Grief of All Kinds
The grief that occurs in our lives comes in varying degrees and from many different situations. Death of a loved one is not the only event that brings sorrow and pain. Divorce, separation, miscarriage, mass disaster and moving away from family and friends can cause grief. Loss of relationships, finances, property, innocence, abilities, security and self-esteem can also result in grief. You can even grieve for things you never had when your aspirations, hopes, and dreams are damaged or destroyed. No matter the cause or the assumed size of the grief, your grief is important and must be dealt with. Grief can be overpowering and even paralyzing. With grief comes confusion, frustration, exhaustion, fear, anger and a multitude of other emotions however, if left unattended, these emotions can develop into debilitating symptoms. Whatever the reason for grief, the pain is real and needs attention but too many times we have the tendency to avoid the confusion and pain.
When tragedy, trauma or even major disappointment strikes it can bring grief that is so overwhelming that it becomes unclear on how to move forward. Maybe the grief gets "swept under the rug" in avoidance. How do you attempt to deal with grief? What's the next step after experiencing a loss? Maybe you feel there's no direction or even energy for the next step. Well-meaning people may have told you that "life goes on" or "you need to get over it" and though that may be true, those words rarely provide support in a time of crisis. Hearing those words, the raw truth, actually can be frustrating, even infuriating. As difficult as it is to hear and even harder to believe, life does go on, with or without you. Wrapped in grief, it seems nearly impossible to move forward.
Paralyzed in Grief
After the loss of my dad, I was gripped so tightly in grief, I became paralyzed. Because I was unable to move on, I remained stagnant in my grief and pain, which ultimately lead to depression. I lost eight months of my life that I can never get back. Life continued on around me but I couldn't join in. I didn't know how to live life as usual; I didn't know how to move forward. I don't think I wanted to move forward and leave my dad behind. I didn't know how to progress past the overwhelming pain of loss; I just couldn't find the first step so I stayed behind as life went on.
Finding Your First Step
Often it feels frustrating because there's nothing you can do to change a painful situation. However, actively working through your grief and dealing with the emotions and issues head-on gives you a sense of control in an uncontrollable world. Even a tiny first step has momentum and can get you headed in a positive direction. You could try any of these as a first step:
Write your thoughts and feelings in a journal
Talk with a trusted person in your support system
Engage in a physical activity like taking a walk or dance class
Volunteer your time to a worthy cause
Make another person smile
Write a gratitude list
The list of activities is endless. It's not important what your first step is, what's imperative is that you find it and make a move. The essential point here is to do something positive... anything! Every griever is different and every situation varies but it's so crucial that he or she takes an initial step that creates momentum. If you are the one stuck in grief, take a step - find your first step and take it without fear or hesitation.
When faced with grief of any kind, you must remember that it's a process to your healing. The rate of progression is unpredictable and not as important as the movement itself. Once you start, every positive action you take in your grief recovery will give you the momentum for the next step. Grief is sometimes like the laws of physics; it takes effort and force to overcome the inertia. But once you overcome the stagnant state of apathy, confusion and lethargy, you will build on your energy and redefine your course of action. Remember, it doesn't matter small your initial step is... the vital concept is to take it and just keep moving.