One of the hardest things with grief, besides grieving itself, is allowing ourselves to heal. Healing may sound close to impossible at first; A betrayal, a delusion, complete absurdity while suffocating from a pain that takes over our world. It can stop time, make every little part of daily life seem like a mountain to climb. Yet it can transform what you thought was problematic into a kindergarten math equation…
WILL I EVER FEEL NORMAL AGAIN?
Nothing matters but the love that now needs to be redirected. The love for your loved one that feels suspended in the cosmos, the love through all of your senses that are now at no good use. You find yourself searching, observing, weeping, agonizing, questioning for survival through this magnitude of love and grief to find answers on how to live without them. It’s terrifying and yet, for all of us an inevitable encounter.
It’s really difficult for all of us who have gone through grief to imagine ourselves “going back to normal life” as society may be pressuring us to do so. “Do you feel back to normal yet?” As some people have asked me; I don’t know how to answer that, I don’t know what that question means…What is the “normal” that people ever perceived, what can possibly be normal ever again after grieving a loved one? We will never go back to normal, grief is not a flu or a broken bone and that is so important for grievers or others on the other side to accept.
IT IS OKAY TO GRIEVE
We are allowed to profoundly grieve as long as it takes, as long as our hearts desire and we are also allowed to heal. We are allowed to find a juxtaposition of healing and grieving that finds a way to bind together. It’s an endless work, an endless journey that just like waves, is more intense than others, some will crash and some calmer waves will just be kissing the shore.
Grief can bring feelings out such as guilt, shame, remorse, darkness, extreme sadness, a no way out sensation…These feelings are for some of us very complex to navigate and we may wait to be down to our knees, with one last rotten cheese in the fridge and pizza boxes laying around or we can also do our best to gently pick ourselves up before we collapse.
The question is, how do we allow ourselves with no guilt to heal before grief peaks? Do we need grief to peak as a symbol, a ritual for our loved ones to know how much we cared? Maybe we need grief to peak because we ignored it for too long? Do we need grief to peak because we are lacking support? Do we need grief to peak to feel close to death, and close to them?
All these questions to me are valid, and there are ways to honor our grief and love without losing ourselves, no matter how impossible it might feel at times. Like a monkey holding onto a branch, we have to find our branch. What is your branch? -Is it your family, your friends, your career, your children, your parents, your spouse, your strength? your will? your therapist?
WE HAVE TO HEAL
I’ve grieved my brother, my mother and now, recently my stillbirth son. From all of these experiences with intense grief, one thing that came up very clearly for me was my tardiness in allowing myself to heal. Instead, I bathed in a pool of hurt…for too long. It can be close to insulting if anyone who hasn’t gone through grief tells me that I was hurting for too long, so maybe you might feel insulted yourself reading this, and I understand, at the end of the day, grief is very personal, it’s like a toothbrush; you can compare the colors and brittles but you don’t share it, at least I hope not… 🙂
But in our grief, we can’t forget about the love that we have for ourselves, the cliché of what “our loved one would want for us”, it is a very important and true question. What would they want? What do you want? It hurts in so many ways to be realistic that we need to continue living, that we need to keep going without them, what an unfair future but we still hold a future. Healing is not forgetting them: Healing is processing, feeling, finding comfort in little things that we can try to understand, creating rituals, exercising on different senses to believe they are still around us, armoring ourselves, feeling sadness, welcoming joy again, being gentle with ourselves and seeing a little light that one foot after the other gets a little brighter, very very gently…
HEALING CAN BE HARD
The main aspect of healing is not having the belief that it is to forget, to get over, to move on. Those mechanisms are blockers, easy ways out are often recommended by others who are uncomfortable by your OWN grief. You are the one with the discomforts of grief, no one else. A loved one that passed on does not deserve “to get over” but to be remembered as we find ourselves walking a path without them. It’s rocky and unstable but that’s healing.
Healing is talking about it, our brains heal when we release and find someone we can talk to, even if it’s a 1 min conversation with your bank teller that genuinely listens and empathizes, science has proved that it is incredibly healing to our trauma and grief.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HEAL?
Healing is creating rituals. There’s a reason why some cultures have rituals, needs to pay respect, traditions and celebration of life because it’s healing. It gives us a horizon of beliefs and an attachment to the ones we’ve lost. It gives us a way to communicate, engage and connect.
Healing is reading books about what you can relate to, finding yourself and guidance to move forward. Some people find great comfort in support groups. True healing can also be found in fellow humans that you can mirror with.
Healing is being brave to discover survivors of your pain, follow their lead, advice and take their hand. Grievers are often very willing to pick someone up who has suffered their pain. That’s because it’s healing to them and will be to you when it’s your turn to give a hand.
WHAT ELSE IS HEALING?
Healing is wanting to be okay even when it’s not okay and learning how both can coexist.
Healing is the acceptance that we can’t control death, life and death are mysterious and inevitable. Finding meaning and beauty in death as we find meaning in life…Learning what those are for us, what inspires us and what beliefs we can hold on to help us. Some work is researching, talking to role models, talking to wise people who have gotten a grasp of the uncertainties and mysteries of life. It can sometimes be found within yourself, and what it all means to you. Sometimes it is looking for signs and talking to our loved ones. Some work is finding how they are still with us.
Healing is strength and courage, you are strong and courageous and you are also hurting and in pain. They both can reside together.
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED A LOSS?
If you have experienced a stillbirth or other pregnancy loss, my heart aches for you. Know that you are absolutely not alone. There is no right or wrong way to navigate a loss so deep. You are welcome to use my code JULIEB for a free month’s subscription to the Poppyseed Health app. Visit www.poppyseedhealth.com for incredible resources on how to navigate your own invisible loss.
Read my blog on stillbirth and childhood loss here. In this blog, I share a story that I never hoped to tell.