An excerpt from Catherine McNulty’s book, The Gifts of Grief.

Grief is not something to survive or a disease to cure. It is a universal human emotion and an opportunity to deepen self-awareness, re-evaluate what’s truly important, and take action to bring meaning into your life.”

Although grief is an emotion everyone goes through, each one of us goes through it in a different way. It seems like we all think that grief is something that we can escape; until it happens to us. We’re told by the books that we read and advice that we get from others, that there is a specific way on how we should go through it. An example of this are the famous, “5 stages of grief.”

According to Earl Grollman, “Grief is not a disorder, a disease or sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.” You need to have the courage to dive head first into what we’re feeling. You need to experience the feelings that you have and know that it’s okay. Know that as you go through it, if you’re committed to going through the process, it will surely bring you to a wonderful place of healing.

I wholeheartedly believe that the intensity of pain you feel in grief is the result of the love and the connection that you had with the person you’ve lost. It’s a good thing. It’s a sign that the more intensely you’re feeling pain, the deeper you loved them. Say to yourself out loud, “The pain I feel today is a sign of how much I loved my loved one.” Pray that you understand and internalize the connection. Pray for understanding that who you are and what you’re going through is something that will bring a new sense of meaning to your life as you experience it, move through it, and eventually come out on the other side.

It’s so easy to choose to be the victim and to be stuck in a place where your grief just washes over you. I’ve been there so I know what it’s like. There are days when you don’t want to get up and you don’t want to do anything. But the truth of the matter is that you can be just as committed to going through the process of grieving and the days when you don’ t feel like you can move as in the days when you feel like maybe you’re doing a little better.

I want to encourage you to own your grief. Be real with yourself and tell yourself, “This is where I am today.” It is self-discovery and awareness that allows you to go through this grieving process with your eyes wide open. When you do this, you will learn more and you will heal more. We can even heal some parts of ourselves that we didn’t know needed healing. As we move through it, we’ll find that we will hurt less than we would if we covered our eyes, pretended it’s not happening and tried to hide from it.

There’s a quote that says, “Processing grief is like treasure hunting in the dump. In order to find the good stuff, you can’t tiptoe through. You must dig in and prepare to get messy knowing the riches of joy and peace lie underneath the unpleasant stuff.”

Grief is a taboo subject in today’s society. It’s not something we talk about. People don’t know how to support it and deal with it. Often, they are afraid of approaching you and this is why it’s so important that you speak up and tell people where you are and what you need. You need to have someone by your side who knows when to give you space when you need it. Likewise, you need someone who knows how to support you, and recognize when you need encouragement to take even the smallest of the steps forward, rather than falling into the trap society has created that surrounds your grief with silence and makes your grieving feel wrong.

I’m here to encourage the world that it’s okay to grieve. As a society we have to own it and make it something that we DO talk about. We should know how to and be able to support those who are grieving. By not talking about it, the silence around grief remains. It is this very silence that will prolong our grieving and keep us stuck in our grief.

There certainly aren’t any classes that you can take in school that will help you become prepared when it’s your turn to grieve. It would be nice if there was! We live our lives as though death is never going to affect us – until it does. Then, in that moment we scramble to figure out how to deal with it on our own instead of embracing people that can come into our lives and help us. We tell ourselves that we don’t need a coach or we don’t need a counselor because we can handle things on our own. We don’t want to ask people for help because we do not want them to think that we are weak.

Catherine McNulty

After losing her infant son in 2011, Catherine embarked on a journey to do more than survive grief. The loss forever changed the trajectory of her life and sent her looking for meaning and purpose for the life she was given. She channeled the love for her son into her own healing, self-growth and personal empowerment. Today, she has created a framework to grief that disrupts conventional ways of looking at loss. She challenges her clients to step outside of a victim mindset and regain control of how they navigate grief. She teaches how to grow through grief and encourages speaking openly about grief to break down the walls of silence around grief. Catherine lives in San Diego with her family where she speaks, writes, and offers coaching to those who want to do more than just survive grief. She is a board member of Empty Cradle and volunteers at Miracle Babies and the Ronald McDonald House. Her business, Grief INSPIRED supports those who are grieving and guides them to create a new normal that honors the ones they’ve lost.

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