Grief: The process of coping after a loved one's departure to the other world, or whatever your concept of death is. Each of the religious traditions have their own customs and rituals to help cope with the mourning and pray for a peaceful journey from this physical world. IT gives us the ones that are left behind in this physical world a source of hope and solace, providing strength, courage and gratitude to face life without them by our side physically.
What happens when all the customs are over? What do we do with ourselves once we begin to resume a semi normal lifestyle without them by our side? How do we perceive our lives now? What changes must we make for ourselves if any? And last but not least, how do we continue to move on and move forward? There is no one way to grieve. In fact, i am a strong believer that we never fully get over a loss of a loved one, but simply in our process we learn to accept it as part of life.
Time, Self-Care and unconditional faith in a higher power are three tools that can help along this process of grief. Time is needed because in time, the pain will be gradually begin to lessen, but the memories will not. Memories will come flooding some good, some bad, some too painful that you want to block out. Yet, at other times, scents, smells, and flashbacks of certain images will appear because that is part of ones memories. Time is needed on our part because in time things change. What used to be is not any more. How we perceive things changes in time.
Self-Care is needed to help us in these stages. It is easy to get lost in the various emotions following the loved ones' passing - guilt, blame, anger, fear, denial, -all these come to you in a flash - and various triggers can get us in that mode. And when we get there we can often get stuck in those emotions which could lead to self-destructive patterns. Therefore self care comes in handy. Making sure we eat wholesome food, making sure we sleep, making sure we walk/exercise, making sure we are in tune with our emotions, and last but not least making sure we give ourselves what our heart needs. An internal checklist is important to continue asking yourself- how am i feeling at this moment -what do i need at this moment -am i doing the things i need to do to take care of myself - am i nourishing myself or am i destroying myself.
Sometimes we are so busy taking care of others that we don't know what it means to take care of ourselves - we don't like feeling that empty void of not having someone to tend to - and we get panicky - therefore taking the time to really have a internal dialogue with yourself about what your needs and wants are is important at this time.
Take a look at what sustains you inside - not outward? What gives you a reason for living? Make a list of 10 things to live for? Write it down and see what stands out? Make a list of things you love? See what is crying out to you if you don't do it enough. It is out on paper. It has come from the depths of your soul and it is showing you what you need. Stop the internal critic in you that says - you don't deserve it - no you as much as anyone else deserves it - and so now is the time to allow yourself that space to do so.
Self-care is important because we are taking the time to honor ourselves and to honor the person who has departed. They would want us to continue withour lives. They would want us to continue living and so not only for them, but for ourselves we must do so.
Faith in a higher Power is extremely crucial. Whatever your religious belief is - knowing that your every need is provided for and that there is a higher power that is looking out for you gives each of us the strength to move forward in this process of grief. One of the biggest champions of Death and Dying, Elizabeth Kubler Ross talks in big detail about the various stages of grief - that there are five stages of grief - and it starts with denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. At every step of this stage, knowing that you can have an intimate relationship with a higher power or your higher self and have a dialogue about whatever stage you are in helps with the grieving process. I am reminded of a Hindu epic story, The Mahabharatha in which two families are made to go to war with each other. One side of the family has the Lord in Human Form with them at every step of the way - guiding them, consoling them, arguing with them, providing them with wisdom, and nourishment in the midst of the battle, and in the midst of coping with multitutde of layers of losses. They all had to go through the losses, the grieving moments, the anger, the sadness, but at every step they had their friend, or Lord in Human Form with them -which to me was their faith - faith that I can pass through anything if I have Him/Her on my side.
And last but not least Writing because writing heals. Write about the anger, write about the last moments, write about the laughing moments, write about the what ifs, write about the beauty, and write about the loss. Everytime you write, you are taking a step closer to healing. I have had so many people say to me - it is easy for you because you do it all the time. No it is not easy - it takes perserverence and a willingness to do it. There has to be a will and when there is a will the doors open up. As I said earlier, a memory, a scent, a song, a picture, a prayer all these will begin to remind us of our loved ones as we try to resume normalcy. And what do we do with that? Do we put it away because it is too painful to bear or do we look at it in the face and say "I will embrace you even if it is painful." Because by remembering I am honoring you and realize that although your form may not there, but everything that you were and stood for is still there. So you live in me, and I live in you. Writing down our feelings, writing down our thoughts, certain memories all this helps with the process of grief. And in doing so the healing begins...