Coping With Grief
Is it possible to turn tragedy into triumph, not matter what the situation is? Is there always going to be a silver lining? Is there really a seed of equivalent opportunity in every setback?
These are all things I superficially believed until tragedy upheaved my life out of nowhere.
I was going throughout my life, climbing and falling a bit. Climbing so more. Learning, growing. Profiting.
Things were steadily going up for my life. Of course not in linear fashion, it never does. But overall, my inner and outer world were both showing steady improvement. Especially compared to two years ago.
Anyways, it seemed to steady. Like something was going to happen. And, cross my heart, I felt as if it was going to be a death of either my mom or brother.
The night of the day when I felt that feeling, I received a call from my brothers sister, as he is my half brother.
It was a mixture of slurred emotionally soaked words. And confusion. But the contents of the message were very evident.
That my brother was in the hospital on life support. He had a seizure, which he had problems with for most of his life.
He had another one, a big one, and felt and hit his head during this episode.
He was transferred to the hospital. His brain swelling quickly.
Because of repeated use of drugs and alcohol, over the last 20 years, his body was not producing platelets fast enough to aid in blood clotting.
They removed part of his skull to relieve pressure, but the bleeding was not stopping very well.
I got a call in the morning that the last CAT scan was not good.
That he would have permanent brain damage and never be the Ryan I knew him to be.
We had two choices. One was to put him into surgery to try and stop the swelling and bleeding. Which could involve taking out some of his brain.
This option MAY save this life. But he would be left permanently brain damaged. And most likely need heavy assistance the rest of his life.
The other was to take him off life support.
Myself and his sister had to make the decision. Within 15 minutes of getting that call, we had to have an answer back to the doctor.
We agreed, that the best thing to do would to be to take him off life support.
He was not a fighter. He hadn’t wanted to be on this earth in a very long time. Otherwise, we would have reconsidered.
Anyways, I asked to keep him on for a couple more hours so I could come and see him one last time.
He died shortly thereafter.
How to Cope With Grief
#1 – Authentically Process It (No Judgement)
The fact of the matter is that everyone grieves differently. But the key to doing so is to go into full allowing mode.
That whatever your feeling is perfectly fine to be felt. Give yourself complete permission to feel whatever it is that your are experiencing.
They talk about the stages of grief being:
I’ve been flirting with the line between Apathy and Anger. Apathetic about everything in life. But also very angry at him.
The main thing is to give yourself complete freedom with the thoughts that come up too.
Most of this process has not be pleasant, but it isn’t meant to be. At first.
Don’t judge yourself for these thoughts, no matter how bad they are.
There is a beauty in giving yourself full permission to process anything without judgement. This process has also gotten me through this stage rapidly. As today is day 3 and I feel myself moving out of apathy, almost completely.
But to be real with you, just to emphasize giving ourself permission to be authentic with this process, at one point I had the following thought:
“I think you are a bitch. You couldn’t finish the job of killing yourself, so I had to do it for you. I had to do your dirty work and live with it the rest of my life.”
I know this is dark, but I was OK with feeling those feelings and thoughts.
So without judging yourself and without judging the feelings and thoughts, go through the process.
The less you judge, the faster you leave the stages of grief behind you.
See yourself as a vessel to which feelings are taking on a life of their own. Expressing themselves completely and then dying off. You are not playing any part in taming them down, or manipulating or suppressing them.
All your job is to do is to simply be with the process. And don’t beat yourself up one bit about what you are feeling and thinking. It will be counterintuitive to the healing process.
#2 This Event Is Not Your Identity
The more we identify with something, the more our egoic needs are being met. The ego feeds on creating a story about who we are. Then holding onto that story as tight and as long as possible.
The more we do that, the more it becomes intertwined into our identities.
So with grief, the more we identify with it, the longer it will take to get past.
We all know people who have been replaying the same story, over and over again. This is a life that can be full of pain.
Painful events will happen. But we need to see it as an event, a happening. Not something that DEFINES us.
If we do, we will be chained to it. Relieving all of it’s emotions over and over again. To validate this new us. Mostly for reasons of getting attention and approval from people.
Which don’t get me wrong, can feel great. And yet, we need to ask ourselves if we would rather want long term peace. By not identifying with the event. Or do we want short term gratification? At the cost of our health and well being?
I am working on always choosing the second option.
Don’t Be Superficial
There is a need to tame down trauma. Look at the positive side and try to deny how shitty our situation is. This can have a place if it is coming from an authentic standpoint.
And yet, if we want to really move past trauma, we can’t be inauthentic.
We need to be truthful about every aspect about the experience. And then we can move to a place where we truly see the bright side of things.
But if we force this superficialness into the process, in order to simply fake feeling better, than we will not move past it as fast as we want or need to.
We will wallow in sorrow without even knowing it. As we have faked ourselves to believing that we are over it.
Be real with the reality of each and every day that you are processing with and dealing with your trauma.
#3 Let Go Of Toxic Emotions
When it comes to trauma, if we don’t process correctly, we can really run the risk of suppressing negatively charged emotions in our body. These can wreak havoc.
And my theory is that all disease comes from negative emotions. These negative emotions are anchors for thoughts that aren’t supporting our health and wellbeing. And they wreak havoc on a subconscious level.
Without knowing it, they can cause big problems in our lives.
That is why it is so crucial to letting these thoughts and feelings go.
It is essentially like dropping something you have been holding in your had too long.
It really is that easy. Don’t judge the process, don’t judge the feeling or thought. Simply just DECIDE to drop it.
Here is a guide to how to let go of any thing you want to that I wrote just for you:
#4 Be Patient With The Process
I know you may hate me for saying this, and yet it is true. I convinced myself that I was halfway through the 5 stages of grief the first day.
I thought that because I work on myself a lot, that I was exempt to the process in a way. It is a big form of denial that I took on. Again which is the first stage of grief.
I did and currently do feel incredibly tired. But I have accepted the fact that it is going to take as long as it is going to take.
And like the old adage goes, “What you resist, persists.”
I am trying to not push myself through my emotions. I am almost trying to set myself on auto-pilot and allow myself to go at the pace I am meant to go at.
#5 Accept That Nothing Will Help At First
This is our most negative point, but it needs to be said. You will go through a time where no one and nothing gets you. People will try to help. They will say things to try and make you feel better. But it will most likely not help at all.
You will go through points of feeling as if the world doesn’t get you. That no one knows what you are going through. It will feel as if you are on the inside of a room, where everyone is looking in.
You will feel extremely alone.
This is heavily based on the immediate onset of grief.
Again, it will pass. But straight up, we need to accept the fact that it is going to suck at first. You can be in a room of 1000 people and feel completely alone.
#6 – Monitor Your Body Posture
So much of what we feel is based on how we are holding our bodies. We can put ourselves into certain states based on how we are moving.
That is why we feel so great after working out because we are in an upright position. Chest out feeling proud. I mean that is the Superman stance!
When you are feeling down, give a quick scan of your body. Notice if you are holding yourself in a position that is more conducive to grief.
When you catch yourself doing so, pull your shoulders back. Put your hands on your hips in a power pose. Put yourself in a bodily position that is conducive to you already being beyond the grief. Stand triumphant.
# 7 Lean Into Faith
I used to be absolutely against this. I thought it was absolute hogwash! And yet there comes a time where we all need to answer to someone. And I don’t care if it is not real or there is no God. Learning in on a time where I felt completely helpless and apathetic helped me.
Forget the notion that God is some judgmental entity. Or that he is simply there to treat people good that praise and worship him. Do away with all the limiting beliefs that society and religion has instilled in us.
Simply ask for the strength that you need to get through the tough days. If you are like me, this will be tough, but it helped me. And I am literally the last person on earth that ever thought I would ask for help. No shame my friends.
#8 Celebrate The Good Things
For me, it was a death in the family, for you it may be the same or something different entirely. The faster I could shift to seeing the good, the better. Unfortunately we can’t bring anyone back. Or change any circumstance. What’s done is done.
And yet we can choose to spend our time trying to change the past, or we can simply let go and in my case, celebrate my bro’s life.
It can ease pain to reminisce on the the good times. It can help you process lower level emotions. By vibrating higher that the painful emotions that come with grief and loss.
I read a great article on how to celebrate ones life. Some of the tips I got from it were:
- Create a collage of your person.
- Plant a tree in your person’s name.
- Create memes of your person, funny and heartfelt ones to laugh off the pain.
- Engrave a bracelet or piece of jewelry with their name.
- Get a tattoo.
- Put a note in a bottle to the loved one and cast it out to sea.
- Create a capsule full of memories of your loved one and bury it.
- Enter a race that may involve a charity around a cause that your loved one died from.
- Get a painting done of your loved one and hang it in your house.
- Create a track list of all your loved ones favorite songs and bands and play it.
#9 Support Groups/Therapy
No matter how you slice it, loss and grief can be life altering. It can be incredibly hard to deal with it alone. Even if you have a good support group, sometimes friends an family are hard to connect to. Especially if they bring up emotions about your lost love one.
A neutral 3rd party can serve a great purpose to help us move on.
There is no shame in needing help. Professional guidance can get us through the toughest and most energy draining levels of grief. Allowing us to get a to a healthier place where we can start celebrating life and moving past our grief.
#10 Talk To Your Person
Just because someone is gone, doesn’t mean you can’t talk to them. If you are like me, then you may talk to this person more so than you did before they left this world.
Be real with them. If you miss them, tell them you miss them. If you are pissed at them, tell them exactly why. They will talk back.
I feel as if once we leave this plane, we exist only to help elevate the level of consciousness of this earth.
So the spirit of your loved one is now pure and part of a grander scheme of light and enlightment.
They will help you through it. I promise. Just keep talking to them. Don’t hold back. If you have hate in your heart, express the hell out of it.
And listen back for them. For us really missing our loved ones, or feeling guilty, they will often provide the only words we need to hear to help us move on from our grief.
#11 Refrain from “Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve”
We all do it. We start thinking about all the things we could have and should have done. Things that if we did so, would have changes the ultimate outcome of our loved ones.
And yet, I believe that we live in a world where everything happens for a reason. It may not seem clear at the time, but I truly do believe this. We often see why things happen much later on.
For example, my brother was heavily laden with darkness. I truly feel that he took family curses with him. And because he took it with him to his death, he lifted curses off the family for good.
His death brought new life for the family.
It will only prolong the process if we think about what we could’ve done differently. As I know there where many thoughts that brought regret to my experience. And yet, we are only human. We can’t be perfect. We can’t save everyone. No matter how hard we try.
Give yourself forgiveness. I guarantee, no matter what type of relationship you had with your person, that they would not want you to live in regret. They would want you to live your life to the fullest and milk every ounce of happiness out of your life before it is time to reunite with them.
If this helps, here is a list of forgiveness quotes that can help you move on and let go.
#12 Just Hang On
At the darkest of times during grief, you can feel the need to not want to exist anymore. If you felt like me, you may feel as if there is no purpose to life anymore. What’s the point?
But for me, I want to live life for my brother. Accelerate to new heights. Love my people and help my people get through this time. Dedicate big wins to my brother.
Start causes that can help people not reach the same demise.
I know it sounds unfeeling, but we can find purpose in death. Although our person is not around, we may be able to change so many lives because of it. Their legacy can live on this way.
#13 – This Too Shall Pass
I read in a book called Learned Optimism that the happiest people feel as if the worst things that happen to them, are only temporary things.
Let this be your mantra. THIS TOO SHALL PASS.
Allow yourself to be dragged to the depths of darkness that will inevitably come out of grief.
Feel it fully and know that it will pass. No matter how bad it hurts, there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep pressing on. You will get through this my friend.
#14 – Don’t Suppress, Express
It can be easy to stuff feelings when they are too painful. To not look at them. Refrain from processing them. Putting them off for another time.
I know I am guilty of this.
And yet if we are to move on from the pain of grief, we need to let this stuff out. If you have to, buy a punching bag, get aggressive. Yell, cry, break things. Whatever it truly takes to move on.
Journal out your thoughts, write poems or rhymes and listen to music that can evoke painful emotions so they can be come conscious. That is how we can process them fully and move on. These are anti-surpression tactics that can help us move on.
#15 – Plan Ahead For Trigger Events
There will be certain things that can bring up old feelings of grief. It can help us to identify things that will make us revert back to the trauma. Have a couple things that can help you mitigate the process.
Some things that can help can be:
Conclusion To Overcoming Grief
Although grief and loss is never easy to talk about, it must be dealt with. We are meant to thrive in this life. And grief can be a roadblock that can get in the way of our thriving.
I hope this article helped you, even if it was a tiny bit.
Share with the community here. Let me know if I can help you. Also, what tip helped you most. And if I missed anything on this list that has helped you, let us know about it in the comments.
Take care my friend. And again, this too shall pass.