Moving forward is not moving on, let’s get that straight.
They’re entirely different things, especially when it concerns grieving. Moving on means moving past, leaving it behind. Moving forward means not getting stuck. Allowing life to go on, as it does, regardless of our level of participation. But not leaving our unprocessed grief behind.
Sometimes, we think that going on with life is a betrayal of our loved one or says that we aren’t grieving. Not so. We may never move on, but life requires us to move forward. Hold that thought as you read on:
Make your grief a no judgment zone
Grief is a path we walk alone. Sure, others may also grieve the same loss. We may talk about our grief with those others. Be careful not to judge your own feelings by how someone else is handling theirs. Our own grief is individual to us and comparisons aren’t helpful.
“You should be over it by now.”
No, no, no. Grief takes as long as it takes. Don’t let others tell you different and don’t judge yourself: there is no such thing as too short or long. There’s only how long it takes YOU. There is no standard timetable. It’s different for everyone.
At the same time, you may have children to care for, a job or other responsibilities. It is entirely possible to take some time to grieve and still make sure your responsibilities are covered. Ask for the help of family and friends. Most of our loved ones want to be helpful but may be afraid to ask.
Take bereavement leave–as much as you can. Allow others to give to you. And if you feel that mourning continues to consume and paralyze you so much that you are unable to carry on your responsibilities to yourself and others,, reach out for professional help.
WHAT NOT TO DO
If you supervise others, here’s something to consider: a friend had to cope with the death of two nuclear family members in the same month. Different weeks, different reasons. Both deaths were sudden and shocking. One was entirely unexpected and way too young.
My friend ended up taking several weeks of bereavement leave for funerals, travel and dealing with the shock and estate matters. Later that year, she applied for vacation time. Her boss refused it, telling her “I think you’ve taken enough time this year.”
Cold. Bereavement leave is not vacation. If you manage others, please do understand this.
You can’t hide from it
It’s there. You have to feel it. Maybe you grieve quietly or maybe you sob out loud with an entire box of tissues. It’s all grief. I sob messily for a while and then go quiet with my grief. Doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
I’m five years into a grief that can still bring tears to my eyes. Three years into another. And ..I could go on. So yes. It’s there and it sticks.
And by the way, grief will not kill you, although it can certainly feel that way. Eventually, you will be able to resume the activities you did before your loved one died. You will be able to enjoy yourself without guilt one day.
None of it means you aren’t grieving your loved one. It means that life requires us to be in it and when you are ready, you’ll be in it again. It may not feel like you will. But you will.
Airing the emotions
My own grief informed the gentle, support tools offered here, tools that have helped so many in their grieving process. The journal and card deck recognize that we can not stuff our feelings–we MUST feel our way through them. To let those feelings out in whatever way we can.
Sometimes we don’t want to talk about it. I was that way with the loss of my beloved soulmate dog, Riley. Did. Not. Want.To. Talk. About. It. It was just too painful. Could not talk about it.
Or we think that our friends and family are sick of hearing us grieve to them. Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t–either way, though, grieving must take its course and your feelings must be aired. Which is something I want everyone to understand. Because the more we stuff our feelings, the more they control us.
If you’re lucky enough to be someone others share their grief with I can’t encourage you enough to listen with a loving ear. If you are grieving and don’t have an outlet, what I’m about to show you is even more important:
This is a page from our Guided Journal through Grief. Each page has a meditation, an activity or a prompt like this one, that helps you get those feelings out. You don’t have to write; you can draw, paint, collage, paste pictures–whatever works. It’s cathartic and those who have received the journal say it’s helpful in their grieving process.
There are 50 gentle and affirming grief cards in each Transforming Grief deck. Pull one each day as a meditation tool or thought for the day.
You might be surprised at how affordable the journal ($15.95) and cards ($14.95) are. And that they are included in two beautiful and affordable condolence gift packages I offer ($19.99 and $34.99). A sensitive and helpful grief gift for anyone.
Find them right here.
I’ve found making peace with death difficult, but as I age, it’s clear that I must. It’s a comfort that I believe life goes on after death and I’ve had plenty of evidence of that. Making peace with death? I am a work in progress.
I leave you today with one of my favorite Storypeople prints.
All of our supportive grief tools can be found right here.