There are few human experiences in life that cause us to suffer so deeply, like the death of a loved one. It is truly one of life’s hardest losses that you will ever have to face. Nothing ever prepares you for the suffering, the depth of feeling that arises in you, the strength and courage you will need to face up to the loss.
After the shock of losing your loved one has worn off, you are left with a depth of feeling like you have never felt before. You have so many feelings sitting deep inside of you, weighing you down. You don’t know what to do with all the pain and suffering, the fears and anxieties, and the loneliness and depression.
The grieving process feels very confusing. You may feel disorganized mentally and emotionally, not knowing at times if you are coming or going. To put words to all that you feel can be so difficult. It most likely feels like there are no words that can express the depth of your suffering.
Nonetheless, you do have to find words for your feelings, if you are to heal. You need to move these painful feelings from deep inside of you upward to the surface where you can begin to release them.
The grief you feel is your own hell. No matter how much love and comfort is around you, only you can do the grieving. I know, I’ve been there. The grieving process is one of the most isolated experiences that you will go through; it is so very personal. The way you express your grief, the depth of your suffering, and the length of time that you need to grieve to heal is unique to your makeup and the circumstance of your loved one’s death. There is no benchmark for healing. You have to find your own way. ~ Grief drives men into habits of serious reflection, sharpens the understanding, and softens the heart ~
- John Adams
Why do the feelings you have over the loss of your loved one disorganize you so much right now? You shared so many experiences, hopes and dreams, and losses with your loved one. You journeyed through life together. Whether the deceased love one is a parent, your child, a sibling or grandparent, a relative, or cherished friend, your identity is tied to this person.No wonder you feel lost, as if you lost a part of yourself. These relationships, by their nature, are central to your existence. The memories that made up a good part of your life, if not all of it thus far, involved this person.
Your feelings about losing them will be deep and confusing. It will take time for you to grieve all that they meant to you. You may feel at times like you’ll never get better, but you will. The pain you feel will not be there forever, although I know it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now. You and your life may seem at a standstill. It’s good to keep in mind at this time that the grieving process is much like a still river. On the surface, it looks like nothing is happening, but there are stirrings deep within it–and deep inside of you.
What can you do to heal? The most important task in the grieving process is to express your grief, so you can let go of the painful feelings you have and get on with your life. Remember, feelings that come from loss sit deep inside of you. You have to shake them up and move them up and outward. You need to express them. This movement of self-expression is vital to the healing process. There are four ways to do this. These include:
- Draw out your pain. Show your emotions on paper. You can use crayons, colored markers, or watercolors. You don’t have to be an artist. Just get your pain out and don’t censor what you feel. Draw whatever comes up from deep inside of you.
- Release your grief by venting it. You can vent through words spoken or written. Keep a journal. Each day write down what bothered, energized, or deeply affected you. For some time, things in your day will call up a memory of your loved one. Express the feelings that come with each memory.
- Share your grief with others. You may want to join a grief support group. Sharing your grief with others who are suffering too is a good way to get out your pain.
- Give meaning to your grief. Put symbols to what it means or it feels like to you. Is there a sign or interpretation that you take from the loss? Find ways to understand what the grief means to you and your whole life.
Remember, the feelings that you express tell your story from your perspective, your suffering– what you lost, fear, and need to heal. You won’t see it immediately, but in time, the feelings that you have been expressing begin to organize your inner experience and help you to integrate the loss into your life. Now, you can begin to rebuild your life without your loved one.
I always like to give you an example of what I mean, and if I can, to share something about myself, my life journey in my posts. Unfortunately, I do have something to share with you today about my own experience of the grieving process. December 28th, 2005, I learned, while vacationing in Italy, that my 52 year-old sister Dorothy died of a chronic illness of which she had been struggling. While my family and I knew that she could die, we didn’t know how soon it could happen. We didn’t want to accept this reality.
It took a couple of months for my shock to wear off, and as the grieving literature does portend, the hardest part was just about to come–the grieving process. I can tell you now almost seven years later that I have been grieving her loss for almost this whole time. Of course, with each year, I was healing.
You may be saying, seven years are you kidding? Remember that the makeup of a person, the bond between you and the deceased loved one, and the circumstance of his or her death can influence the depth and length of time of the grieving process. Well, the bond between Dorothy and I was strong. We both had no children and had given much of our lives to our professional careers. We also had close bonds with our parents. She would often say to me when we were talking about things, you know Deb, I knew you would understand; we are so much alike. This along with my psychological makeup and the untimeliness of her death made my grieving process deep and hard.
The despair over losing a loved sibling too early was like nothing I had ever felt. I was depressed. The only thing I could do was express my grief. So, I turned to poetry, a form of expression that I have long loved. I read it and tried my hand at writing it. Here’s what came out of me.
So Lays Me: The occasion of my sister’s death.
What can I tell you about me today
that will not change or fade?
My brown hair,
I wear straight
lays on my shoulders, dresses my gait.
Words I basket and pull to their fate,
lifted upward and over
they fall willingly
to fickle ground
pinning each in place.
Heavy wet sheets wait,
for the wind’s respite.
Soil catches their lament.
Spongy beige caps
siphon earth’s wage
to spores nestled below,
Hesitant to fulfill their reason to be,
So lays me.
I am the sun slipping silently into the ocean
Wiping away the day in one motion
Pleased to abandon charge
Under night’s black cover, you’ll find me
churning the days passings,
looking to a good harvest
to move forward. Deborah Khoshaba 10/6/2007
I wanted to share with you my inner journey, so you can know your pain and suffering is not unusual. We are all journeying together, experiencing joys and losses.
Find your own way of expressing your pain. Draw, write, sing, even drum your pain out—give meaning to it. You’ll see, in time, the healing will come.
Blessings to you and your deceased loved one. I’m adding some links to my page for you that I think are good sites on grieving.
If you like my post today, please say so by selecting the link that immediately follows. And, as always, I appreciate your comments, so feel free to leave them here. Warmly, Deborah