Grief is a biological and emotional/psychological healing process. We go through it to process our losses, regardless of their nature. Those who open themselves to grief, experience emotional and even physical pain. As no grieving process is alike, some might experience it more intensely than others. While some connect more easily with anger and guilt, others might struggle to feel anything other than deep sadness. While there is no right way of grieving, its healing power is universal.
Unfortunately for those who agree on the benefits of grieving, awareness alone does not make connecting with this process any easier. Thinking it is a good idea to go grieve does not lead you there. Listening to sad songs might not trigger it either. That is because grief is sneaky, it hits you when you least expect – when you are clothes shopping or eating your dinner, for instance. It is also slippery; it escapes your grip when all you want is to control it.
To access the healing power of grief, you need to nurture a mindful attitude to the changes you experience in your body. Bodily sensations carry precious information not only about our physiology, but also about our feelings. Sadness and anger – grief’s main emotions – have their way of expressing themselves. Think about how you feel when you experience both. Make a mental inventory of the negative bodily sensations you connect with feeling sad, such as heaviness in your upper body, pressure in your chest and feeling like you have a lump in your throat and tears behind your eyes. Do the same with anger.
Once that knowledge is at the front of your awareness, it will be hard not to connect with grief when it strikes. As you notice its presence, turn your attention to it. Drop what you are doing and sit with it, literally. If for any reason that is not possible – you are at work or busy with something important – make a mental note to connect with it later. Do not leave it for another day but make time for feeling what comes up – whether it is anger, sadness or guilt – as soon as you can.
Taking time to grieve when you notice its presence is the best strategy to heal. An honest and proactive attitude also helps you through your healing journey. Approaching your grieving process with openness and without shame supports mental health and sets a wonderful example of maturity and strength to those who are influenced by you.