Loving Ourselves Through Grief

While some may think of it as vain or superficial, in the context of long-suffering agony, it is essential that everyone finds room in their heart to love themselves through their grief. Fully and completely.

The definition of love is to feel a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person, such as a parent, child or friend. Self-love is defined as the instinct we have to preserve our own well-being (at all costs). Why then, would it be considered wrong and worthy of so much self-punishment (as many grievers succumb to) when loving ourselves through horrendous loss is the right thing to do? A loss that in our wildest imagination, we could never have prevented.

As a mom of my daughter who died by suicide in 2005, this latter point has kept me punishing myself to various extremes over the years, mostly experienced as mental and emotional conflict when I imagine all the various things I could and should have done differently to prevent her death. I’ve never quite been able to accept that there wasn’t more I could have done to save my child. Despite my many attempts to banish the tormenting thoughts from my mind, they keep coming back.

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Your Rights in Grief

I  know that grief is a difficult topic and we don’t discuss it much in the open. Yet, there isn’t one person not affected by grief in some way. What’s so sad and even shameful in western culture (or any other culture perpetuating this shame and secrecy)  is that we aren’t allowed to show our sadness from loss in public. At least not comfortably. Ever! And that needs to change. Because it isn’t only sadness we feel in grief. It’s a host of other emotions and difficulties we experience that can and do end up ruining people’s relationships, careers, finances and even families.

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7 Tips to Manage the Holidays

Most grievers will attest to the difficulty that many, if not all holidays, present after the loss of a loved one. With Christmas just around the corner (and all other celebrations taking place around the world at this time), for many bereaved individuals, coping with major holidays can present a huge challenge, no matter how long ago their loss. Trying to survive the endless parties and celebrations looking happy and feeling festive is hard.

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Getting Grounded in Grief

As a bereaved mom of a beautiful daughter who died by suicide in 2005 at the age of twenty-two, I certainly know pain and suffering. Just like a lot of other people know pain and suffering who have lost someone to suicide, sudden and/or traumatic death. I have done a lot of work to heal from my pain over the years and have had tremendous success to this point, but it’s an ongoing journey.

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Understanding Limitations in Grief

From a purely physical perspective, I dislike the word “limitation”. It goes against every spiritual cell in my body. From the spiritual perspective, we are all perfect. Pain is an illusion. But as physical beings too, we experience a host of issues that seem totally contrary to one’s spiritual essence.

Until recently, I had a really hard time coming to terms with my obvious limitations that began immediately following my daughter’s suicide in 2005 and grew increasingly disruptive to my life over the years. Because we hear the phrase “return to normal” all the time after tragic loss and are conditioned to believe this is the best remedy to overcome grief, a great many limitations – both physical and mental – arise from any griever striving to reach a sense of “normalcy” again that is simply not possible. Especially for those dealing with complicated grief. Continue reading “Understanding Limitations in Grief”

Kindness in Grief

Being kind and respectful to one another. Wow, what a concept. In general, we have a really difficult time with this. In grief, both are painfully absent in many relationships, but this is most obvious in the intimate ones we share with a partner or other close family member. There are a host of reasons for this, but mainly, because no one in a partnership or other family relationship experiences the many symptoms of grief in the same way or time, conflict between loved ones is never far away. Striving for personal balance in all things can seem like an endless search and struggle. It can feel like there’s always something out of whack.

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Mastering Fear in Grief

Universal laws teach that everything in life is orchestrated in divine and right timing. I know it doesn’t always feel this way when we are suffering. It can be difficult to trust that we’re going to be okay when faced with challenge after challenge, which is how it often feels in grief.

Whatever difficulty you may be facing right now, if you are feeling anxious and fearful because doors aren’t opening fast enough or in the way you think they should, do not despair. Here are a couple of things to consider: Continue reading “Mastering Fear in Grief”

Self-Forgiveness in Grief

In grief, making choices to move forward, which is necessary for healing to occur, sometimes depends on how willing we are to forgive ourselves past decisions and actions. Guilt can hold us to doing things the same way and having the same thoughts for a long time. This is especially true if we are concerned that the decisions we need to make to kick start the change we desire may hurt someone else, especially those closest to us. Every decision we make affects our immediate loved ones.

As a griever, we can do some crazy things. I absolutely advocate that it is the right of every individual to decide what they need all of the time and that they have the freedom to make the appropriate choices to follow their path. Especially right after loss. However, in grief (especially complicated grief), because the journey is so twisted and complex, what we think we want and need at one point along the path may be entirely different from what we would have chosen at a later point.

If you are struggling with guilt or regret over a decision you made earlier, you could be keeping yourself from moving forward in a positive way today. Stop beating yourself up. Past actions belong in the past. It’s never too late to change your mind about the way you can and will do things today.

When you act with integrity every step of your journey in grief, there’s never a decision or action that requires forgiveness from others. Only from you for you. Be kind to yourself (being kind to others will naturally follow). Love you for who you are and everything you have and are experiencing. Forgive yourself any perceived wrongdoings. Remember, you’re going through a lot. Sometimes you’re going to act a little crazy. It’s also important to remember that all of your decisions, when they are made from the heart, are the right ones for you at exactly the right time. All of your steps are leading you somewhere, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Throughout my own grief, I found that people have come and gone from my life (and sometimes come back again). There have been ups and downs, turns and twists. I have always felt a tugging in my heart to make every decision I’ve made, even those that I would not make today. All of them have kept me on my path to heal. All have taught me invaluable lessons. I have also found that the better choices inevitably outnumbered the questionable ones. Looking back, I wouldn’t change any of them.

If you find you are struggling with a past situation that was a direct result of a decision you made, be gentle with yourself. Give yourself a hug. If you are in early grief, trust that your decisions will become more focused as you gain clarity through healing, and restore balance to your life. If you are in later grief, same thing. No matter where we are in our grief journey, maintaining inner balance is necessary.

The more you can feel tenderness and love for yourself, the easier it will be to forgive yourself. Which simply put, means freeing yourself from any blame and guilt you feel for any past actions.

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