I’ve had the honor of knowing some magnificent human beings. I’ve also had the honor to witness the passing of some magnificent people as well.
Anyone who has experienced loss can tell you, the deeper we love the greater our loss. This fact has kept many otherwise courageous people from pursuing intimacy, keeping themselves from diving fully into their relationships. I’m sure you’ve heard the old axiom, “it’s better to have loved and lost than never loved at all.” Well, this may well be true, but it’s easier said than done.
My mom died when I was 22. She was a drug addict and alcoholic. She was also my favorite person. I adored her. I watched her suffer from bipolar manic depression and slowly kill herself with alcohol as I grew up. Even though I had years and years to contemplate her death, I was completely unprepared when the time came. I felt stuck, trapped in the heartbreak and agony of losing her. I had so many hard feelings and didn’t know what to do with any of them.
Grief is painful, raw, confusing and can last a long time. I’m here to say, it’s also not all bad. It can even be transformed into our most prized gifts.
Here are 3 ways to turn your grief into a gift:
1) Lean into Gratitude
Grief can feel like a dense fog, it’s easy to get lost in dark feelings and thoughts. We can become angry, shut down, depressed, fixated, or paralyzed by the immensity of grief. I’ve learned that even on the glummest day I can make a choice to reach for my gratitude, not to invalidate or dismiss my sadness, but rather to remember that both can co-exist. Actually, grief can be a gateway directly to my gratitude. When I think to myself “If I miss them this much, I must also be blessed to have loved so deeply”, I develop a deeper appreciation for my life and loved ones. Focusing on the good memories I have, holding them like treasures, keeps me from getting stuck in anger and resentment during my grief process.
2) Channel Your Grief into Action
I once heard, “Grief is love with nowhere to go”, and have found this perspective quite useful in processing loss. This keeps us from staying sad as a way of honoring their memory. We don’t have to be sad forever, the possibilities are endless when it comes to ways we can honor them. You can channel that love into something beautiful and meaningful by use ceremony, self improvement, and/or volunteer work. It’s incredibly comforting to know our loved ones live on not just in memory, but also in deed. The most important thing is that however you channel your grief, it feels honoring to your loved one’s memory and feels healing and uplifting for you. The actions I take to honor my loved ones/ ancestors are some of the most joyful and self-esteem building experiences I’ve had.
3) Practice embracing death
Losing a loved one has a way of getting to the core of how we really feel about life, death, and our spiritually. We may be surprised by how little our how much our faith is there to comfort us in these times. Whatever you feel, try not to judge yourself. Instead, take this opportunity to reflect, find a perspective that brings you comfort, and learn more about yourself. What do you really want your life story to be? What is your definition of a good death? Can I trust that death is ok and those I love are not completely lost? The clarity gained from answering these questions can become a priceless gift that guides your life towards true fulfillment and peace.
However you choose to process your grief, remember that you’re not alone. There are others that know what it’s like to lose someone. You have options, support, and with help your grief can transform into a precious gift. Want more support? Check out www.joyfulcactus.com and schedule your free initial coaching session.