How can you stop Overwhelming Grief?





How can you stop grieving?

Where do you turn? What do you do? How do you change overwhelming grief into comfort, peace of mind. It’s a tough process, no question. 

I remember going to a bereavement support group. I was sitting in a circle of grief-stricken people, most of whom had also lost a spouse. There were a few who were mourning siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, but not the majority.

Losing a spouse is a far more traumatic experience for most people. It’s like losing a part of oneself. As a couple you were in constant contact no matter where you were. Living together obviously, but when away from each other you’d text or call: “just leaving, see you in 20 minutes”, “sorry, meeting running late, will text when on my way home”. 

Now there’s a vacuum, an emptiness where a warm human body used to be. Overwhelming sorrow and heartache literally turn you inside out. Some days all I wanted to do was curl up in a little ball and hide from the outside world.

Overwhelming feelings of loss

Back to my bereavement group. One lady stood up and announced, “I’m sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.” I could relate, instantly. She went on, “every morning I wake up and feel like I’ve been slapped in the face. He’s gone, he’s never coming home. It’s sickening!” She sat back down in her chair with a thump. 

Oh, I so got it. Those first few seconds when you wake up; sunlight streams through your window and you eagerly anticipate a brand new day. Then Wham! The remembering. Loss slaps you in the face, yet again, making you feel like running to the bathroom to hurl.

But how to get back on track?

How to feel human again and free of that constant pain of loss, that raw feeling that nothing can take away.

Baby steps. Slowly. You can’t go around or jump over the grief process. You have to go through it. It hurts. It sucks. I hate it. As the popular saying goes “you have to feel the feelings”. 

Ignoring or suppressing your hurt feelings will only erase them for a short time. Like a wave, a tidal wave, they will return with a vengeance, knocking you down and leaving you feeling shaky and tearful. And then you still have to deal.

What I found helpful in those first months after my husband died, was to try shifting my focus. I made a conscious effort to draw my attention to something else. It’s not the same as stuffing feelings way down deep, it’s moving sideways, shifting, taking a step away, and placing the attention on something else. 

The good news is – it does work. The bad news – only for a little while.

A New Beginning

But – it’s a new beginning, a new way of thinking. The more you can practice shifting away from heartache and loss, the easier it will be to let go of those awful feelings and make room for some light at the end of the tunnel.

As time goes by, there will be more and more periods where your attention stays on whatever you allow it to: something you’re creating, selling your home, shopping, playing music, baking cookies, chatting with neighbors, taking yoga or tai chi or just lighting a candle and breathing deeply for a few minutes. It doesn’t matter what the activity or focus of attention is. 

It’s the process of moving away from grief to a smidgen of calm; of peace of mind, of Comfort and Hope.

The Path of Acceptance

Baby steps is the way to go. Once you’ve taken that first step the rest will follow. Once you take your focus off that deep wound death has inflicted, you’ve created a shift in consciousness, a pathway for Light to enter. And that’s enough to start the healing process.

As we reach for that glimmer of Light and hang on tight, the terrible darkness recedes and a soothing ray of Hope streams in, encouraging us to surrender and begin to walk the Path of Acceptance.

Signs from the Other Side offering Comfort and HopeWendy Willow is author of Silver Butterfly Wings and Reading Between The Lines.

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