preservation. We never want to feel the same pain again. We never want to miss another as we miss our loved one. But grief also presents the opportunity to welcome in new love, particularly self-love in the begining. Pamper yourself in ways that promote your healing.
Take time to renew yourself, your relationship with your partner, your career, your life purpose, your personal mission–or any other aspect of your life that you have committed to. Reaffirm your connection and committment to those aspects of your life that still serve you; let those people, situations and concerns that no longer serve you slip away.
Coming back from grief is a great time to take a chance on those things you’ve always wanted to do and held back from. In this way, death becomes our ally, reminding us that our time here on earth is not unlimited. The time is always NOW to live our best life.