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Grief Healing: A Process Rather Than a State After One’s Loss health news

Grieving as a process takes its own time and each process grief takes on its own path with many influencing factors on the response to loss and how internal experiences as well as responses to changing life circumstances are absorbed and restructured.

Sandy Andrade, a mindfulness and presence oriented psychotherapist shares the grieving process for coping with loss. Something fundamental is transferred to the grieving process when natural processes are allowed and held. During the Covid pandemic, the Just Being Center for Mindfulness and Presence, along with Connecting Trust, conducted mindfulness-based grief circles for months for those experiencing grief and loss. Our learning from these circles is a community-based experience where we can talk openly about the different feelings we experience, hear other people’s experiences and let our feelings be, how healing that is. When we allow these feelings without someone trying to fix us, telling us to move on faster than we are, the feelings open up to a deeper understanding of the fundamental nature of life, death, loss, impermanence, and returning to ourselves. To have a deeper, more meaningful engagement with life. Grief becomes a sacred process that touches the heart of humanity, love and deep connection.

Our understanding of grief has long been shaped by the work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, in which she outlined stages of grief such as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. However, more recent research has found that the grief process is not linear. The dual process model of grief developed by Stroebe and Schut is more consistent with normal processes of grief, in which a person oscillates between feelings of loss and restorative coping processes, in which a person engages with what is needed and the changes that are occurring. Loss is a normal process of grieving that goes through both the adaptation process and the recovery process of this loss. Many other factors influence the way we process grief, such as our sources of support, our cultural and religious beliefs surrounding loss and death, and our past experiences of loss and grief that have not been addressed.

A few things to remember when grieving:

• Each person has their own way of grieving. We have to respect and allow for the many ways in which it is shown and, by the way, shown. Sometimes, it’s anger, denial, sadness, numbness. Grief is not just one emotion but a combination of emotions that includes periods of positive feelings and loss.

• Grief can be of all kinds. We usually talk about grief because of the loss of a loved one, but grief and loss can be experienced when we lose our job, change cities or jobs, end a relationship or have the ’empty house’ syndrome.

• There is no timeline for healing from grief. It is an ongoing process of integration.

• When we are sad, we feel like it may never end, but like everything, it changes.

• Pain subsides and we feel that we can let in other things and emotions. It is a natural process of going in and out of grief and making more room for other experiences and feelings.

• We may feel that grief comes up unexpectedly at times and we may allow it as it appears. That doesn’t mean we haven’t healed from grief. It is part of the process and a slow assimilation of our deeply held feelings.

• We expand our sources of support and care. Having space that allows us to experience our grief in a non-judgmental and non-counseling way is healing. Grief circles or group therapy can be a good resource for this.

• Behind this sad feeling is a heart full of love. When we allow our grief, we allow our love to flow.

• A healthy way is when we allow for our feelings of sadness and also tend to the actions needed in changing circumstances. It is considered a normal healthy process to experience grief and engage in something restorative.

• When we experience past trauma or previous losses that have not been adequately held, the current loss can bring up the grief of all previously held losses and feel overwhelming. We may need more support to deal with our grief.

• The emotions we feel can be overwhelming, and it helps to bring our mindful attention to a sense of grounding by feeling our feet on the ground and placing our hands on our hearts, feeling the warmth of touch as a gesture of care.

Grief has a way of changing us. This is not necessarily a bad thing when we face our feelings honestly and allow that change to happen. So the ground we stood on, our faith, and our sources of support can often feel lost. It is until that time when things slowly begin to open up in a new way, that our deep-seated connection to who or what we have lost is always in our hearts.

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