Thursday, January 27, 2011

therapy thursday: the healing power of grief

Grief is not an easy thing to go through in any situation. It's also not an easy thing to talk about, but, I think, for several people in my life, that it's a necessary thing to talk about.

 {via we heart it}

We grieve for many things and in many different ways - some of us cry, some of us get angry, and some of us hold it in not wanting to deal with it or thinking that we have to be strong for someone else. But tears are not a sign of weakness when you're grieving. They are a sign of healing. What happens to those negative, sad feelings when you don't allow yourself to feel them? Imagine that you are blowing them into a balloon. Every time you felt sad, angry or unhappy you blew those feelings into your balloon. What happens to a balloon when you blow it up too big? It pops.

It is so much easier and better to grieve when the feelings arise, rather than wait for your balloon to pop and you're flooded with an overwhelming amount of emotion that you can't handle. When you allow yourself to feel the pain of the loss of a loved one - a parent, a child, a partner, a friend - you are allowing yourself to heal. Each time you feel sad, angry, hurt, or down, sit with that feeling and remember what you lost. Allowing yourself to feel those emotions allows you to take another step in the healing process.

And it's OK to talk about these feelings, in fact, it's part of healing too. Not talking about your emotions while you're grieving is just filling up your balloon. I tend to be a silent griever because I don't want to be a Debbie Downer/Negative Nancy/Sad Sally around other people, and I don't want them to feel uncomfortable talking about difficult situations and feelings. But the truth is, if your friends and family love you, they will be there for you to just listen or give advice. So find that person you can trust to just listen or the person who always gives you the best advice, and tell them what you need from them as you try to heal.

And if you are that person whom someone comes to talk about their grief, please don't say that you understand if you have never been through the same situation. I can't tell you what it's like to lose a parent, child, pet, or even grandparent, and I won't pretend to understand what that must be like, nor do I want to. But what I can do is listen. And that's what your loved one needs from you at that moment, just for you to listen. What you probably do understand are the emotions of a broken heart. So if you're asked, give advice on how you found the strength to heal. And just be there with a smile, a hug, a card, flowers, an email or phone call, anything that says you are there for them.

Loss is never easy. Grief is never pretty. And healing takes time. The only way to fully heal is to allow yourself to feel all of the negative emotions and to find someone who loves you to lend their ear. And if you don't like to talk about it, write what you're feeling in a journal. But just grieve. You will find peace.

Click here to read about the five stages of loss and grief (pay attention to the last paragraph).


Nikki said...

This is a great post. People grieve in all different ways, but what's most important is that they grieve somehow.

Emily said...

I really, really needed this. :) Are you volunteering to be my therapist? JK. I'm glad crying is okay because that's all I do these days.

Holly said...

Thanks, Nikki!

Emily - I will be your therapist anytime!

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