Grief is like a storm: turbulent and scary, but also nourishing and cleansing, making room for new, beautiful things to grow. And like a storm, grieving has stages. There may be more (5? 8?), but I’ve basically only found three: prepare, surrender, and rest.
First, prepare for the storm of grief, not by bracing but by being kind to yourself. It’s not your fault that you have pain. You’re going through something difficult, and you’re doing the best you can. Even if you feel in a very dark, judgmental place, connect to your intention to treat yourself kindly. Speak to yourself like you’d speak to a close friend who was in your shoes. Try saying things like, “It’s okay, sweetheart. You’re doing such a great job. I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time. I’m here for you.” Eventually, you may find that your small, hurting self is feeling held within a much larger ocean of tenderness and love. To me, it has felt that God, like a divine mother, was holding me in her lap. Feeling loved like this is so often a key that unlocks the door to grief. You have to find some sense of safety before you’ll open to the storm.
Then, at some point, the storm will come. You probably won’t have much control over when. And when it does come, just feel it, with as much kindness and gentleness as you can muster. Let it cut you deeply until it breaks you open with sadness. Feel the pain of saying,”This is goodbye.” If there are tears, let them flow. If there is rage, let it out (try screaming into a pillow!). You can do this alone, or with a supportive friend. In between bouts of crying or screaming, speak or write your grief. What are you sad to have lost? What do you wish you had back? Speak honestly, without judgment. Give full permission to your sadness, your hatred, your despair, or whatever you’re feeling.
Eventually, when you’re exhausted and the storm dies down, just rest. Do anything that feels grounding and calming: taking a bath, going outside, listening to music, watching a movie, massaging your feet, eating good food, chatting with someone you love. Anything that feels kind and soothing will help.
Over many rounds of grieving, I can say that this process works. It allows the suffering of loss to move through you, and makes space for other emotions: joy, laughter, connection, and love. But it is hard. It’s hard to be honest with yourself about how sad you feel, and to give yourself complete permission to feel that way. It takes practice. So be kind to yourself if it’s not happening like you think it should.
You are truly doing the best you can, and that’s enough.