A while back, I was listening a documentary and I heard an interesting statement; “The problem is that we don’t talk about grief. We just sweep it under the rug and everyone just expects you to get on with it”.
I found this statement very interesting and it opened a can of worms for me. I had the realisation that since my mum’s sudden death in 2007, I have never actually grieved.
At the time, my wonderful, supportive secondary school called in a bereavement councillor because I had asked for one. However, upon reflection, I was absolutely still in the ‘Denial’ stage and thus, the sessions were largely built around my ridiculously busy schedule and how stressed I was with trying to juggle my school, music, acting and sports duties.
I was OBSESSED with being busy (really it was anxiety, but that’s another blog all together!) in an attempt to carry on ‘as normal’ and to exude strength and calm to the world around me. This façade carried on for long enough after my mum’s death and eventually I convinced myself that I was just fine, dandy and had accepted her passing.
My mum was my best friend and my rock. An absolute firecracker and shining star to all around; her loss was heavily felt by all whose lives she had touched. As she was a single mum, she pretty much shaped me and was my go to for everything. Therefore, when she died so suddenly it was both unexpected and heart breaking in a way I cannot really put into words. I was living in a way which was running away SO MUCH from this traumatic past that I was totally in the future and never in the present.
My obsessive busy body nature took over and later the anorexia also helped my to control and cover up a plethora of emotions that were bubbling under the surface like a cauldron left to boil over. Over time, my health and body suffered: I got hip pain, back pain, knee pain, liver problems, kidney problems and lost my menstrual cycle all together. My grief was destroying me from the inside out, but I was STILL unaware and unaccepting of it.
If you didn’t know, grief is generally split up into stages:
- Denial – you carry on as if they are still here on earth with you and you act as if life is just the same and nothing has changed.
- Anger – You become angry at the person for leaving and you become angry at the universe for the hand you are dealt etc.
- Pain – the most indescribable feeling of sadness, pain, emptiness and loss. It results (in my case) in curling up into a tiny ball and crying so intensely, grotesquely that your whole being is incapacitated for any amount of time until it passes. This stage creeps up any time it fancies, and is all consuming and really, really, really intense. It wipes me out for days and often feels like depression
- Acceptance – you accept.
So how did I even start to begin the grieving process?
I guess I first realised that I was not okay in the midst of my anorexia when a wonderful man introduced me to Reiki when I was working in Tenerife. After that first Reiki treatment, I transformed from a sceptic: asleep and unaware of the energetic connection between mind and body, into an awoken individual who was hungry to learn, heal and love once again.
Now 9 years later, I think I have only just moved away from the denial stage and able to face my loss head on.
I want to share some things that helped me on my journey with grief and loss.
- It’s okay. Death is hard; it doesn’t matter how well you knew someone. You are human and have a right to feel emotions, whenever and however they arise. So be kind and allow yourself to feel.
- Grief doesn’t have a set structure, order or time frame. In other words, be prepared for the kraken to emerge from within any time it likes. Different things, such as a smell or song, can bring me to instant tears anywhere that I am so I just breathe and allow it to come. You can tackle this by taking yourself to a quiet place and giving yourself some time to connect with the emotion and be with it. Treat it with kindness and acceptance.
- Avoid over-doing it. I have learnt this the hard way. Why? You’ll create an acidic, stressed environment in your body which will a) make you more prone to disease, b) age you quicker and c) prevent your body from emotionally healing as well as it could if you take some time out
- Don’t feel guilty if you just want to lock yourself away for a time and sit with the feelings of sadness/anger. If the feelings do become unmanageable, get in touch with some outside sources for help: friends, family or therapists.
- Invest in your wellbeing. Exercise, do yoga, have Reiki/massage treatments, get fresh air. All are fantastic for healing and releasing endorphins.
- EAT wholefoods and HYDRATE. I CANNOT stress this enough. It will alkaline your body and make your mind function on a higher level. Aim to get at least 2-3 litres a day and try to have filtered or alkaline water where you can.
- Get at least 8 hours sleep. I sometimes need 10-12. Greif can be a stressful and acid producing process and energetically draining process, which will BATTER your body if you don’t rest it enough.
- When the time is right, talk about it. I have a therapist who specialises in the Reach Approach, a Birmingham born programme. I am only just unearthing emotions and feelings about my mum – BUT I have the tools to cope with it. Download an app called ‘Happy Hints’ or follow their YouTube channel at ‘thereachapproach’.
- When the feelings come – just accept them and be kind. Be grateful that your body is bringing them to your attention. Each new emotion and feeling brings with it precious gifts and lessons to learn; just LISTEN with grace and acceptance.
Nothing can really replace a person or the gifts they bring to your life. But you can honour them and yourselves by grieving with acceptance and kindness. Self-love is the key to feeling strong enough to overcome any loss, however great or small. I am still grieving and proud of it. It takes so much strength to face your emotions head on and treat them with the respect and patience that they deserve in order to heal like an absolute warrior. There is NO set time frame.
I wish you the best in your healing process and remember: always be kind.