The Truth About Fixing Grief You Shouldn’t Ignore
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Short and Sweet Summary: Is there a fix for grief? Something we can do to lessen the pain? Well, yes and no. Learn the biggest truth about fixing grief you shouldn’t ignore.
The agony of grief is enough to make you want to gouge out your eyeballs with jagged spikes dipped in molten lava because it would surely be less painful.
We search for a way to fix grief because we know how grief feels and the pain is unbearable. Our pursuit is relentless. The only problem is, the likelihood of fixing grief is about as high as finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
It ain’t happenin’.
SEARCHING FOR THE FIX
When I was first widowed, I bought lots of books. I read lots of articles and consulted lots of websites. I searched and searched for the elusive grief fix. C’mon now. After ALL these centuries of people dying, hasn’t anyone discovered the one surefire way to overcome debilitating grief?
Can’t I just rub the concentrated healing power of essential oils on my feet and let them work their magic? If essential oils can eliminate toxins from my body can’t they expel the grief, too? Let’s go essential oils! Pull that shit out of me!
Hint: Rubbing oil on my feet didn’t work.
Can’t I drink some woo-woo elixir like Kombucha laced with ginger or turmeric to fix my grief? If probiotics can heal my gut can’t they heal my grief, too?
Hint: Drinking Kombucha didn’t work.
Pills? Pinot Noir? Paleo diet? What’s the friggin’ answer?
Hint: Pinot Noir is sometimes the answer.
FACING THE FACTS
In the midst of my healing pursuits, I came across a quote by Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun, in which she says:
suffering begins to dissolve when we can question the belief or hope that there is anywhere to hide
I was hiding. I was.
After reading all of my books, articles, and web searches, it became quite clear that my only option for dealing with the debilitating grief was to deal with the debilitating grief.
In other words, accept it.
Well, folks, that’s really not the answer I was looking for. But I kinda, sorta knew it was coming. The truth about fixing grief that you shouldn’t ignore is no “fix” for grief exists. The only way to feel better is to feel the uncomfortable, horrible, twitchy feelings.
Ugh. It’s true.
When I stopped trying to hide from my grief and truly accepted it, my healing journey began.
Grief became less of an ominous monster and more of a way of life.
AVOID LABELING GRIEF
Your grief isn’t going away because your love for your dead husband isn’t going away either. So, like it not, grief is here to stay. You’ll have thoughts and feelings about the death for as long as you’re breathing air. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. When you label your grief as “good” or bad” or “right” or “wrong” you put unnecessary controls on a basic human emotion.
In the beginning, you might think grief is bad because it hurts. You might try to avoid grief because it makes you feel uncomfortable. However, when you understand that grief is just a feeling or emotion that comes and goes like the thousands of other feelings and emotions you have, you can make peace with it.
Feeling grief isn’t good or bad, it just is.
It’s an emotion and you have it. Because you’re human. And humans feel things. Your emotions don’t have to define you or control you, though. If you let grief come and go and move in and out and around and through, you can feel it and then release it until the next time it pays a visit.
WAYS TO COPE
Now that we’ve determined we must deal with the debilitating grief, what does that mean, exactly? Well, for starters, we need to stand face-to-face with grief and accept it. Acknowledging grief goes a long way towards healing. After you acknowledge grief is present, you can decide on a coping mechanism.
My coping mechanisms will differ from yours because we all deal with our grief in different ways. I might cry all day. One day I get my bike out and enjoy the local park. I drink wine. I mean, it changes daily. All I now is that when I acknowledge grief, it always lessens.
I also have control over how I live. My grief can burden me and prevent me from every getting out of bed, or I can enjoy life again by choosing to do things that bring me joy.
It’s your job to determine what brings you joy.
Please don’t say “nothing brings me joy.” Something brings you joy. Just figure out what that something is and go do it.
Here are a few ways of dealing with my grief that have worked for me in the past:
Get a good dinner on the table
I’m not a culinary master. However, I can read a recipe. I like to feed my body (and my kids’) good, healthy food. Yes, it’s time-consuming, I’m not gonna lie to ya. But, your brain can’t be burdened by grief when it’s learning how to make Eggroll in a Bowl. Try this. It’s delicious!
Join a support group
We attended a grief support group for two years after my husband’s death. My kids made new friends who were “like them” and I connected with several adults who experienced the same things I was going through. It helps to talk it out with like-minded individuals. Search “grief support groups near me” on Google and check out your options. Or read the Where to find Grief Support Options for Widows post to get some other ideas.
Doing something for others takes the focus off yourself. Grief can’t inundate your brain when you are helping others. Give grief the afternoon off. Focus on ways to contribute to your community instead of giving grief all of your attention.
Socialize (even when you don’t feel like it)
Accept lunch or coffee invitations. Or extend the invitation yourself. Do not stay holed up in your house alone. It’s unnecessary and unhealthy to be alone all the time. Make it a priority to get out and be with other people. I rarely say no to a lunch invitation.
Buy an adult coloring book, like Calm the F*uck Down and go to town. Coloring is cathartic. It’s amazing how good you can feel with a couple of crayons or colored pencils.
WIDOW WRAP UP
While I wish I could tell you I found the elusive fix for grief, I can’t.
The cat’s out of the bag. There is no fix.
My hope is you’ve come to terms with your grief and accepted it instead. I hope you acknowledge your grief and no longer hide from it. Finally, I hope by not hiding, your suffering dissolves at whatever pace is appropriate for you.
Peace out, my friend.
- Learn How to Move Grief to a Supporting Role
- Outstanding Grief Camp Options for Kids to Process Their Confusing Feelings
- The Way We Think About Grief is Broken
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Been reading a lot of your articles and find them helpful. I am a “new” widow of not quite two months, lost my husband of 27 years to Pancreatic cancer. No matter how much a death is “expected” or “imminent “ it’s still a huge shock when it happens, and you are NOT ever prepared.
Hi Janet, you’re still in the new and really raw stages 💔. I’m sending lots of peace and strength your way.
I came across your website when I was searching for resources on grief. Not as a way to “fix it” but as a way to understand it and know I wasn’t alone. I’ve read a lot of your articles over the last month or so. My husband of 20 years, Donald, died on April 22 this year, one day before our son turned 18 (he also had his senior prom the night of the 23rd). Donald had been receiving treatments for stage 4 kidney cancer for three years and was 78, but it was pneumonia that was too much for him. I’m 51 and have so many years ahead of me. As much as I knew my husband would die long before I would (barring any circumstances to the contrary), having him die from fucking pneumonia when his cancer had been steady for so long is just unbearable. It would be unbearable no matter what. I DO live in the past a lot. Thinking about the way we met, looking at photos and mentally revisiting our wedding day, watching the video of our trip to Bermuda when I was in my 2nd trimester, watching home movies of him dancing with our baby boy…. Your articles have helped me but I have a very very long way to go in my grief. My grief is different than my son’s grief but we are both hurting. Thankfully we both have counselors! And I just found a grief support group today through one of your articles that I’m hoping will benefit both of us. I just want to say thank you for creating this site. 💗🦋
Hi Melissa, I’m sending you truckloads of peace and strength as you and your son learn how to make room for and move forward with grief ❤.
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