Conventional wisdom suggests that there is not much you can do about grief but sit back and suffer through it. Newer thinking disagrees, finding much that we can accomplish though active, intentional grieving. Riding the Waves of Grief will highlight the many decisions, actions, and opportunities that can turn the pain of grief into growth and healing.
You may have heard for years that there are Five Stages of Grief that are thought to apply to all of us. At my counseling office, I have been visited by a parade of clients who beg to differ, as their experience just doesn’t fit the predicted Denial-Anger-Bargaining-Depression-Acceptance stages. They have taught me that while grief is universal, the experience of it is highly particular. They say things like:
“I don’t know what stage I’m in. People keep asking me that. I don’t think I’m even in one.”
“When am I going to get angry? My daughter says I won’t get any better until I do. But I’m not angry – I’m sad.”
“The next person who asks me if I’m in Acceptance may get a knuckle sandwich. How dare they tell me I’m doing this wrong?”
Instead, I talk about waves of grief that come, recede, come back, that in general lessen with time. And I talk about what we can do to strengthen ourselves to stand up to them. You may have your own metaphor that matches your own grief experience, like climbing a mountain, or digging out of a hole, or a thousand others. We will explore that in a future post.
I never talk about the right way to grieve, or the same way to grieve for everyone, or the right amount of time to take, or waiting a year before making any decisions. We can make good decisions throughout our grieving that can make a great difference.
Like what practices can we use to create calm, to let go of our stress? Or who do we want in our support system? And how can we help our children grieve? I know how important it is to answer those questions with good concrete answers, and then carry them out. There will be plenty to talk about here.
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