Grieving is so Sexy, said no one ever.
Often when we hear the word grief, we think of death. As in someone just died, so clearly, we expect that people should be in mourning. It is true that we grieve after someone we love dies, but it is not the only time we experience grief. And it’s not exactly a “one size fits all” experience either. It seems like we spend a lot of time avoiding it, well both the grief and the death. It seems like we have become accustomed to pretending like neither exist in order to not make ourselves or the people around us uncomfortable.
Have you ever experienced the death of a loved one, as in a person or a pet? Have you ever lost a job, or had to leave one due to an incredibly toxic environment? Have you ever been divorced, left or been the one to leave? Have you ever experienced abuse-whether it be physical, emotional, financial or otherwise? Have you had your house burn down or survived war? Have you been diagnosed with Cancer or Multiple Sclerosis, ALS or suddenly become paralyzed? Have you lost a business or declared bankruptcy? Have you struggled with becoming a new parent or left a spiritual community? Did you grow up in a household that struggled to be safe, caring, attentive or nurturing? Did your partner cheat? Do you like the cozy embrace of drugs and/or alcohol? Is your housing situation unstable at best? This, and a whole lot more is also loss that can be considerable sources of grieving.
I understand how hard it is to silently grieve, to feel there is literally no one to talk to about any of this stuff. We get very hung up on the shame that comes from a sense of loss and failure. Specifically, I find in the western culture we are taught to not speak of such things, and to “save face” as it were, keep up appearances, don’t stir the pot by being real. I think it is time to start really delving in to grief, and not to wallow and wrap the cozy blanket of depression around ourselves, but to actually begin to heal because we are dealing with it.
Growth through the grieving process is real, it is possible, and it is such a good thing.
For the longest time I thought I struggled with depression, and sure-I had my days that were a real struggle, that felt as though I was citizen #1 and only on a sinking island but I was never to the point of “clinical depression”. I have also struggled immensely with anxiety. I have had poor partners, poor jobs, poor life periods. I have cried for hours, days, weeks and months and only recently did I realize it was because I was grieving all the cumulative losses I have experienced over the past 20 years. Once I made this realization it was like a billion-pound weight lifted from my shoulders and then the healing process could begin. Holy crap did that feel fantastic.
Grief looks like a lot of different things to each individual, and is experienced differently as well. Some things that we feel would be simply silly disruptions might actually be experienced as detrimental to others. Just because someone does not experience a situation the same does not mean they are not grieving. It is not a competition to see who is in more pain, or whose experience was worse off.
It is about realizing that that thing that is festering in our innards is grief, pain, longing, yearning and was once known as love.
I grew up in a very chaotic family environment that was short on time, attention, patience, support and trust amongst other things. My first boyfriend tried to kill himself- something I held on to with such guilt forever. Why couldn’t I make him happy? Why couldn’t I make him get help? Why was I not enough for him? My next relationship was a marriage to an everything-aholic, we all know how those turn out. I went through a spate of jobs, wandering through the world alone. I finished nursing school but felt like I sucked at everything as the work environment is not exactly the most therapeutic in nature (and I had recently lost any self esteem I ever accumulated- kicked out of me from a very public divorce). I single parent alone. I left toxic work environments despite loving my job. I have been uncertain of my living situation for most of my life. I watched my dog get run over and writhe in the throws of death. I have had cheating partners, and have been abused, lied to and stolen from by those I thought I could trust the most.
This is why I now am focusing on healing through grief work. I have survived this and a whole lot more, and will continue to do so. I am grateful for my struggles as it has given me a new appreciation and ability to be compassionate to those that also struggle. I have attended numerous courses on grief, loss, death, palliative care nursing, mental health, suicide education and beyond. I understand the importance of connection and struggled for so long hoping that there would be just someone out there who might understand me, and so I am that person for others.
Let’s have the difficult discussions, so we may grow through them and walk lighter, stronger, clearer and braver into our futures.
I am going to focus on various types of grief in upcoming articles, so please share with those who might feel them to be a breath of fresh air to hear someone speaking openly about things we fear.
There is nothing we cannot overcome together.
Kimberley Dickinson is a Nurse, Author of the bestselling novel The One Life Movement, Private Yoga Instructor, Life Coach, Grief, Loss and Mental Health supporter and End of Life Transition / Death Doula. For more information on her lifespan inclusive services and skills please connect with her on www.athomewellness.ca for in person, over the phone or online support and coaching sessions. Grief and Loss workshops are scheduled throughout the year.
For inspiration, travel adventures more backstory on the above and lifestyle content visit www.theonelifemovement.com
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