3 Ways to Cope When Grieving

No 1: Open Your Doors to All Feelings

Imagine you are a house. Grief (in the form of fear, anger, guilt, sorrow, sadness, despair, you name it) comes knocking at the front door. The instinct is to lock the door and block up the windows to keep it out. But the feelings are so overwhelming that this doesn’t work. They come in anyway. What does work is to open the door wide; welcome in the feelings. At the same time, open the back door, so the feelings can come in, make their presence felt and then can easily leave out the back door. They are like a visitor; and all visitors come AND go.

It is the act of non-resistance of these feelings that allows them to enter, flow through, and leave. When you batten down the hatches, trying ‘not to feel’, then they can never fully go away. They lurk around outside the ‘house’, entering in another, more insidious way. Then if the back door isn’t open, they can’t easily leave either.

Try it by saying to yourself: ‘Tears (or whatever emotion it is), I welcome you’ and imagine opening the front door of your house (your body) and at the same time, open the back door wide. Create a channel for the feeling to leave freely and easily. It will pass in its own time, even if you don’t do this exercise, but it’s a lot more likely to go quickly if it feels like it has been welcomed.

No. 2: Listen and Act on your Intuition

Often, one of the effects of loss and grief is that you feel out of control. The loss that has occurred has rendered you incapable, no longer in charge of life and at the effect of life circumstances instead.  This can be frightening, as your normal routine goes out the window, you struggle to deal with the impact of sudden loss, or the ongoing ravages of an ongoing loss.

However, this breakdown of the normal structures of your life creates a window of opportunity to increase the trust you have in your intuition. So practice listening to and acting on intuitive impulses, thoughts, ideas popping into your head, gut feelings or any of the other ways in which intuition shows up. Keep a note of them and what happens when you act on them. This way you will be building your confidence and trust in yourself, at a time when it may feel very wobbly.

No 3:  Tell It Like It Is

In Western culture, we are far too good at pretending things are OK, when inside our hearts are breaking. The numbers of bereaved people I have spoken to who have said they ‘put a brave face on it’, ‘pretend that they are managing’, or ‘feel embarrassed if they tell anyone how it really is’ is alarming. So be brave – tell the truth when someone asks how you are. You don’t have to tell them the details; I used to say ‘Not that good actually. But I am managing. This means you are telling them you are OK and affirming that you are, and will, manage.

However, it is easier to manage if you have support – so reach out and get some professional help, either in a group (face to face or online) or privately. That’s because telling it like it is is scary. It makes you vulnerable. It’s a risk. But when you can share with a professional who has experienced death themselves, and knows how to ‘hold’ you, it makes what sometimes feels unbearable, bearable.

 

, ,

2 Responses to 3 Ways to Cope When Grieving

  1. Juliet October 23, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

    What great tips, so practical and essential.

    That phrase ‘ongoing ravages’ of loss really cut deep. I love that first tip about imagining oneself as a house with the doors open for letting in and letting out.
    It strikes me that this is a great tip for dealing with any difficult emotions, at any time. Thank you for your beautifully distilled wisdom Jane.

    • Jane Duncan Rogers October 24, 2015 at 8:57 am #

      Yes, that image seems to work for a lot of people. I guess we all know what it’s like when something or someone knocks at the door!

Leave a Reply