OUR PATH WITH GRIEF
In walking my own path with grief, I deeply experience how unimaginably painful, unpredictable, overwhelming and energy-consuming this process is. Although I have access to a variety of practices to support my body, mind and heart, the routine that normally served me so well was too demanding for me
to attend to during Alan’s illness and after his passing. I didn’t manage to sit on my cushion and practice meditation – my mind and emotions were simply too strong. I walked and worked in the garden instead and I would lie down with my hands on my belly and heart, feeling my body and the movement of my
breath. Early morning swims made me feel alive and floating helped me to relax. On other days I managed to do a gentle qigong practice or use my voice to produce sound. What proved to be (and still is) very helpful, is my ability to register and acknowledge all the feelings and emotions that emerge and allowing myself to feel whatever I am experiencing. I remind myself that it doesn’t need to be any other way – even though others wish my sadness would disappear as soon as possible. In this way there is more space for my grief to unfold. There are others too who are able to just be with me, with my pain and tears, my questions, my silence, my anxiety… who just listen to my story… but I have not met many of them. By not trying to fix me as if I am broken, by being patient and taking one step at a time, I am able to go forward with grief and find ways within my grief to connect to life and my beloved Alan. I don’t know how I will feel tomorrow and if there is anything I can or need to do. But I have promised myself I will pay attention and find out.
The first three months after Alan died, our small family gathered every week to check in on one another. Sometimes we would sit and cry, other times we would read texts, poems, or share memories. At times we would have a grief counselling session, either individually or as a group. These moments of sharing and being together have been of immeasurable value to me and my family. We felt that there was time and space to tell our stories of pain and love, and there were ears willing to listen. In walking my path with grief, more stories will unfold. I am willing to listen carefully.
Walking my own path with grief has taught me that giving yourself permission to grieve is very important. There are losses in life which are not always commonly recognised or accepted and therefore it is sometimes hard to grieve openly. If you don’t receive permission from others to grieve, there is a chance you will not give permission to yourself. And that will hurt even more. Giving myself permission to
grieve means taking myself seriously and giving space to feelings and emotions related to the losses I have encountered. In my own experience it has been hard to say goodbye to expectations, to the stories I built and to certain emotions like guilt or shame. Learning to take good care of myself and to gain trust has been difficult too. To be at peace with myself and to love myself, even without having a clear
identity, and learning to be kind and gentle to myself, with whatever arises, is a daily practice. To me the latter is the most important. And if we don't manage to do so, are we able to just observe and be gentle about it? For me this is still a challenge.
To me, grief is a very personal and lonely experience, and may take place with every life changing event. I experienced that it is very precious to have someone to talk to, or to be with, who is willing to listen without having any opinions or solutions. In my experience these are the people who are sincerely interested in you and your story, and are able to support you. I feel it is important to listen with
respect and without judgement, to acknowledge and provide space to the process, and to trust the grieving person in their process. There are no rules in grief and I am aware that whenever I will experience loss and grief again, it will be a new and unique experience.