Grief has come in all shapes and sizes during this pandemic. We have lost many things in the last few months, including people that we love. For those of you who have lost a loved one, I am truly sorry for your loss. There are no words to express the pain you are feeling, and there are definitely no quick tips I could give you to ease your pain. Not only is grief difficult, but for many of you, it has come with painful circumstances. Maybe you were not able to be there when your loved one died. Maybe the funeral had to be postponed. Maybe you were able to have a small service, but it wasn’t with all the people that you wanted to be there. Maybe you were longing for the physical touch of friends and family when words fell short but needed to practice social distancing instead. My heart aches for you all as I think about the pain that you are experiencing.
Keep in mind 8 things as you process the grief you are feeling right now.
1) Give yourself permission to grieve. Because grief is so painful, we have this tendency to want to push those feelings away or suppress them. We fear it will swallow us up if we let it in. Tears are not weakness. Let them flow. We need to lean into our grief and like waves of an ocean, take it as it comes. Embracing it doesn’t mean liking it, but we will be able to heal when we allow ourselves to feel it.
2) There is no right way to grieve. We all grieve in different ways. Your emotions may be all over the place, like a tangled ball of yarn that you can’t make sense of. Some people outwardly weep, other people keep their pain more on the inside. Some people get angry, some people find acceptance a little quicker. Some people become very active, some people struggle to leave the house. It is ok to deal with grief in your own way as long as you are not hurting yourself or someone else.
3) Show yourself grace. Grief takes its toll on your body. It can take all the energy you have just to get out of bed in the morning. Your mind may seem fuzzy. It may be difficult to concentrate. You may find yourself forgetting things you would normally remember. It may feel like you are pushing thoughts through jello. This is normal. Don’t feel like you have to accomplish all that you normally do. And don’t beat yourself up or convince yourself you are losing your mind.
4) Take care of yourself. Because grief affects your entire body, it is important to take care of your health. The acronym DEER can help you remember four important ways to do this: drink, eat, exercise, rest. Talk to your doctor if you are feeling continued physical symptoms of grief.
5) Find ways to celebrate your loved one. This may seem difficult with the quarantine restrictions or just because it may seem too painful. But as you are able, it is important to find ways to remember your loved one because it will help you heal. You can go to a special place they loved, cook their favorite meal, listen to their favorite music, write them a letter, create a slideshow with your family of favorite pictures, or create a book of memories. Be creative and think about what would make your loved one smile.
6) Don’t grieve alone. When we are in pain, sometimes our first instinct is to isolate ourselves. But when we are alone too long with our thoughts and pain, everything seems bigger and harder to bear. We need other people to share our pain and remind us of truth. Talk to your family and friends. Ask for help with emotional and physical needs. Find a support group with other people who are going through the same thing.
7) Do the next right thing. Navigating life can seem overwhelming right now. If at all possible, postpone any big decisions. Focus on today and do the next right thing. That might mean something as simple as showering, or eating, or going for a short walk. Little by little, you will be able to take on more and make decisions. But don’t rush it.
8) Jesus grieved too. Jesus knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead moments later and still he wept at his friend’s tomb. He was acknowledging the pain that comes with death. He understands. As Larry Crabb said, “God meets us where we are, not where we pretend to be.” Faith is not denial. Struggling with grief does not mean your faith is weak. Grief is the celebration of a good gift from God through tears.
Losing someone you love is like losing an arm. If you lost an arm, no one would expect you to go right back to normal. It takes time to be able to re-learn how to live without them. You probably just thought, “But I don’t want to.” I understand. But you can’t go over, around, or under grief. The only way is through.
Grief Counseling in Pennsylvania
I am praying for peace and comfort for you and your family during this painful time. Please know you are not alone. Our counselors at Lime Tree Counseling in Ambler, PA offer grief therapy as well as trauma counseling and can help you learn to grieve in a healthy way. When grief is not dealt with, our emotions don’t go away. They come out in detrimental ways. Don’t let yourself stay stuck in your grief. Maybe you are struggling with regrets or had a difficult relationship with your loved one. You may need someone to help you make sense of it all and move toward forgiveness. Lime Tree Counseling also offers family counseling as well as marriage counseling and can help your whole family move towards health and healing. We also offer online counseling so call us today to schedule an appointment or contact us for a free 15 minute phone consultation with one of our trained counselors.