Grief... it's such a tricky concept and one that I've never been able to process well.
As a kid, I was fortunate enough to not have to deal with grief often. I had a few family members and close friends of the family pass, but those incidences were spread apart enough for me to learn about grief, process it in my childlike way, and move on.
Fast forward to adulthood- the first death I had to deal with as an adult was that of my Nana just a few months after my 18th birthday. It was a death that we saw coming, yet was a huge blow nonetheless. I could see how hurt my entire family was, so I learned, as someone who has taken on a caregiver role throughout her life, to put my emotions aside and be there for my family. After a brief stint with my personal pain, I worked to control my emotions and be there for my family at a time they needed me most- even if it was just to sing the Celine Dion version of "Ave Maria."
Little did I know then that that habit would come back to haunt me... In 2021, I experienced the death of my paternal grandpa, maternal great-grandfather, and childhood dog. Again, none of these deaths were unexpected, but the blows were stronger than I could've imagined and thought I'd ever be able to handle...
Those who have been with me in any of my hard times know that I can be guarded. I don't typically seek out someone to have a conversation with about the negativity in my life and prefer to handle it myself. However, during the havoc of the pandemic and around the time of my paternal grandpa's cancer diagnosis, I realized that I couldn't just keep all the negativity in my head as I'd pretty much done throughout my adolescent & adult life.
It was then that I turned to pen & paper to lighten my mental load. I found journaling in the nick of time as I was strapped in to a rollercoaster ride I never imagined I'd have to experience. Journaling allowed me to make sense of the chaos going on inside my brain while calming the storms as it all got out on the piece of paper.
This is why I created my Joyful Journaling course- to help you process the chaos buzzing through your head when it comes and build a trusting connection with yourself. Being connected to your true self makes all the difference, especially in moments of grief as it allows you to tap into what you truly need to care for yourself. Trust me, I learned this one the hard way...
Unfortunately, no amount of journaling could've gotten me through the first six months of 2021. As loss after loss after loss rained down, I went into sheer survival mode. It felt like as soon as I took the beginning steps towards healing from one death, the next one came. It took everything in me to keep up with the responsibilities I had and try to repair the torn shreds of my heart.
I know- that line sounded dramatic, but it's truly how I felt. I had never experienced such sustained sadness like that and I hope I never will again.
With all of that being said, I did survive. I fought against the tidal wave of grief and I stand here today to tell the tale. And as I prepare to take another big family loss while writing this, I think it's the perfect time to shift through what I learned from my 2021 experience and pull out anything and everything that can get you through the pain grief brings.
So, without further ado, here's what's helped me survive my grief in hopes that it'll help you through too...
1) Allow Yourself to Feel into Your Feelings
Trust me, I completely understand not wanting to feel your feelings- they hurt at times like this. However, it's so much worse when the emotions explode out from you after being pent up for a period of time than if you would've felt them as they come.
Following this guidance might also mean you're showing emotions at "inconvenient" times- like when you're around people. Know that it's okay to be emotional. Your emotions are not a burden, especially at times of collective grief.
If you're having a hard time expressing your feelings, I highly encourage you to do a brain dump. Start from wherever you can- whatever's on your mind at that moment- and go from there. Let everything spill out of your mind and onto the page until your mind stills itself.
From there, I'd recommend taking a moment to meditate (I find that clearing out my chaotic mind before meditating makes it possible to actually still myself and receive the benefits of meditation). Meditation allows you to take that next step in connecting with yourself if you allow that connection to happen. If you can't seem to make it happen in the moment (something I experience often- especially in times of overwhelming negative emotion), meditation at least allows for a moment of peace in the storm and provides a chance to simply be with you.
2) Take Care of Yourself
I know this seems obvious, but at times of grief it can be easy to let your grief take over and forget to care for yourself. You don't have to do anything elaborate if you don't want to, but make sure you're being nourished and getting as much rest as you need (which may be more than usual).
I'll be completely honest- I have a hard time with this when I'm going through it. There were days during the beginning of 2021 where it felt extremely hard to do anything other than mindlessly scroll on social media or sleep. This included eating, which was not good at all because I prone to getting hangry 😅
It took heaps of effort to get up and get going, which is why I recommend caring for yourself by going into coasting mode during these times. This means you do what you need to keep everything afloat without bringing on any extras- like a big DIY house project or taking on a freelance position.
Of course this tip won't work for everyone as many people like to stay moving through their grief, but I've found if I channel my extra time into expressing my emotions in any way I see fit then giving myself some mental rest, I feel much better at the end of the day.
3) Allow Others to Be There for You
This one is TOUGH for the caregiver in me... I feel like I should be helping others instead of being on the receiving end of help.
However, times of grief are exactly what having a inner circle is for! Your inner circle will be there to pick up the pieces in any absence you need to take and lend a helping hand wherever you need it- so long as you ask.
This doesn't mean you have to do anything you're uncomfortable with because this time is all about you. Follow what brings you peace in the midst of chaos.
If you're currently grieving, I offer you my deepest condolences and pray that you get through this time as smoothly as possible. If there's anything I can do to support, I would absolutely love to. Shoot me a DM on Instagram or send me an email and I'll be there ✨