Grieving is feeling a loss. It can indeed be physical death, but doesn't need to be. It can be any death, including a way of feeling, thinking, believing, or being ~ or the way we thought "life was supposed to go". For some, anything we were "attached to" physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually and in this case, a person might be going through a spiritual initiation called a "dark night", "rotting", "emptiness" or "crucifixion".
Grief can be brought about by the loss of a home, other material comforts, infertility, illness, a job, divorce, loss of relationships for any reason, loss of a way of life, addiction, incarceration, or even minor losses. How anyone copes with grief and loss depends on many factors including how much support is available, what the other stresses are at the time, our personal beliefs, and our ability for resilience (again most likely based on the situation and other stress).
In the case of death, circumstances around that death can make the process more difficult; such as a child dying, a sudden unexpected event, or violence. There may be feelings of guilt or shame and wondering what we could have done differently to prevent this from happening. "Survivor's Guilt" makes the whole process more difficult, but is very normal.
Grief can be emotionally overwhelming. Many times, just getting through the day; eating, getting dressed, or doing simple tasks can be difficult. Denial and isolation usually happens as a first step and is also quite normal ~ choosing to retreat inside ourselves and not wanting to talk about how we are feeling to others and isolating to create a safe place or buffer between ourselves and the rest of the world as we dive inward for healing. We are much like a wounded animal, crawling and curling up in a bush, and licking it's wounds.
Feeling our Feelings ~ Helps them to Flow
Honoring Our Feminine Energies Within
"Plutchik-wheel" by Machine Elf 1735 - Own work.
Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Plutchik-wheel.svg#/media/File:Plutchik-wheel.svg
We all ~ whether men or women ~ have masculine and feminine energies in varying degrees within. I'll speak to this more as time unfolds, but it's important to recognize that during this very outward masculine DOing cycle on this planet, inward/emotional journeys have not been as supported as well as many of us would like. In the psychological world, it once was believed that feelings create thoughts, and now it's mostly believed that feelings come from thoughts. However, most of us who are intuitively connected know that feelings often come from that intuitively or spiritually connected place.
Inward, BEing, and flowing emotional energy is feminine and it certainly seems time to honor that energy more than we have to create a better world. This will provide the time, space, and support that we all need at various times and degrees to travel inside for strength, renewal, and connectedness to spirit. Until this happens more in our society, it's easy without support, to get stuck in the inner and lower wheel of emotions through resistance ~ rather than flowing the feelings and more easily moving them to the outer, and upper levels.
No Grief Rule Book Exists
There are no hard or fast rules to the grieving process. Every person must do this in their own time and in their own way... and it does take time. Overall most people do it in stages and listed below is a guideline. However, it's important to remember there is no "right" or "wrong" way. Sometimes, if the person is unwilling to let go of their idea of how life was "supposed to be", they can go back to previously concluded stages and repeat them over and over until they are complete. Sometimes, stages will be entirely skipped and not necessary for that person. Just know there is no "one size fits all" formula.
Like all experiences in life, we eventually have to push past isolation and denial ~ yet everyone must listen to their own heart and rhythm and be guided through this process within ~ giving ourselves time and space ~ but also doing our best to not get stuck in sorrow. Our brains have neuropathways upon which the information travels, and unfortunately, if a thought, feeling, belief, or behavior (action) happens too often, we can become programmed to repeat it over and over again. We can program ourselves for pain as much as we can for love or joy. Wanting something to happen, despite reality, is often what causes us to do this.
We are very blessed if we have someone to talk to who will be empowering, accepting, and/or validating of these stages and the necessity of them. However, the bottom line, is that what is most important in all of it is self love and that includes not being around others who don't honor all of our emotions, particularly if we are efforting to be accountable for our experience. We are humans here, and we do have emotions, and trying not to have them, is going into a state of "resistance" and that makes suffering all the more intense at a later date when we may be forced to deal with things in a very difficult fashion.
Optimally, if we can:
Allow our feelings to emerge ~ including anger ~ and not take it out on anyone ~ including ourselves (with judgment, blame, criticism);
Strive to not get entirely lost in sorrow ~ thinking, believing, and feeling we will never feel good again and maybe then creating that, we will make it through and not get stuck in what Christina Rasmussen who wrote the book "Second Firsts" calls "The Waiting Room". (This is a wonderful book and website with much support / information about this process, no matter the reason for the grief).
The process can unfold in a much more graceful way.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified these stages and termed them DABDA.
I spoke of this before as the first emotion to arise. We don't want to believe it, don't want to talk about it and isolate. We would much rather stay with our "preferred reality".
It's normal to feel angry. After the initial shock has dissipated, we can feel angry at ourselves or others that it occurred, we can feel life to be entirely "unfair", ask "Why me?", "Who is to blame?". We can just plain be angry it happened at all. It's so important in this stage that we not take it out on others, or even on ourselves ~ but find a safe way to feel it so that it can release naturally. Pent up anger is a recipe for disaster. Don't try to be "nice" and push it down, but don't take it out on others or hurt yourself by not eating, sleeping, etc. either. Go for a brisk walk somewhere where there's no one around and yell loud, punch a pillow, but mostly feel your anger and it will release more rapidly than trying to be "perfect" through something really tragic. The more you allow yourself to be human, the faster the emotions will heal.
Once we realize that we can't continue to live in denial, we become angry or frustrated, especially at others we deem are to blame. When this doesn't work, we then try bargaining. We don't want to feel the emotions and grief, so we try to help others and again postpone feeling our emotions ~ when if we just stop resisting, it will go by a lot faster. We may bargain with others in our life or God and promise to make changes, IF we can just have it the way we want it to be and not feel the pain. We may seek compromise with our partner if the loss is a threat of divorce or separation, etc.
Once we move through anger and bargaining, usually comes a type of sadness or depression. We may feel numb and hopeless or helpless to the loss and think things like, "What's the point going on?". We may start to see that we will also die and wonder why to bother with anything anymore. We might isolate even more, become entirely silent, and not want to see anyone.
Again, it's important we feel all our feelings and allow them to stay flowing ~ in motion ~ e-motion ~ so they don't get stuck in our system. Depression is just the call to a time of "deep rest". Seek out supportive friends / family members who will validate and allow you this passage without judgment or fixing. If they are not available, be sure to give this to yourself. There is no "bad" or "wrong" emotions. All that shock, anger, etc. takes a lot out of a person on an energetic level, and it's important to honor the need to now just be in sadness to move to acceptance.
When we are finally ready to come to terms with what's occurred and accept, then we can truly let go and move on. We can't complete the process without acceptance. We may say, "I'm ready to get through this now", "I can't do anything about it, so I must move forward", etc. Many times this stage comes with a stronger and renewed sense of trust again in our higher power ~ whatever we call it ~ that everything is alright, maybe even planned? Maybe it was just time and our soul knows and it's time to to integrate our soul understanding with our human ego personality's perspective? When acceptance is reached and integrated, there is usually a calm feeling present and the ability to review the entire picture better.
The grief process can appear as a journey on a dark, deserted road at night in the desert. An experience that must be done from the inside and alone ~ sometimes with no headlights. We don't know how long this journey will take. We are just driving and will know when we know. When people ask too many questions, "What are you going to do?", "Where will you live?", "Should you just get a better job?", "Isn't it time to let go of the past and move forward?", it's important to forgive them ~ for they know not. A good reply would be, "I'm in inner silence now and need time, space, and support for that. I'm good with it and hope you will be also". If we can say this, with love and acceptance for ourselves and our emotions ~ all of them ~ it will indeed be a shorter and easier process. Knowing the stages of this process, can be most helpful to keep ourselves on the road and not off in a ditch, unable to get out.
This article was written in the hope to help you, or someone you love, to know that emotions are expected and the more you allow the process to unfold, in your own time and way, the easier it is. Overall, many times completing the grieving process requires moving out of fears and being willing to truly "Let go and let God", knowing there was a plan to why the experience occurred and that one day, we will know for certain. We just need to choose to live again.
Many blessings to your continued life and love!