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5 Jul 2016

The Healing Power of Self-Love When You Experience Grief

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Art by: Hanni Love. 2016 © Sublime360

A beloved friend of mine approached me recently with some questions about grief and spirits. She was experiencing strange things, feelings and emotions that she wasn’t sure what to make out of. They included dreams, visions and supernatural movements of objects. She was wondering if it could relate to a family loss that she never took time to truly grieve over.  I didn’t have much time to speak with her as she had to return to her manager duties at work, and I had delicious mango sorbet bon bons about to start melting in my car.  So I just gave her a quick loving advice and promised her I would write an article about grief and using the art of self-love to heal and go through the process.

I took a few minutes to think about and meditate on this, and right away I started to remember the times of experiencing my own grief and other people’s stories of their grieving.

The most healing yet the hardest part of grieving is actually allowing yourself to do it.

In an early age, I experienced a lot of trauma after my parents divorce and I had developed a habit of avoiding grief at all cost so that I wouldn’t have to experience anger, resentment, bitterness, pain and sorrow ever again. But the more I tried to avoid grief and pain, the more it seemed to show up in my life.

Growing up, I also didn’t get to spend much time with most of my family members, so when grandpa and my two grandmas passed away I didn’t feel a great sadness or loss.  I cried in the thoughts of not seeing them again, as I loved them all very much, but at the same time, I felt at peace, knowing they were not suffering the physical pain from their illnesses anymore. I basically viewed grief as the enemy and I certainly didn’t want to spend very much time dealing with. I had a very strong belief that quickly moving on was the better alternative.

So often we don’t want to deal with our emotions. Maybe we think it will make us look weak, or perhaps we are just too busy with our lives and work, and there is just no space to process our heavy emotions.  And overtime they end up tucked away and hidden in the deepest places of our hearts.  We tend to place so much emphasis these days on always feeling good, being positive and vibrating high, that too often we deny, hide, and repress negative feelings, which actually leads to self-destruction. In order to experience true freedom, absolute joy and contentment in our lives, we must learn to face all of our emotions, even the “not-so-good-feeling” ones. Every part of our experience has something to teach us and if we’re not paying attention, then we can easily miss very important information and the missing pieces to the puzzle of life.

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“To be happy with yourself, you’ve got to lose yourself now and then.” ~ Bob Genovesi

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11084856_1581263142090509_359165366_nEveryone grieves differently

Grieving is a highly personal and very individual experience. How you experience grief depends on many factors, including your character, personality and coping style, your life experience, your religious views, and the nature of the loss.  Grief is often the result of the loss of love. When we love someone and we suddenly lose that person – this includes ourselves! – grief is what remains. If we’ve had that grief our whole lives, we may not even know that the pain we feel is grief, and we may not know why we’re grieving.  Sometimes experiencing grief is just a very subtle feeling of that familiar lump in your throat and/or that heavy rock on top of your chest, you may have learned to ignore. And other times it is very intense, like when we suddenly lose a loved one, go through a romantic breakup or when you were denied, rejected or cast away for whatever reason.

For me it consciously happened when my beloved cat passed away. Unlike with my family, I got to spend every single day with her,  for almost five years, usually 24/day, and she was my little animal soulmate and my best furry friend.  She was 23 years old, and I always knew from the start that she would leave this world soon, but nothing could prepare me for the experience of such intense grief.  Although this time, as the creative artist of self-love I was able to discover all the right tools to assist me through the healing process.

So if you are reading this and you think you are experiencing grief, this is my invitation for you.  I invite you to feel your grief fully and to be present with it.  Observe your grief, but most of all – Don’t you shy away from it! Get to know grief and makes friends with it.  Invite it in and pull up an extra chair at the table.  Have a conversation with it, ask questions and turn it inside out and upside down. Become so familiar with it that every time grief shows up unexpected, you know just what to do. Because grief does not let you know when it’s coming. It arrives uninvited and wanting your full attention.

Self-love, self-love, self-love. (Oh, and did I say self-love?)

The experience of grief or the sudden shock of a loss can be extremely intense on all of our bodies – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Therefore, while you’re grieving, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself.  Your bodies need to be cared for, in order to handle such trauma. The stress of a major loss can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves, but looking after your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this difficult time. Self-love and self-care is very personal, so you will need to listen to your body to understand what it really needs, but in the meantime, here is a few things you can do:

You have to truly love yourself. Love will make this process go more quickly. Love will let you not buy into the remaining stories in the dark matter moving out of you. Those stories are lies. Love is the light that reveals that lie and helps you to heal into the radiant being you truly are.

  • Face your emotions and feelings!!! (This is so important!) You can try to suppress your grief, but you can’t avoid it for a very long time. In order to heal, you have to acknowledge the pain and any suffering that you may be experiencing. Trying to avoid emotions or feeling of sadness only prolongs the healing process. Unresolved grief can also lead to complications such as health problems, nightmares or confusing-repetitive dreams, substance abuse, depression or anxiety. And it can go on for years!
  • Express your feelings in a tangible or creative way. Write about your grief in a journal. If you’ve lost a loved one, write a letter saying the things you never got to say; make a photo collage celebrating the person’s life; or if you feel guilt over some unresolved disagreements and misunderstandings, use the Hoʻoponopono, an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness
  • Look after your physical health. The mind and body are connected. When you feel good physically, you’ll also feel better emotionally. Combat stress and fatigue by getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising and taking exceptional priority in self-care by soaking in flower baths.  
  • Cry!!! Cry until you can not cry anymore! Crying is totally normal, it is healing, and should not be suppressed. Crying is the tool the body and your nervous system uses to clear out and release old stagnant emotional energy. So if you are going through grief, know that tears are healing and after you have an authentic cry you will feel much better. Let the tears of crying wash away the pain of the past and allow you to reclaim your essential energy. Don’t use alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of grief or lift your mood artificially!
  • Don’t let anybody tell you how to feel, not even yourself. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry, to yell at the heavens, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh, to find moments of joy, and to let go when you’re ready.
  • Be prepared for grief “triggers.” Anniversaries, holidays, and milestones can reawaken memories and feelings. Be prepared for a possible emotional rollercoaster, and know that it’s completely normal. If you’re sharing a holiday or lifecycle event with other relatives, talk to them ahead of time about their expectations and agree on loving strategies to honor what you are going through.

Grieving process takes time. Tragedy plus time equals comedy.

Healing happens gradually and it really can’t be hurried or forced. There is no right or wrong timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. Some take years to overcome the pain. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.

The five stages of grief:

  • Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
  • Anger: Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
  • Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
  • Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  • Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

Get support

The single most important factor in healing from loss is having the support of other people. Even if you aren’t comfortable talking about your feelings under normal circumstances, it’s important to express them when you’re grieving. Sharing your loss makes the burden of grief easier to carry. Wherever the support comes from, accept it and do not grieve alone. Connecting to others will help you heal.

This too shall pass.

Just Like everything else, all suffering will go away eventually, until one day it will return again.

The greatest thing about grief is that it helps us grow up. It matures us. It brings wisdom and enlightenment. It strengthens our spirit. It teaches us to love and let go.

We learn we can go through hard times, and with little effort the sun shines again. We can take off our shoes and touch toes to sand and run on the beach, knowing that we made it through. Our happiness never really went away—it still exists inside of us—yet, we are remembering it anew. Fresh, transformed, aliveness engages us again. The colorful rainbow of our emotional beingness.

I hope you enjoyed learning another great tool for self-love and a new way to love and take care of yourself and your family! If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

With love & gratitude,

hannib-sig

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