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Dealing with Grief: Ride the Wave

Dealing with Grief: Ride the Wave

One of the reasons I wanted to write a blog was to share my own experiences and lessons I’ve learned through my own life and from working with my clients.  I hope by sharing it will help other people dealing with similar issues. I had planned this month’s blog to be about goal setting and being successful with new years resolutions.

Life however, had other plans.

Early in January, my mom passed away after living with Alzheimer’s for many years. Her passing was not a shock, and even a relief in some ways but of course, there is still a grieving process.

I’ve tried several times over the past few weeks to write about goal setting, and each time I sat down, I just couldn’t focus on the topic. Not wanting to skip a blog, I decided to write about grief instead. We all experience loss, at varying times and in different ways.

How and when grief hits us has no schedule and can’t always be predicted.

The older I get, the more I see adaptability as a crucial asset to life and our health. I believe I am adapting to my current life circumstances by being flexible with the topic I’m writing about. I am not allowing myself to throw in the towel completely or skip the blog, although if I really needed to do that, I would. But that is not what I need, so instead I will alter this months topic.

If you are grieving the loss of something or someone, I hope you will be kind to yourself and be adaptable.

You can’t have the same expectations of yourself when grieving.

That doesn’t mean abandon all responsibility (that would be all or nothing thinking), but be flexible and kind with yourself. Ask for help from friends or family when you need it. I’ve seen how much people really do want to help if they can, let them!

Everybody grieves in their own way, at their own time.

Try not to question what you feel, or what you don’t feel. Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just are. I have days/moments where I feel fine and like myself and I have days/moments where I feel sad and weepy, both are OK.

Grieving takes time and like all emotions it ebbs and flows.

The best thing we can do with our emotions is learn to surf, because emotions truly are like waves that will rise up, crest and then recede. It is when we resist them that they actually become stronger and stick around longer, so try to ride the wave. I know it can be scary, especially with painful emotions, but it benefits us to allow what arises.

There are many different types of loss: death, divorce, miscarriage, break ups, losing a friend or job, chronic illness, to name a few.

Loss is loss, and grief is grief.

Please don’t compare your loss to others. It is one thing to maintain perspective and to realize things could be worse and it’s another to minimize your experience because other people are dealing with “worse”. I think it’s also important to realize that we don’t just grieve for the past memories but often for the future we’ve lost with that person, place or object as well.

If you break up with a person you thought you were going to marry, you grieve for the relationship that has ended but also a dream for the future has ended as well. Self-compassion is always a therapeutic prescription in my office. No matter what the loss is, give yourself the same sympathy you would give to a friend or relative going through similar.

I’d also like to mention indirect loss, when a friend or relative is grieving something. You may not be impacted directly, but you may still feel sad or a sense of the loss. Another example is the sudden tragic loss this week of Kobe Bryant. People across the world are feeling shocked and saddened by his sudden passing. It doesn’t matter that most of us have never met him. Again, whatever you may feel, or not feel, is just right for you. Ride the wave.

Most of what we experience or feel is universal or at least relatable to many.

By sharing my experience, I hope someone will read it, relate to it and allow themselves to be kinder and more adaptable to what life has given them. If you, or someone you know, are grieving and in need of support and guidance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Kathy Most
Therapist in Westfield, NJ
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