Welcome back to Part 3 in this series, How To cope With Grief. Previously in this series, we looked at what grief is, the importance of having supportive people in your life, and how to name the many emotions related to grief.
In this part of the series, we will look at and practice the skill of being curious and acknowledging the different aspects of grief at any given moment.
Like we explored previously, this year has been a year of loss. The list is long. We have lost loved ones. We have lost shelter. We have lost health and wellbeing. We have lost income. We have lost experiences. We have lost predictability. We have lost stability.
We have lost… all the things.
Just sit with that for a moment.
It is big. It is overwhelming. It is a lot.
Loss, like many things in life, has layers and different sides to it. It is rarely a simple thing. However, the intensity of the emotions related to loss can make it difficult to see those layers. Can you think of a moment in the last week where you noticed those big emotions of grief coming to the surface? I wonder what part or what layer of loss you were experiencing in that moment. For example, what part of your relationship with that person did you miss the most in that moment? Was it his kind words when you felt stressed? Was it her smile when she greeted you at the end of a long day? If you are grieving the loss of a job, what aspect of your job did you miss in that moment? Was it the feeling of having structure and purpose in your day? Was it the regular connection with other people throughout the day? Can you get curious and specific about what you missed or grieved in that moment?
What about this moment, right now, can you pause and notice? What is there inside of you? Maybe you can’t. I get that. But see if you can. Can you be curious? What do you notice? Acknowledge that. Let it know that you see it. If being curious does not feel comfortable right now. That is OK. Acknowledge that, “This does not feel comfortable. I don’t want to do it.” Perhaps, this moment is not a safe moment to reflect. Can you make a commitment to check in with yourself at a later time? Think of a place or time in your day today that would be safe and allow space for you to reflect. If right now is a safe time and space, feel free to practice curiosity now.
As with most things, the more you practice being curious the easier it will become. You will probably discover that different emotions are linked to different layers of your grief and loss. Honor those layers of your loss by acknowledging them and not judging them. We don’t have to judge whatever is there. It is neither right nor wrong. It is simply your experience in this moment.
Before we end today, I want you to remember those people or practices that give you strength, that help you refocus and stand steady again. Can you remember them? Good. Feel free to reach out to that person or take a moment to do that mindful practice. Remember to be gentle with yourself today, and thank yourself for letting you see those emotions or those different layers of your loss.
Remember, you are not alone. Reach out to your support group or reference the resources from part 1 of this series, How To Cope With Grief: We All Need A Village. This exercise today is a practice I do with many of my clients. If it resonated with you, feel free to send me a message to discuss therapy. See you back here for the next part in the series. Take care.
Author: Lindsay Cade, LPC [she/her/hers] is a licensed mental health therapist with 7 years experience providing mental health services. Read more about Lindsay here or contact her today to discuss starting therapy.
Series Table of Contents
INTRO: HOW TO COPE WITH GRIEF: An Invitation
PART 1: HOW TO COPE WITH GRIEF: We All Need A Village
PART 2: HOW TO COPE WITH GRIEF: Name It
PART 3: HOW TO COPE WITH GRIEF: Be Curious
PART 4: HOW TO COPE WITH GRIEF: Practice Remembrance
PART 5: HOW TO COPE WITH GRIEF: Throw Away Your Grief Watch