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Chapel of the Valley
97 Vernon St.,
Roseville, CA 95678
Phone: (916) 797-1448
Fax: (916) 797-2002
Chapel of the Valley
97 Vernon St.
Roseville, CA US
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Grief is the natural and normal emotional, psychological and physical response to loss. The first thing to notice in this definition is that what you are experiencing is natural and normal. Yes, it hurts, and certainly no one wants to grieve. But when you do, realize that there is nothing wrong with you.
The second thing to notice is that grief happens in the whole of you: emotionally, psychologically and physically. You don’t feel like yourself. Something is off; something seems very, very wrong. This is all understandable. In grief there is a process. And in this process, over time, things will come back to center and fit together again, but in a different way. Grief changes you.
The grieving process is not linear or logical, and it is unique to each person. On the other hand, grief is one of the most common human experiences. So while our own experience is unique and personal, it is something that everyone can relate to in some way.
We have been taught in our society to avoid grief at all costs, don’t talk about it, and shut it down. This way of relating to grief is particularly unhelpful. You may experience this as you communicate with people about the death of your loved one. It may feel awkward; people may respond in ways that seem shallow and dismissing; some may avoid you altogether. Such people respond to you from their fear of your pain. This can be very difficult, and it is important to keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with you.
What Can I Do About Grief?
The short answer is that there is nothing to do. Grief is a process, a journey, a path to walk. Grief is similar to the healing of a wound: something happens that damages your body. You may treat the wound with antibiotics and bandages to protect it, but the healing occurs over time and it is a normal and natural process. You don’t have to do anything. Just like your body, your soul, heart and psyche respond to the injury you have experienced to heal it. This is what grief is. It IS the healing process.
It is understandable that you don’t want to feel this kind of loss and pain. The challenge in grief is to recognize that it is by going into and through the pain - experiencing it, expressing it, embracing it - that the healing comes. The only feelings that cannot change are the ones you refuse to experience. Without full expression over time, the energy of these powerful emotions remains within, and that is the true definition of suffering.
Grief is not something you get over; it is something you go through. Your “job” is to allow it to happen. There are things you can do to allow it to happen: the Practices of Being With Grief. These practices simply help you move through your grieving experience in a healthy way.
The first and most important practice is to tell your story. It is important to say what needs to be said. If you have a friend or family member who can sit with you and simply listen, ask for their support. It is important that this feels safe to you – that is, this person can be with you without trying to talk you out of what you are feeling, minimizing it or giving you advice (a rare quality, indeed). Sometimes you will need to actually teach someone what you need. For instance, make the request, “I just need you to listen to me. I’m not looking for advice or an opinion, I just have things I need to say to someone. Can you do that for me?” Also ask them to treat what you say as confidential.
Another way to tell your story is to write it. Journaling is a very valuable practice in being with grief. You do not need to share your journal with anyone. This is sacred.
Above all, be gentle with yourself.