Nine months after the death of my mother I was finally able to cry.
To say that I was not grieving would have been an understatement. You just would not have seen it on the outside. Nevertheless, my inner turmoil was real.

It happened unintentionally and unexpectedly. I was just listening to music on YouTube one day when I came across Nettie Dudley Washington’s spiritual I Bowed on My Knees and Cried Holy, sung powerfully by Michael Gauthier.

I just wept.

The words described the reaction a Christian might experience upon entering heaven. After being overcome by this sudden wave of grief I was left with a sense of contentment and inner peace.

Mourning the loss of my mother combined with the death of 3 other family members during the midst of 2020 left me with a feeling of vulnerability. I felt much like an orphaned child. As if it is possible for a grown woman approaching her senior years to feel that way.
All I can say about grief is it’s a BITCH!


And it’s different for everyone.
We all have to process the loss of a loved one in our own way and in our own time.
There is no right way to do it.

The one truth I know for sure is that to truly process grief we must connect with our emotions. For some of us, this is relatively easy for some of us it is damned hard.

The intensity of grief can differ depending on the nature of your relationship with your loved one and whether the death was expected or unexpected, age stage of life etc. Emotions may differ when you unexpectedly and tragically lose a child, compared to being a grown adult losing an elderly parent.

Nevertheless, for the individual experiencing the loss that loss is real.

Regardless, of the nature of the relationship, grief is the price we pay for the connection we have to another human being. We mourn the loss of their physical presence, their energy, time, space and connection with us.

It is their absence and the finality of that absence that we have to come to terms with.
We mourn the space they left behind and all of what that entails.

Even animals notice this.

Many years ago, we had a German Sheppard Dog, Ringo, and a Coon Cat Mimi. Ringo though, huge, was friendly and wanted companionship from Mimi. She refused to have anything to do with him. When she died unexpectedly, you could see the genuine sadness on the dog’s face. He clearly noticed that she was gone and moped around the house for days noticing the emptiness and space she had left behind.

It seems even toxic relationships really do serve a purpose after all.

It goes without saying, we can grieve the loss of a negative unhealthy relationship as well.

Coming to terms with the myriad of emotions associated with our grief is perhaps one of the bravest things we can ever do. Experiencing our emotions, identifying how we are feeling acknowledging them, labeling them, sitting with them, working through them without lashing out, and projecting them onto others takes inner courage and strength.

This is not the time to shut down or stifle your emotions. You don’t have to be stoic and strong. Being stoic and strong is not a sign of strength, being in touch with your emotions is the actual sign of strength as it is a sign of our humanity.

If you are not in touch with your emotions this can be difficult - some people don’t even know what their emotions are. If you fall in that category getting help is important.

There is no need to be afraid of your feelings, they are an expression of the meaning of the relationship you had with your loved one and what that person meant to you. Experiencing feelings is a sign of maturity. Take time to experience the full range of your emotions regarding your relationship with your loved one.

Some people suppress their feelings through alcohol, drugs, food all with the unconscious or conscious intention of avoidance. Other people act out using other addictions gambling, risk-taking, addiction to pornography, sex, etc. These are all ways one can use to avoid and distance yourself from experiencing grief.

The problem with this approach is that you end up creating another challenge for yourself on top of the one you’re already facing. The last thing you need is to develop an addiction on top of your grief. Avoid creating further difficulties for yourself. Deal with your grief intelligently.

If you know that you are someone who has very little experience managing your feelings then you need to connect to someone who can help you a spiritual advisor, or counsellor, or even a support group.

So, with that being said here are some tips to help with dealing with grief and the loss of a loved one.

Grieve in your own way and at your own pace:

1) There are no rules. Everyone is unique in how they deal with grief. Some people are able to move on quite quickly, while others languish in distress. Some people seek out the comfort of others, while some people choose to be alone.

No one else can determine how long your grief will require before healing takes place. It takes however long it takes.

Other than getting support when needed, avoid the belief that there is a designated process that you have to follow.

2) It goes without saying that this is a time for self-compassion kindness and self-care It is critical to take care of yourself in every way. Think of your physical, emotional, spiritual well-being, and overall mental health. Take this seriously. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is not a time to push yourself beyond your limits.

• Think about the healthy things that comfort and soothe you and connect with them often.

Expect challenges when special holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays roll around

3) Plan for holidays, birthdays, and special occasions. It’s at these times the loss of a loved one can be most poignant. You can no longer celebrate the occasion in the same way as you did when your loved one was alive. If it is a universal holiday like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day that is celebrated in a universal way you are forced to deal with the fact that your experience of that holiday is now different from the norm and will require modification.

Focus on the Blessings of the Relationship
4) Create a memory book. Creating a memory book is another useful way to enhance the healing process. This is a positive action that pushes you towards focusing on the blessings of the relationship and not just the loss. You can put pictures of your loved one, memorable papers, small items that remind you of good times together, or cards they sent you in a special photo album or scrapbook.

Put your memory book together at a time when you are relaxed and not rushed with other obligations. Look at it when you need to but avoid becoming obsessed with it. Put it away from time to time so you don't spend all your time clinging to your memories.

Life After the Death of a Loved one
It's common for people who survive a loved one to feel guilty about having fun. You may ask yourself, "Can I enjoy life? “How dare I laugh and play? “ “Should I be having fun?" The answer to these questions is your life does go on. You are not betraying your loved one by having fun. In fact, the best way we can honor those who have passed away is by living our lives to the fullest.

Let’s not forget that even though Grieving is a normal process our number one task, and the task that demonstrates our healing, is whether we are able to go on with our lives while incorporating the loss of the person who has died.

Here’s to loss, healing, growth, and recovery the many faces of grief.

Author's Bio: 

With well over 20 years experience working as a therapist, and trauma counsellor, Veronica now works with female entrepreneurs and women in business, helping them to manage their stress, prioritize their needs and set healthy boundaries in their inter – personal relationships.

Her presentations, workshops, group coaching and 1-1 programs help women to get out of their own way so that they can show up clear, grounded and focus on stepping into their greatness.