If you were given the choice between diving into the darkest depths of the ocean, fully equipped with all of the gear needed to handle whatever you might encounter, OR being attached to an 80-pound anchor while you flailed frantically to keep your head above water, which would you choose?
Well, when it’s put that way, I’d have to choose diving into the depths. Grief is a lot like plunging into the depths of a dark unknown ocean. When we plunge into grief, we fear we will never resurface. So we choose instead to frantically tread water while lugging an 80-pound anchor that slowly drags us to the very place we were trying to avoid. How ridiculous is that?
Last year, I had a very important friendship end. I chose to dive right into the darkness of my grief and bawl my eyes out! I was pathetic. I cried in front of everyone I encountered and even cried during a presentation I gave about, of all things, sharing and being open about one’s grief. I was literally a sobbing mess for eight days.
As I look back, I realize it took a lot of courage to allow myself to express how I was feeling. I was honest and shared my sadness with an open heart. Then a funny thing happened. The crying stopped and I felt light and free.
If I had chosen to pretend that I was fine or tried to repress my grief, kicking wildly with that anchor chained to my legs in an attempt to keep my head above water, I would have been dragged down into the darkness anyway. My heart and soul would have been battered and exhausted. I am certain that I would still be sad had I tried to fight my grief.
But I chose to dive into the depths, trusting that I had the gear I needed to face what had to be faced. Including taking responsibility for my part in creating the circumstances that ended the friendship and understanding that I wasn’t a victim. As a result, I became stronger and light enough to resurface quickly. It was a very empowering experience.
I am using a minor loss in order to give you a simple illustration. I know that major losses are complex and more difficult to face, but the same principle applies.
In July of 2004, my brother died, five months later, my infant daughter died as well. It was as if my soul knew that the two losses combined were more than I could handle, so I put fully grieving the loss of my brother on hold. It took a great deal of energy just to get through the day, and I felt heavy and tired all the time. The blocked sadness also blocked my ability to experience love and joy to the fullest.
On the third year anniversary of my brother’s death, it hit me: my brother was gone. That is when I began to really process my grief. I dove in by writing, reading and sharing about my loss. It’s been six years and I have just begun to resurface. I am sure people thought, “Honestly, it’s been years, shouldn’t she be over it by now?”
I can’t help but wonder if I hadn’t put my sadness about my brother on hold and given myself the time to grieve, would I have been able to resurface sooner? My guess is yes.
My energy started returning just this week! I am starting to feel more love and joy in my everyday life more than ever before. Having processed my grief doesn’t mean I won’t continue to miss my brother, my baby and even my friend, but as long as I allow myself to feel my sadness and let it come up and out, I will continue to be empowered.
Do not be afraid to dive into your grief. Get the tools and support you need to work through your sadness and you will avoid a lifetime spent in darkness fighting to get to the light. If you need support or would like to learn more about the tools needed to effectively process your grief, please contact me by email or phone. I would be honored to be your spiritual grief companion. You, too, deserve to live a life filled with energy, love and joy.
Gabrielle Michel 2010