What is grief?
Grief is the jumble of many intense feelings and emotions that can impact day to day life in varying amounts. We can experience grief from many events such as when a relationship ends, when our pet who is part of the family dies or when we discover we cannot conceive a child.
Grief can be all consuming, leaving us feeling lost and unable to envision life without that person or pet; our love with nowhere to go. Having a desire to want the world to stop, for everyone to feel the pain you’re feeling but putting on a “brave face” which we are conditioned to do in western society.
When my mum died 14 years ago I did just that. I was the “strong” one, “got on with it” and didn’t talk about it much to protect everyone around me from THEIR discomfort. So many times, I heard “I just didn’t know what to say,” or “chin up.”
Reactions like this can leave us feeling lost and confused by this jumble of emotions and expectations of ourselves and others around how to behave.
Let’s normalise grief; it is a NATURAL response which will affect us all in different ways, my response may be different to yours; there is no right or wrong.
There are generally stages that are useful to help normalise feelings such as
Bargaining – I would give anything. I wish they could be here, just one last time.
Denial – this can’t be happening; they’ll walk through the door any second.
Anger – how could they leave me, why didn’t they try harder.
Perhaps these resonate for you, perhaps they don’t and that’s ok. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
These feelings will flow, evolve, move forwards AND backwards and change in intensity at any given day, month, and year.
Nature and Grief
Being with nature and witnessing the natural life cycle through the seasons can be a powerful ally when working with grief.
Spring offers us new life, growth and nurture. Summer offers us abundance, warmth and life lived fully. Autumn offers us the fruits of our labours, slowing down and change. Winter offers us cold, death and resting. And then Spring arrives again to remind us that we can still grow and find space to feel, to ease the wounds of grief.
5 ways to manage your grief.
- Sowing the seeds of a favourite flower or planting a tree in memory of a loved one gives space for your love; a continuing symbolic bond to help you process the loss of the physical bond as the plant grows.
- Creating a memory box with special memories/items allows you to access the happier times and offers you an opportunity to share the meaning with loved ones.
- Joining a local gardening group, book club or walking group offers a way to connect to others to reduce feelings around isolation that grief can bring.
- Create a photo collage to keep the memory alive and reduce fears around forgetting.
- Create a keep sake item from clothing such as a teddy.