Last week I promised I would be sharing stress coping strategies with you and asked YOU how you keep resilient and reduce stress effects.
This has led me to thinking very tenderly about: Grief
I remember as a child, watching Charlie Brown cartoons for Thanksgiving and Christmas and Halloween of course and admit I was a huge Snoopy fan! But now as I’m reflecting, Charlie Brown is a pretty sad chap!
”Good grief” as he is famous for saying. Is there really any such thing Charlie Brown?
I am reflecting on this a lot this year. Grief, sorrow, missing a loved one…
I think, as I look at my dining room table:
What’s missing at my table?
I am so sad for who’s missing at my table…
This is not how I dreamed I would be spending my holidays…
My oldest daughter stayed in Maui…
My mother and my son are in heaven….
My other children are with their father for Christmas this year…
I am deep and heavy into “Woe is me”…
And into my huge grief and sorrow as it envelops me, heavy and sad…
No, nothing good about grief, Charlie Brown.
I wish I could just eat chocolate, drink wine and feel better.
No doubt that if my psychiatrist was Lucy I probably would’ve been locked up by now!
Over these many years, I have learned a lot from grief and sorrow.
They have been companions at times, enemies and friends. Reminders of love and joy…
I became skilled at compartmentalizing, which is a valuable coping skill.
I have run from my grief and traveled around the world looking for answers just to recognize that:
”Everywhere you go, there you are.”
At a tough time in my life, quite recently actually, a friend said:
“Anna, have you grieved?”
I answered: “Of course I have….I think….maybe….maybe not…”
and as I was reflecting he said: “Anna, I give you permission to grieve.”
It was as if a flood gate was opened, and I cried/sobbed… and have learned a lot from this journey…
I have learned, as the children’s book titled ‘I’m going on a bear hunt’ says:
”We can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. Oh no! We have to go through it!”
I’ve learned that we have to grieve our own way and we have to grieve…
Whatever that means for each of us. There’s no speed grieving that we can do. No fast way through it. And there are unexpected and expected times we will grieve again.
For example, my dear friend Mary’s mother just passed away last week. The first thing I wanted to do was call my mother… who passed away many years ago.
Sometimes there is an avalanche of emotions, sadness, sorrow- deep wells of sorrow, grief, loss and despair.
This is the natural roller coaster of life. Highs and lows are to be expected.
What can I find Good about Grief?
Grief is a reflection of deep love. This means, we have loved deeply and can continue to love deeply.
Grief reminds us to have faith. Look beyond the past, trust in God.
Grief teaches us to be present. Live in the moment because here is where life is to be lived and living it gives love honor.
Grief is not in control of us. We are in control of it, with practice, it is a story that we tell.
Here are some coping skills and resilience builders that I rely on. First, I give you full permission to grieve…your own way.
- Keep your ‘tank’ full: hydrated, exercised and nourished with whole foods and greens.
- Be present…pause, breathe, smile…connect.
- Daily gratitude journal and prayer.
- Donate to charity, volunteer at a local shelter or kitchen.
- Compartmentalize – i.e. allow yourself time (scheduled) to grieve or reminisce.
For example, schedule 15 to 30 minutes as a dedicated time. When thoughts come up during the day, mentally set them aside for your designated time, ex. 8:15pm. Maybe this is a daily time, weekly, monthly or designated special dates. Then, at that time get into a comfortable chair or space, instrumental music or silence is ok, and go deeply into your thoughts. During the holidays when emotions are more intense, I do this within my meditation time. It allows me to honor my memories and not be consumed by them during the day.
Next week I will reflect on the empty chairs in our lives. What have they meant, inspired, transcended in you?
This Thanksgiving, there are no empty chairs. All are filled with loving family and friends. People deeply loved are still missing, remembered and honored.
I wish you a memorable and loving and peaceful holiday season.
Please share your thought below.