Emotional Grief Lessons
Through my rollercoaster of emotions, I have learned a number of emotional grief lessons:
1. Grief can be surprising in its breadth of emotions. I have learned this is normal. Some people cry. Some people laugh. Others lash out while still others retreat.
Sometimes many emotions hit all at once, and it is difficult to sort them out. Sometimes numbness prevails, and there is no emotion at all. In my experience, the best way to deal with the emotions has been to greet them as they come, and then to invite them to sit with me awhile.
Pushing the emotions away was not effective for me. The only way to move past them was to sit with them, to feel them, and to move through them.
Each Griever is Unique
2. Everyone grieves differently. Differences in grief can lead to anger when everyone is in the highly emotional state of new grief. Each decision can create a ripple effect of additional hurt and anger.
Some people want to grieve with others. Some people want to grieve alone. The best advice: “Do no harm, but take no s**t.” Choose empathy and kindness, but not to the detriment of your own health and well-being.
3. There were days when one thing felt ok to me, and then the next day I would feel differently. The best thing for me was just knowing that there were people I could turn to if I needed to chat or if I needed support…but that’s just me. Everyone is different. Overall I try not to allow my grief to push away those who try to help.
Emotional Grief Lesson Four
4. Everyone is entitled to their grief. Our society, unfortunately, has a grief ranking. If you are not the parent, or the spouse, or the child of the deceased, your grief is seen as less. I would argue that this ranking is not only hurtful, but diminishes the reality of human connection.
It is not to say that losing a child, a spouse, or a parent are not some of the most challenging things anyone can experience in a lifetime; however, it is unnecessary to rank grief at all.
5. Anger can be pervasive, and it is often easier to deal with than hurt. Often anger is a mask for something else. Anger is usually pointed outward, and at times it is far easier to be angry at the driver who cuts you off in traffic than it is to sit down and to really face the feelings of sadness and despair that can accompany loss. Anger can also mask fear. Be gentle with yourself.
Grief and Anger are Intertwined
6. Sometimes it is hard to unravel the source of the anger. When emotions are raw, people may lash out at others. In fact, the anger may not be directed at the other person, but at the situation in general and the injustice of the loss. As the recipient of anger, I tried to put myself in the shoes of the person expressing the anger and to empathize.
Alternatively, when I was the angry one, I tried to reflect on my feelings and where they were coming from before I expressed my anger in a way that I could not take back.
7. Self-care is a critical component of surviving a grief journey. While this is difficult for many grieving adult siblings who may be caring for a multitude of other people, it is important to make time for self-care.
Offer yourself grace and the time to care for yourself first. Make sure you put your oxygen mask on before you help others.
Amy K. L. Busch is the author of Permission to Grieve: A Journey from Sibling Loss to Restored Hope: Busch, Amy K L: 9781736121702: Amazon.com: Books.
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