Your Grief Is Your Own: Why There’s No Right Or Wrong Way To Experience Loss
Grief and the experience of loss is intensely personal, and just as there’s no right or wrong length of time for the grieving process, there’s also no right or wrong way to process that grief. Some people take time to themselves and quietly reflect while others cry and seek comfort in friends and family. These approaches and countless others are all valid and appropriate. However, some people disagree. You’re going to have a lot of people who try to help you through your grief—or expect you to just get over it—but as I’ll explore in this article, the healthiest way to approach grieving is by honoring your needs.
Grief is universal, but also completely your own
Walking through the grieving journey is natural, normal, completely healthy, and sane. It’s part of our process as human beings. Honor that part of you as much as you honor the part that laughs and plays and does fun things. That emotion of grief is just as good and helpful and purposeful as any other emotion we have. It’s sometimes looked down on in society or we’re made to feel like we have to hide our grief. You can do whatever you choose to do with that, but don’t hide it from yourself. It’s like any kind of healing: if you want to heal, you’re going to have to go through the pain. To get to that other side, you have to come to terms with it in your own way—and everybody has their own way of coming to terms with it.
Some people may take time away from everybody else and pray or meditate in isolation. Others may choose to surround themselves with people or distract themselves in work or volunteering to take a break from the pain. Do whatever makes you feel better.
Ignore “You Should…” and Focus on “I Need…”
Too many people feel the “should” in a lot of parts of their lives. I should feel this way. Or I should do this because I see other people grieving like this.
Find some way to honor what you need, whether that’s taking a walk every night or going to bed early or just asking for help getting through the day. If you need to cry every night for six months, or journal, or take long walks, or hike, or do yoga every day to get through it—do whatever you need to do. It’s all okay. There’s no magic bullet to end your grief. There’s no magic moment when you get over it; all grieving is individual. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself is to find a way to honor the person you’ve lost. For example, you can have a memorial or ceremony personalized around the person who passed and those who remain. You can connect with others and share your favorite memories. Take pictures of them at different stages of their life, or of their house or whatever you want to remember about them, and make a collage with your favorite pictures.
Do something so you have a memory and you honor that grieving time. You may even do things differently for different people that you lose. Just honor whatever comes to you, because honoring your loved one is part of healing. There’s no right or wrong. However, you need to heal is the best way.
Signs someone isn’t healing
There’s no wrong way to grieve—as long as it’s helping you heal. That said, sometimes a person can get stuck in the grief process, which prevents them from healing. I wouldn’t worry that someone grieved too long or too hard. But I would be concerned if someone feels like they’ve lost their identity and isn’t sure how to continue forward in life. They may need more extensive help processing that grief.
And I would definitely be troubled by someone who isn’t grieving the loss of a close loved one at all. If there’s no crying, no feelings or emotions, they’re not going through that process and something’s not okay. They might be in denial, and that just means the grief will come out in some other way at another time. That person probably needs to get help from a therapist or a trained professional.
Grieve, heal, and move forward
Grief can feel overwhelming, but the most important thing to do is honor your needs and move toward healing. Channel your grief into remembering to enjoy every moment of this space and this energy—your loved one would want you to do so. As your grief passes, remember that you are in charge of your life. You get to choose happiness. By healing in your own way, you’re not just experiencing tragedy; you’re turning your grief into the gift of a positive life shift and moving forward.
This article was an excerpt taken from my new book.
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