“This too shall pass.” She said. “Umm, huh?! What does that even mean?” I thought, confused.
“I’m sorry for your loss.” He said. “It wasn’t your fault, but ok, I forgive you.” I thought, sarcastically.
“In time things will get easier..” She said. “I call BS. Can you guarantee me this?!” I thought, angrily.
“I lost my sister too, I totally get it.” He said. “Great, now on top of me being sad for my loss I feel sorry for you too.” I thought to myself, feeling even worse.
How many times have you heard a version of these phrases? How many times have you said them yourself thinking you were comforting someone?
If you have said any of these things I want to urge you to STOP. Right now.
The kindest thing you can do for someone in grief (and may I remind you that grieving does not just mean someone died, it can mean you lost your job, you’re going through a breakup, you had to move…with change comes loss and with loss comes grief) is to be there for them. I mean physically show up or physically pick up the phone and call. Let your friend talk to you, let your friend not talk, let your friend cry or laugh. Let them show up however they need to during that confusing time. AND, if you feel you must say something start by trying this; “I can't even imagine what you’re going through right now…”
As you know, I am a counsellor and a coach and if you’ve read some of my previous posts you know that I know grief. I have lost close family members, I have lost my job, my home, my husband, and also had to grieve the confusing loss of him passing away after we got divorced. I’ve lost friends, I’ve lost acquaintances all of which have been complicated and different in their own way with their unique level of impact.
I know grief, but I don’t know YOUR grief.
I don’t know how you are feeling. I don’t know what you are thinking. I don’t know how you are coping. And this is the kindest thing I can admit to you. You need to grieve your own unique way and it is not up to me to know how you do this.
You have 100% freedom to take as long as you need to, you have the freedom to bounce from acceptance to anger to depression to shock to acceptance a million times over. This loss is yours and you are allowed to change your mind and your feelings through this time as much as you need to. The time it takes you to grieve is yours and yours alone.
As a counsellor I can give you coping tools and techniques but never will I tell you HOW to grieve. All I will encourage you to do is feel whatever it is you need to feel, whenever you feel it. And, I will hold space for whatever comes up. I have learned myself that unless you grieve each loss fully and separately when they occur, the next time something major hits you, will be grieving all the unfelt and unexperienced losses from your past.
If you (or someone you know) are in the process of grieving right now, I want to encourage you to find some core people in your life who can quietly and lovingly hold space for you. I also want you to try to show up as authentic as possible during this time. No one expects you to suck it up and fake it until you make it. These are harmful messages that society throws at us to keep pushing through. Take your sick days. Take some holidays. Dedicate time to speak with a counsellor if you can, because this is a wake-up call for you to feel the loss and also recognize that you will never go back to who you were before. That can be a super hard one to swallow. It’s another thing to grieve in and of itself. This is where a counsellor can step in and help, you will forever be changed because of this loss but that is because your heart opened to love. You will forever have this person, experience or situation in your heart. You can cherish it, love it, and use it to become the person you’ve always wanted to be. Unfortunately, life doesn’t go backward. As much as I wish I could take away the pain of your loss and undo what happened I do not have that power.
The one thing I do know, from the grieving I have done, is that we will forever be changed but the change will be for the better if you seek out help and deeper connection. I promise. You don’t need to forget. All you need to do, when you’re ready, is to shift your energy back to you and decide to rise each day. Decide to take life back into your own hands, however messy it may look. You now know that you have the strength to get through the worst unimaginable pain possible. You have it in you, I believe in you and I am here to hold space for you. Just because people around you don't seem to “get it” doesn’t mean you need to go through this alone.
I would suggest taking a moment to read my previous post called “The Fastest Way To Cure Loneliness” and perhaps it will shift some perspective in you. Don't hesitate to reach out.
Don't hesitate to be yourself, however that shows up in any moment of the day.