Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Only Way To Heal Is To Feel

Once in a while, I find a great grief article that just nails it: concise, packed with realistic, helpful advice, and lots of keen insights. The following article from Chandra Alexander packs a lot into five key paragraphs. What really struck me was her fifth point, that you cannot think your way through grief — you must feel. As a guy, I had to learn how to feel my way through grief. Intellectualizing my way through grief came naturally, but it brought little relief. It was only after I learned feeling techniques like Focusing and Vipassana that I was able to complete the bulk of my grief work and to be at peace.

Anyway, without further ado, here's Chandra's excellent article:

Are You Grieving?

Are you grieving over the loss of a loved one? Whether you are around friends, family, acquaintances, or strangers, understand that grieving is a natural and normal part of life. If you are grieving and are having trouble being with others, here are a few ways to better deal with your loss.

  1. Grieving is a natural part of life – we grieve when we lose something we love.
    • For some reason, in the West, we deal with grieving, death and dying, as unspeakable subjects. It is as though we think if we don’t talk about them, they will go away.
    • But they don’t go away because they are inherent in life; the cycle of birth and death rages on.
    • Every death – the death of a loved one, the losing of a job, the ending of a relationship, even though it might have been dysfunctional, - summons up every other death. Judith Rossner says in her book August, "After the first death, there is no other."

  2. There is no "normal" timeframe to stop grieving – the grieving stops when you are done mourning.
    • If you surrender to the natural process of grieving, you will move through grieving and be done when you are done.
    • Everything is moving all the time. When you feel the passing of something, you allow yourself to grieve and give yourself permission to feel your sadness.

  3. Do not pretend to be "happy" if you are not.
    • Pretending is the opposite of authenticity.

  4. Talk about the person you loved and lost... even if it makes others feel uncomfortable.
    • You have a right to talk about things you want to talk about as much as the next person.
    • It is not your job to make someone else feel comfortable.

  5. You cannot think your way through grief – you must feel.
    • I often say the only way to HEAL is to FEEL.
    • Thinking keeps the "feelings" in the head, in a very intellectual way, never allowing them to come down and rest in the heart
    • Until you are willing to feel your feelings of sadness, you can never move through the natural process of grieving.

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