You want to be well and happy again. You do!! But with triggers tucked into every corner of life’s busy-ness you’re convinced you simply can’t get over it.
Whether loss comes suddenly or gradually, grief (and the time it takes to move through it) remains the same. Painful. Arduous. At times suffering itself may seem like a perpetual inevitability.
You’ve listened to all the advice. Hell, you may have even followed some of it.
Friends and family have done their level best to support your process. But they, much like you, wear out under the stress of it all. You get it.
It’s been X weeks, months or years. The arbitrary, “enough already” deadline has come and gone.
You feel, in your heart, the depths of your loss may just be your new normal because you simply cannot see a way out of the quagmire of your emotions.
You recognize the, “oooooh,” expression of recognition when you’re introduced to new people, “you’re the one they talk about.”
Your grief became your brand. A virtual calling card to associates, old and new alike.
Somewhere along the way the pain stopped being something you experienced, it became who you are.
Take heart, My Lovely. Your chance to heal, grow – even thrive – never had an expiration date. Let alone passed it.
The problem is, no one has ever taught you how to transition through loss consciously. Platitudes like “time heals all wounds,” taught you to just put your head down and get through life. You believed that, in spite of the pain, healing would take care of itself with enough distance. That’s not how it works.
Healing is a process not an event. The transition from who you were to who you want to be takes conscious attention.
The shifts you need in perspective are small yet profound. Use these 6 tips for coming out the other side of your pain every time you’re struck with the thought that you’ll never get over it. The grace within the practice will accelerate your healing in fundamental ways.
1. Time PLUS Attention Is Key
Rid yourself of any “should’ve been over this by now” notion you may have.
Time will pass. That’s all time has the capacity to do. There’s no magical healing properties of time on its own. Time offers nothing at all in the way of deliberate intention.
Likewise, the past offers few guarantees about the future. Just because you haven’t “gotten over it” yet doesn’t mean you won’t at some point. Believe that nonsense and you run the risk of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Don’t unintentionally prove yourself right.
Your mind and body needs time AND attention. Just like physical pain exists to alert you to a problem that needs your focus, emotional pain cries for your loving caress as well.
Meditate, walk, journal. Whatever takes you inward for some genuine care-taking of your soul, DO IT. Find grief’s home in your body. Sit down with it. Hear it out. Let it cry it’s eyes out or shout from the rooftops, whatever it needs.
When caterwauling’s final throes dim simply be with whatever is left within you. In your mind’s eye treat the visualized chunk of history within you like a friend or child that needs your unconditional love.
No judgement allowed. Your pain deserves your loving attention more than anything else.
2. Allow Grief To Evolve
The grief process looks like a “one and done” kind of transition but it’s not; healing is iterative.
Rather than view the process as a linear progression, think of it as an upward moving spiral. On each side of the spiral you have part of the process (denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, acceptance). You may go completely around the first rung to find your acceptance morphed right back into denial. Yesterday you actually felt moments of wholeness and today it feels like a farce!
While each stage may be the same YOU are different. You’ve moved through this stage before.
Between then and now you’ve had insights and growth.
You’ve made commitments to yourself and your life while moving through the process the first time.
You’ve progressed up the spiral and are more empowered than before.
Allow yourself to move up the spiral without judgement. What looks like repetition or feeling “stuck” is really the opportunity to strengthen your foothold in the future you desire.
Keep a journal of the whole, happy moments. Anger will roll back around and you’ll want to reference them. Grow the list with moments, big and small, as you heal. You’ll have dynamic proof that you’re made of more than your misery.
3. Recognize Grief’s Underpinnings
Tell someone you’re grieving and people immediately imagine the biggies: death, divorce and job loss. Guess what? You’ve lost consistently through your life in ways deemed normal rites of passage. Toddlerhood, adolescence, and moving neighborhoods, for example, came with opportunity cost. In order for you to say, “hello,” to independence or growth you simultaneously said, “goodbye,” to comfort and perceived assurances.
Chances are good no one explained your reactions to you or gave you many tools to manage your emotions. By default your pain informed your self- and world views.
When you’re in so much pain you believe you can’t get over it try, instead, to dig into it. Is it more than the most recent drastic change in your life that affects you? Perhaps feelings of betrayal, abandonment or helplessness from previous, unaddressed losses arise. Maybe you, like most of my clients, don’t yet feel empowered to grow through your most immediate loss. But if grief’s structure is built on the foundation of previous, smaller experiences you can certainly chip away at the underpinnings!
Need more powerful tools than you currently have? Learn some! Conscious Transitions is specifically designed to walk you through hardship and, ultimately, be empowered by it. There are thousands of books on the subject. Ask your friends the specifics of their own healing. Hire a coach and/or therapist for a more objective point of view.
4. Make Room For Healing And Pain
One of the biggest obstacles to mending your soul is the notion that your pain and your healing are mutually exclusive.
You know those glimpses of joy you have? Then you’re suddenly struck by your audacity to feel lightness considering the dark abyss left by your loss still exists. That guilt is fueled by the idea that you’re not allowed to have both experiences:
- heartache and
You may not (yet) be able to choose your happiness over everything. But you CAN embrace the joyful moments in your life. Treasure your happy moments, not in spite of everything you’ve lost but because of it. After all, only gratitude and bereavement can teach you how precious every moment truly is.
Loving life doesn’t invalidate your loss. Love of life gives meaning and utility to every painful experience you’ve ever had. Gratitude, presence, forgiveness, compassion. They’re all practiced and developed through experiences. .
There will be times when feel the ache of the chasm between what is and what you once had. Simply remember that the capacity for peace remains inside you as well. When comfort and happiness express themselves, welcome them in. They know they’re sharing space with your grief. That’s why they came.
5. Invite Grief To Stay If It Wants…
…on the condition that it agrees to evolve with you. See Tip 1!!
Truth be told devastation doesn’t go anywhere. It cannot be replaced by the feel-good emotions that keep arriving with their boxes, intent to move in and share space. Try to kick it out of your heart and it will break down the doors, kicking and screaming to be heard. Heartache can, however, learn to make Harmony, Love and even Joy roommates. Eventually, it will see the benefits of laughter, of reminiscing, of cherishing today’s gifts.
Grief learns over time that it is allowed to feel what it needs to without trying to make everything else feel the same way. Suffering softens to pain. Pain softens to ache. Ache becomes the reminder you need to stay present to the gifts that continue to arrive in your life.
6. Let Others Off The Hook
You know how to help friends dealing with grief so where they hell are they now when you need it?!
Friends, family and coworkers mean well. At some point, though, they:
- don’t get it,
- run out of ways to be helpful,
- don’t know what to say or say all the wrong things,
- stop inviting you.
- They may even be bitter that you haven’t followed their advice to, “just get out there,” or “just get over it.”
Graciously move on. Consider it one of your steps to forgiving yourself and others.
Love them right where they are and you’ll learn to do the same for yourself.
I know the deep sense of betrayal that comes with prolonged heartache.
You miss your old life. More importantly, you miss your old sense of self. The belief that you just can’t get over it turns that heartache into hopelessness. Thank goodness “I can’t get over it,” is just a mindset and not the truth!!
Bookmark this article. Discuss the tips with a friend until the ideas are engrained. You’ll quickly realize that “getting over it” is not nearly as important as making use of it. You’re growing, evolving and strengthening. You are consciously moving through the grief, making yourself better for the experience.