facebook twitter youtube google plus linkedin

Leaning Into Grief

Leaning Into Grief

By Christine MacMillan

Grief is something we would prefer to avoid. We don’t like thinking about it, yet alone talking about it.

So why would you want to lean into your grief, and what does that exactly mean?

We will, if we have not already, experience grief after the death of a loved one. If we’ve attached to and loved someone, then we will surely, but unwillingly, go through the grief process after their death. We will have no choice in the matter… grief will happen to us.

Grief is messy, incredibly painful, outside of our control and will affect our hearts, heads and bodies. It is not something anyone wants to experience. However, love and grief are the opposite sides of the same coin. Grief is inevitable after loving.

It’s certainly counterintuitive to want to feel pain, whether it be physical or emotional. Since it is more natural to move away from pain and not towards it. We find ways to keep busy or distracted, we numb ourselves with work or substances, or we talk ourselves out of feeling pain. Our mourning avoiding society supports and encourages us to “get over”, rush through or by-pass this natural process.

Yet, this is exactly what we must have the courage to experience.

This is the type of pain we must openly acknowledge, explore, feel and process for it to eventually lose its control over us and allow us to move toward creating a new life with purpose and meaning.

During the acute period of grief when we’re emerging from the shock and numbness, grief overshadows everything and the pain worsens. It is during this time we must resist the temptation to move away from the grief and instead learn ways to embrace it without becoming overwhelmed.

We must cultivate ways to keep grief center stage. It is only in this way that we can accomplish a very important grief task of acknowledging the painful reality. This takes us back to why would you want to move towards pain?

It is because the alternative leads to a far worse outcome.

As perplexing as it may seem, when you resist your intense grief feelings, they do not go away. Instead they linger and hurt more deeply when they resurface.

Although grief evolves over time, we must be careful to work on it in a healthy¬†way so that it does not evolve into something more complicated. When we choose to ignore or bypass the pain of grief, we’re left with unresolved grief which can make us feel “stuck” and unable to live a full life.

Leaning into your pain means having the courage to find healthy ways to express your feelings outside of yourself, or in other words, you mourn.

In this way, your intense grief feelings gradually diminish in intensity. They become subtle. They soften and blend into the new life you are creating.

You will then be able to hold your softened grief feelings tenderly in your heart along with your love.

Other Related Posts;

The following two tabs change content below.
Christine MacMillan is a social worker in private practice in Windsor, Canada and provides services to individuals suffering from depression and anxiety, workplace stress, adjustment to injury and illness, palliative care and end-of-life support. Christine has a special interest and training in dying, death and bereavement and works with family members in preparing them for the bereavement process during the end-of-life experience of a loved one. Christine has spoken on local radio shows and frequently presents workshops on stress, grief and bereavement.

Latest posts by Christine MacMillan (see all)