What does it mean to engage with our grief?
The way we engage with our grief is a good way to measure if we are grieving in a healthy way, according to Hanna Helms, Hospice Social Worker. Helms explains that a lot of unhealthy grieving habits arise from trying to escape grief, and the pain that comes with it.
But still, why is grief a gift?
Grief can become a gift when we actively chose to engage with it. For example, when we make the choice to sit quietly and just let ourselves cry, we get the relief of noticing our feelings. If we don’t allow ourselves to be aware of how we are feeling, we don’t even give ourselves a chance to heal.
Grief is the forerunner of healing
We can think of our emotions as messengers, just like physical pain is a messenger of something wrong physically. Imagine the pain of loss to be compared to the pain of a broken bone. The pain of the broken bone is saying “hey, there is something wrong here, and your attention is needed!” Well, our minds and psyche are not so different. When we experience loss, it can trigger an emotional response that says “Hey, there is something missing that I care about! Can I have your attention please?”
The problem is, sometimes the pain messenger is so great, we can’t bear to engage with it, to fully experience it. When that is the case, says Helms, we can break our grieving up into bite sized pieces, while also focusing on self-care. We can also use a dual process model.
What is a duel process model?
A dual process model is one that allows for us to engage with their grief, even if only briefly, while getting support to live day to day life. According to Helms, this can be especially important for caregivers, who are experiencing a secondary loss of grief.
What is a secondary loss of grief?
A secondary loss of grief is when a person has not only lost a person they care about, but they also have lost the purpose they had for their life. Caregivers can often experience a secondary loss of grief. Caregivers may ask themselves “Who am I now that the loved one I cared for is gone?” A person who has spent years of their life revolving around taking care of a loved one will often be left wondering what meaning their life now holds.
Self-care and grief
Self -care during a grieving period may not look like what you think it ought to. Our cultural narrative is often to be tough, if you are a man, and to be selfless, if you are a woman. How can we fulfill these expectations and still practice self-care? Especially when self-care looks like taking more time to grieve than what society’s standard’s expectations allow? There are no time limits or expectations to grief; however, when it comes to our culture, there most certainly are. That’s why self-care is so important. And so is building a caring community.
Having a caring community around you can give you the strength or support to get through difficult times, like grieving. A caring community can be a local support or bereavement group, it can be a prayer group, a group of friends and neighbors, family, and even us here at Unified Caring Association. We are also here to help.
What ever kind of support you choose to surround yourself with, The American Psychological Association recommends talking with others, as it can help you process your grief. Remember that denying your grief only further creates a sense of isolation. So, give yourself the gift of engaging with your grief. It’s not an easy journey, but it leads to healing.
Like what you read? Check out more UCA blog posts:
Giving Helps Promote Happiness https://unifiedcaringcommunity.com/category/connecting/