By Gloria Mendez, MS, LPC-S, Certified Grief Counseling Specialist
Queen Elizabeth II was quoted as saying Grief is the price we pay for loving. Individuals have a much easier time expressing love in a more profound and effective manner than they have ever had with grief. Love elicits physical and emotional reactions that are associated as positive and good. Grief, on the other hand, has always had the opposite effect on people. Who wants to voluntarily express things that make them feel emotional and sometimes physical pain? If you thi nk of grief as Queen Elizabeth II did, if we do not enjoy the beauty of l ove, we then do not have any need for grief. Are we willing to give up all the things in life worth loving to avoid pain? There are various ways to express your grief, both public and private, that can assist in getting to a point where the pain of grief grows less with time.
4 Strategies to Express Your Grief
1. Writing Letters
When we experience the death of someone in our life, there are always things left unsaid. Regardless of the circumstances, having time to prepare for the passing due to a fatal illness or sudden death, we never feel like there is enough time to say all the things we want. As life continues without that person, events occur, and we pick up the phone instinctually to text them or call them to tell them. Writing letters to the deceased is a way to communicate our feelings and thoughts, and serves as a way of keeping them present in our life. Some people will keep these letters in a special box, some will take them outside and burn them as a release, still others will tie them to helium balloons and release them into the sky for the deceased to read. The symbolism behind writing letters to the deceased and how the letters are handled is very personal, and therapeutic, and for some plays a religious or spiritual role in their healing process.
Journaling is a private conversation that you have with yourself about your feelings, thoughts, and memories regarding the deceased and the whole grief process. Your journal can incorporate any and everything that you need to write about and process. You can use written words, you can draw, you can color. It is your blank slate to empty out all your fears, sadness, anger, confusion, curiosity, etc without any fear of judgment. There is much to gain in“dumping” those things that are swirling around in our heads out onto paper, looking at them with our eyes, and processing them. Things will begin to get clearer. Things may not get easier or less painful, but more understanding is a step in a better direction.
3. Grief Support Group
There is something to be said about comfort in being around those that understand your situation. Support Groups sound intimidating at first, but if given a chance, they can provide the gift of insight into a situation that you may have never seen without attending. It may feel like you are the only one feeling your pain, but you are not alone. There
are rooms of people that gather all the time sharing their stories, their wisdom, their compassion, and their support. Talking about your story, and your feelings, and being able to help others by sharing can make your journey a purpose.
4. Therapy – Grief can turn into an ugly beast and lead to many emotional complications that affect daily life. Seeking out the assistance of a therapist may be necessary to untangle those triggers and emotions stemming from grief. A therapist can offer you a safe and confidential space to explore your feelings, give you strategies and skills to use to help you on your journey of grief, and be your outlet when you feel like you have nowhere else to turn in life.
Regardless of the circumstances that lead a person into the Grief Process, the one thing to remember is that expressing the grief is vital in getting to a better place. It will never be the place you want it to be, but it can be a better place because of love.