Good Grief

As an Oncology Social Worker in a clinic, I humbly witnessed patients in a constant dance with life and death.

When a patient transitioned to spirit form, a few family members returned to the cancer center with stories of the patient’s passing. Some left this world in peace and others left this world kicking and screaming.  

The grief process is a similar journey. It starts with an invitation to accept and understand – or to leave the present moment and live in old stories and past relationships.

Dry forest path

Grief entered my life through the loss of some beautiful souls these past few months. At random times of the day, I would cry, forget my thoughts and become uncomfortably quiet. Part of my recovery and return to everyday life included the sending of quotes and virtual hugs to the bereaved. Also, I completely surrendered to the emptiness and loss, knowing that this was a temporary experience.  

How do you grieve? In my workshop, The 5 T’s of Grief: Embracing Your New Voice, participants learn to use ritual as a gentle way of reaching in and out of themselves for healing. May these 3 tips find their way into your heart and support you in a time of loss.

  1. Testing. The road of grief is demanding. Reminders of your loved one are everywhere. You may feel there is no escape from the suffering. Instead of reliving the pain, use the moment to imagine a way for you to hold this person one more time from a place of love. Speak out loud to your loved one. Tell him/her how you celebrate their presence in your life. Tell him/her how you appreciated their lasting gifts to the world. Here, you are moving beyond “tested” and into “transformed.”
  2. Touching. Grief drains us of already depleted inner resources. We are tugged in so many directions. Then, we add loss to the pile of distractions. This time, however, we have no way of believing we are able to put ourselves back together. Where will the energy come from and how soon? Build the energy of love. Witness how love grows in and around you.  Watch it fill in the gaps. Actively seek hugs. Reach out and hold hands. Get a massage or energy treatment.
  3. Turning. Grief contains natural points of intensity which transition to acceptance. At some point, we realize we need to return to the world without our loved one. We must turn towards people and activities that allow us to feel alive, express ourselves with joy and wake up our lungs and senses.

These relationships and rituals may be tried and true or new and inspiring. Regardless, our inner spark begins to light up a little more each day above the pain and sadness.

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