“Grieving is an aspect of love, and healthy grieving is an act of love and remembering love.” ~William DeFoore
The death of a beloved sets our minds in a whirlwind. We try to protect ourselves from the enormity of anger, shock, and denial in an attempt to interrupt and even stop the deep anguish of grief. This instinctive reaction to pain is normal. It is when these responses dominate the grief process that our grief never truly heals.
It is only when we rely on and focus on our love for what is gone that we find the courage and strength to move into the pain, release sorrow, and complete the grief process.
Here are seven qualities of healthy grieving
- Rituals and Ceremonies – One of the first rituals we often encounter is the funeral or memorial service. This public expression of honoring life and acknowledging death should not be ignored. Rituals can legitimize grief, provide a safe space to express emotion, receive support, and reaffirm that you are not alone in your grief.
- “It’s all right to cry. Crying takes the hurt out of you.” These words from a childhood song have stayed with me long into adulthood. Deep, long sobbing is a powerful way to release emotion. Quietly allowing a few tears to roll down your cheek is a good start but won’t be near as helpful as a really good cry. Research tells us that crying flushes stress hormones and other toxins out of our system. When you sob, you take in many quick breaths of cool air which will help cool your brain. A cool brain is a happy brain.
- Give your emotions a voice – Find safe places to express your emotions. Talk to a good friend, write in a journal, join a support group, exercise – whatever activity feels best for you. Your “stuffed” emotions are almost guaranteed to come back and bite you at some time. Avoiding emotions could also lead to anxiety, depression, and memory problems.
- Shifting Perspectives – It may not always be easy to replace a negative thought with a positive one, but when you do, it will help. A sweet memory that brings a smile to your face will help you begin to see an uplifting vision for your future.
- Self-Care – Grieving is hard work, so being sure to take care of your physical well-being is a must. Eat healthy foods, exercise, and rest whenever you can.
- Finding Balance – Grieving is an active process that takes energy. What you find nourishing may be quite different than what another family member prefers. There are many ways to nourish your mind, body, and soul. Find a balance between focusing on day-to-day tasks and allowing yourself to grieve. Balance the amount of time you spend alone with the time you spend with friends. Balance asking others for help with caring for yourself.
- Making Time for Introspection and Reflection – The loss of someone or something that has an important place in our lives can make us feel like the world’s been tossed upside down. Writing in a journal can be one of the most powerful ways to cope and heal. Instead of ignoring the reality of grief, journaling helps you think through the many feelings and emotions., which is important in creating a sense of peace.