How to Manage Grief

Did you know that grief is cellular? It manifests deeply in your body and affects almost every aspect of your life.

One widow I work with says her grief made her feel like she was being pulled out to sea by a rip tide. Just as she would get her head above the waves, the tide would pull her under again, so much so that she often found it hard to even breathe. She literally felt like she was drowning. In fact, she even called the paramedics once because the heaviness she felt in her chest made her think she was having a heart attack, which she could have been actually, so she was wise to get that checked out.

Other grieving women have described frequent headaches, insomnia, or a sense of heaviness in their body. They feel like they are walking in slow motion, as if their feet weigh 100 pounds each. Some have a sense of foreboding, or an achiness all over their body while still others have panic attacks or feel like sleeping all the time. And believe it or not, all of this is actually normal when you’re deeply grieving.

Grief is not just an emotional occurrence. Grief has significant physical manifestations. Grief affects every cell of your body.

Because grief affects us at a cellular level we have to learn how to live with it, before we can actually live through it.

You cannot run away from grief. In fact, the more times you have run away from grief in your life the more likely it is that this loss will dropkick you to your knees! You have to move through your grief intentionally or you risk becoming stuck in a dark place.

So, I have found that one of the most effective ways to deal with grief on a daily basis is to create and use a grief container. What’s a grief container? It’s a time you set aside, every day, to process your feelings and acknowledge what’s going on in your life. Grief containers are effective because you are giving yourself a place and a time to grieve. A grief container lets you honor what you are feeling. You see, your mind is not going to forget that you are grieving. In fact, if you try to ignore your grief you will almost guarantee that you’ll have a grief outburst at the worst possible moment, like in the grocery store or the bank.

So let’s take a minute now to think about when you want to schedule your grief container. Some women I with like to start their day by acknowledging their grief. They find that acknowledging what they’re feeling that day, first thing in the morning, let’s them move through their day more effectively. Others prefer to do it mid-day or in the evening when the demands of the day are over and they can relax and take as long as they want.

The time of day doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that you set aside a time, every day, to work with your grief. Journaling, meditation, and processing memories of your love and loved one are all great ways to work with your emotions during your grief container time.

A grief container gives you more control over your emotions. When you know that every day at 9 a.m. or 7 p.m. or whatever time you set for yourself, you’re going to deal with what you’re feeling, then you can steady yourself when those overwhelming feelings happen, or someone or something triggers your grief. When you have a safe time every day to release your grief and you experience a trigger, you can say to yourself, “Wow, I’m feeling overwhelmed right now but I’m going to use my grief container to deal with this instead of reacting right now.”

So think about where in your home you would like to be during your container time, get some pens and paper, maybe a CD player, some tissues and just make a contract with yourself that you will spend 10 or 15 minutes everyday honoring your grief. I promise you will see powerful results when you do.

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