All about grief

Dearest lovely readers,

How are we all? I want you to check in with yourself for a moment and take a breath.

Today I want to talk about grief. This may be a sensitive topic for some so I understand returning at another time. Grief can be very difficult topic and an even more difficult emotion to deal with. This is because it means the loss of something whether that is the passing of loved ones, pets/companions, a job or relationship. We all experience grief that is as unique as ourselves, given the current climate, I feel there is a collective grief occurring right now. So many of us have lost something in the previous couple of years and it is completely okay to be experiencing grief. If, however, it is taking over your life or you’re wondering if you need to talk to someone, please reach out to someone you trust and a medical professional.

According to Mind, grief occurs following bereavement and is the process we go through. They acknowledge that it can also occur from changes in circumstances. There are two forms. The first being anticipatory grief (when it is expected) and secondary loss (the struggle we have when thinking of the future given the loss or change in circumstances). I think knowing where we are at with our grief can be so useful in understanding the process a little more. When grief occurs it can take many forms and it is emphasised that there is no time limit on how long grief takes place for. There can be sadness, and shock, numbness, panic, and anger. If you lose someone to suicide, then there is a whole host of more complex feelings that arise and that is okay. There is support for everyone out there.

There are many charities that can support you through grief, a primary bereavement charity is Cruse. They highlight that there is no ‘normal’ way grieve. It is common to feel anger or go over the details of the bereavement and have sleep and appetite changes and especially feel lonely. There are ways to circumvent some of this through exercise, sleep hygiene and podcasts. It is okay for grief to be intense at the beginning, especially on specific and special dates. Other ways of finding hope can be through yoga, or journaling, and mindfulness. It is important that if you are supporting someone going through this that you are there to listen.

An important thing to note is that, according to the Mental Health Foundation, grief right now might be compounded with restrictions on visits and seeing others. The changes right now can bring a lot of emotions to the forefront that are difficult to manage. We may experience physical pain and have a harder time of making sense of everything.

My Personal Story

Now, to be a bit more personal, my history with grief is complex. I spent years thinking I had an inability to feel grief. My first memorable loss was my great-grandmother at just 15 years old. I saw her suffering and it was anticipated, she had lived a good life yes, but I was close to her. I internally imploded after her passing causing my emerging traits of a personality disorder. When I lost my two grandparents in the span of 8 weeks I carried on as normal. I didn’t feel much which I felt guilt for. But after a few months, I started behaving irrationally. Grief was not the word I would have used in those moments to describe what I was feeling. Given the way personality disorders can bring unpredictable reactions, I would now say I grieved in my own way as a way of protection. Last year, in the span of 7 months, I lost 4 pets. This is when the grief felt more… natural I suppose. I lost my two guinea pigs which, as you know, were my companions since I had my last breakdown. When I lost Brenda, it felt like my recovery went back several steps and it has been hard finding my footing again. Because I adored them and trusted them, I shared all my emotions with them. I have cried I won’t lie. But I also felt my emotions instead of fighting them. I think that is growth.

All of this to say, we feel grief in our own way, and there really isn’t a right way to grieve. Fighting emotions and thoughts that come up only make things harder. I have had some wonderful family members and a partner to lean on over the years as I navigated these losses. It doesn’t get harder, but a little easier as time passes. Now, after therapy, I do miss my family members, I miss my companions, but it doesn’t rule my life. Right now, when in flare ups, I grieve my past when I was far more able-bodied. I miss not having chronic pain, I miss being more clear-headed. And it is okay that I recognise how my life has changed. I can feel so much more limited, even though I am not. I am learning to adapt and I think that is key here. We must learn to adapt with our changes and losses, it is possible. We must hold on to our love, and walk with grief rather than running away. It is not easy but I can guarantee you have the strength.

I love you all,

L x

Understanding grief

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