Grief is a heavy word because its weight can be felt every time you read or hear it. Grief means deep sorrow that arises from what feels like an irreplaceable loss. It is hard to handle whether you are the one grieving or you are around someone who is.
While you might associate grief with the loss of a parent, a partner, a child, or a sibling to death, grief also happens from loss of a job you identified with, a marriage, heavy financial loss, loss of a body part, and most definitely the death of a pet.
You have to take the time to mourn them all.
Because grief feels burdensome, you might try to hurry the process. Mourning is more than people dressed in black, wearing dark glasses, boarding a flight, attending a “celebration of life” event, and flying back the same evening.
What happens after the guests have left? It’s not only the death of a loved one. It’s a life that’s become only a series of memories, and they are yours alone.
When you share your grief, others will get it only if they have experienced the same loss or a similar experience.
You are the one intimately attached to what’s gone and are now left with a huge vacuum, which at that time feels like it will never be replaced.
People can say to you, "I am sorry for your loss", and leave it at that. Out of the kindness of their heart, someone might say, “Let me know how I can help you,” and then mildly regret saying that because now they have responsibilities they did not anticipate.
Because mourning any loss isn't part of anyone’s yearly goals, it feels overwhelming. No matter what the loss is, you have to sit with it and process it before you can release your pain.
How long should grief last?
There cannot be an expiration date on grief. Grief does not come with an agenda. You will experience grief until you have either stuffed it in the corners of your unconscious mind or you have processed it and transformed that energy.
When you stuff grief, it becomes part of your persona. Although you may not recognize it, the decisions you make will always come from the grieving heart.
When you lose a job or a house, you will actively grieve until you get another job or house. When you go through a divorce, or the death of a beloved, you will grieve until you find another relation.
But think about a pet who passed away. You might get a new pet, but do you ever stop loving the old one? Unless you have grieved it enough and processed that pain, that grief doesn’t go away.
The bottom line is, your grief will last until you have replaced your loss with something equivalent or better.
What should you expect when you are mourning the loss of a loved one?
In the modern urban and suburban world, we live very busy lives. And when it comes to grief, we toss it aside. Most people want to stay away from people who are still grieving the loss of a loved one.
When you are the one mourning the loss of a loved one, you either feel left alone or you try to stay busy with being busy without knowing exactly what to do next.
I once heard a “teacher” say to a lady who was mourning her husband who passed away ten years ago, “Ten years is too long a time to hold on to someone dead.” Ouch!
Grieving is quite personal. It’s not like pregnancy where you have an estimated time frame or the dentist’s advice of brushing twice a day for three minutes each. Mourning is more than that.
Grief is personal and intimate. Mourning is not a luxury, time to mourn is not a wastage. Just like you take the time to celebrate, you must take the time to grieve, to mourn.
When you have heard all the "I’m sorry"s, you find yourself alone with your grief. Alone, you sit with your emptiness.
If your friends suggest a drink, avoid it. Alcohol is a known depressant. And that one glass is never enough. The more you drink, the sadder you feel. And the sadder you feel, the more you drink.
All your memories, your emotions, the things you said and left unsaid, the “I love you,” the “I’m sorry” they all come rushing in. You spiral downward and don’t even know it.
Why does grief feel so heavy?
Grief arises out of attachment to what you lost. Each loss — whether it’s your job, house, finances, or marriage — are all equally serious losses that deserve to be grieved.
Emotions hang around in clusters. When you are grieving, you are accessing all the past sorrows and losses you haven’t completely mourned yet.
If there are any blame, shame, or guilt components attached to your loss, these heavy emotions weigh you down further.
Each emotion must be honored and you need to give each emotion some space individually.
Get breaking news & relationship advice delivered to your inbox daily!
Each emotion is energy in motion. When the energy is not in motion, you might feel lost, stuck, or overwhelmed. Grief counselors are a great help.
Today, grief is mostly tied to the death of an immediate relative. This is the area of expertise that most grief counselors are trained in.
How do you mourn the loss of something or someone other than a partner?
How do you mourn any loss that’s part of your identity? Society does not provide you a platform to grieve losses from divorce, job loss, bankruptcy, surgical removal of an organ or body part. How do you process this pain?
You have to take time off. Alternative medicine like yoga, meditation in a group or with a teacher, Reiki, healing through hypnosis, time in nature, spending time with dear friends who understand you, long regular walks, Chi-Gong, journaling, and so on, help.
You can engage in one or more of these activities. Make it part of your routine. Maintain the discipline to do them every day. You need to love yourself enough to get started each day.
Be vulnerable enough to find an accountability partner who will ensure you keep your promises to yourself.
Journaling is a great way to grieve and honor your loss. Grief means deep sorrow, and you can’t be done with what’s deep in a day. If you shove it down, it will pile up and hang out with other unprocessed sorrow.
Over time it weakens you. You don’t want to live with all your pain lurking in the crevices of your subconscious.
Emotional pain is the root cause of physical pain. The sooner you choose to work through your grief and return to life, the easier it will get. Without active mourning, grief lingers. Hurrying to replace a loss with something else, helps temporarily. Let that not be your story.
If you are looking for a healthier wholesome life, let someone trained in the art of grief counseling help you.
Keya Murthy, M.S. works as a Clinical Hypnotherapist, Spiritual Life Coach, and Healer at Ventura Healing Center. She has written eleven books and they are available on Amazon. In her book Adapting: A Journey Into Liberation, she shares her journey of how she grieved her losses of loved ones.