Grief is a spiritual process that shows up in times of death, change and loss. If there is ever a time to grieve, divorce is one of them. Today’s blog explores the gift of the grieving process.
Grief a Gift?????
While it sure doesn’t feel like it most of the time, the grieving process is a gift given to us by our Divine Source that allows us to move through the many losses of our lives, find healing and release of these losses and be made ready to accept the new life that waits on the other side. As I have been moving through this process of divorce and witnessing the many faces of grief in both myself and in my children, I am reminded of all the ways that grief shows up.
The Faces of Grief
Grief shows up in many ways as we move through the process of loss. There are the Kubler-Ross phases: denial, bargaining, anger, depression, sadness and acceptance; but even these come in several shades. It is also helpful to recognize that grief often comes out sideways and shows up in normal behaviors that somehow seem disproportionate to the situation. So….here is a brief run-down of some of the subtle shades of grief:
- Emotional and mental paralysis
- Not being able to get thoughts from your brain to your mouth, or not being able to form a cohesive statement
- Lowered resistance to illness – being sick more than usual or feeling a general feeling of malaise (just feeling like crap all the time)
- Loss of focus, difficulty holding attention
- Impatience, irritability, heightened frustration
- Tears Tears Tears
- Disproportionate responses to general irritation, anxieties, etc.
- Anxiety, panic, trembling, shaking, not being able to keep warm (some of these are symptoms of trauma)
- Sleep Sleep Sleep
- Not wanting to get out of bed
- Loss of appetite
- Seeking out avoidance tactics
- physical pain and body aches
I know there are more…..but this provides a good reminder of the subtle ways in which grief shows itself in our lives.
Some real life examples
As we are moving through this divorce process, I am truly grateful for my own experience working with clients on grief. It has allowed me to acknowledge the grief as it is showing up in myself and in my children and be present to myself and to them in that grief. (I am also grateful for my friends, my Lumby family, my therapist and my Spiritual Director who have been a source of support as we move through this divorce and its related grief.) Here are just a few examples of how I am witnessing this grief show itself:
- Maggie has missed more days of school than any other year due to illness.
- Our whole family has been plagued by some strange coughing virus since November.
- Wil, who is rather impatient anyway (he’s only 11, he’s supposed to be impatient!), is now even more impatient and less tolerant of his sister’s very presence. (projecting his grief through anger and frustration on to Maggie)
- Yesterday as we went shopping for bedding for our new home (and spent $200.00 on pillows and mattress covers…..AAARRRRGGGHHHH), I felt all of us getting more and more stressed and more and more frustrated with the whole shopping process. We left the store in an impatient and irritated huff.
- Wil got disproportionately frustrated with a video game and threw his IPod across the room. (after which he got a stern warning about what would happen to the IPod if I ever saw him do that again!)
- Tears—–I cried all the way through Grey’s Anatomy last night….
What to do when grief shows up
So, what are we supposed to do with all this grief stuff as it shows up? BE PRESENT! In the grieving process, the invitation is to be present to the grief and all that shows up with it. We are invited to be present to the feelings, the emotions, the energy of grief, accept it as part of the healing. As we allow the faces of grief to show themselves, and hold space for them to move through us, we find healing, comfort and release. It is ok to grieve – in fact, it is necessary for it is only in being present to the grief that we can be open to receiving the new life on the other side.
DO NOT BE ALONE in your grief. Find close friends, family, a counselor or therapist or a spiritual director who can be a source of support for you as you move through your losses. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Where have you experienced a significant loss in your life?
How did grief show itself?
How did you allow yourself to be present to the grief?
What was the new life that you discovered on the other side?
Authentic Freedom Ministries