Grief... is the response to loss. It can affect you physically, emotionally and your mental health. It is usually a word we use relating to the loss of a love one.
Most of us will suffer grief in our lifetimes. Each loss is different. Each with its own intricacies of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Sometimes we have all of those emotions in one day. We hope that eventually the pain will pass. That time heals everything. That the waves that crash over our heads will become less frequent, less ferocious. That life will go on and that the love that we had for that person will ultimately be the remaining taste in our mouths, not the way or the when of them dying. It doesn't take away the pain of the loss to be accepting of it.
But what do you do when the grief that you feel is for the person YOU once were?
The grief after a diagnosis of a life altering illness or disease.
The grief of an accident which changes your abilities.
The grief of the woman you were before a pregnancy. or once you become a parent.
The grief of the person you were before the job took everything out of you.
The 'empty nest' grief when you are no longer the parent you once were.
The grief of a relationship/ marriage ending.
The grief of menopause / mid life crisis.
The research I did seemed to focus on dealing with the elements but not on the grief of losing oneself. Almost is a case of 'well these things happen, deal with it'. I wanted to know how to. I can research how to deal with the death of a loved one or a pet. How to get over a relationship breakdown, That menopause is a natural part of life. Children grow up and leave home. The illness / accident just is what it is. But what about the grief of the person you once were before these things 'happened' to you?
I'm going to use the word grief, maybe there is a better word to use but I think it sums up the intensity people can feel for the loss of the person they once were. The role they once had. The lifestyle they enjoyed. Maybe it is a case of accepting that no one is without their own grief. Their own heartache. And pain. How we choose to survive through these times until we can find peace is our own journey.
But I think we should learn how to have coping mechanisms for grieving. This is what happens to us so lets have an idea of how to deal with it, rather than waking up one day and realising that we haven't dealt with something that fundamentally is pretty straightforward. It shouldn't be hidden. Or 'pull your socks up and get on with yourself' nor wallow in a victims mentality but look it straight in the eye and say 'ok. I am not the same as I was. Ok. I miss the person I was. I really really do.' If we learn that it is a simple process then maybe life will be a bit easier for us as we navigate the huge changes that we have to experience during our lifetime.
I spoke to my partner about writing this piece and he said that I needed to watch a program which he'd watched whilst I was at work called 'Peter: The Human Cyborg' about a man diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease. I watched it and it was, as expected, hugely inspirational especially the part where Stephen Hawkins another scientist who had MND said, 'focus on what you can do and not on what you can't because if you get too focused and grieve too much on what you can't and you're grieving for all the life and all the things you used to do that is psychologically corrosive.'
And I paused and repeated that over and over again.
I did a bit more research on Peter, who is just adorable to how he is coping and he isn't. If the piece I read is to be believed is true, he is thriving. His life is different and he is in the phase where he no longer thinks back on his previous self but who he is now, with acceptance and love.
Maybe we all need to give ourselves time to catch up with changes.
I work with a lot of people who are navigating all sorts of elements within their lifetimes. Not only are they dealing with the fall outs but also the loss of their selves. So how do you accept that you are no longer the person you were? Can you find the positives? Can you navigate the grief and can you let go what you don't need and take with you all that you do.
So Peter's story is remarkable but then so many people's are. For each charity which has been started, for each book written there is someone's story who didn't want their experiences to be for nothing. That somehow their grief and their knowledge might, just maybe, help someone else. Change technology. Change the world in the way we see it. You can't expect everyone to understand everyone's issues so speak out and use your voice to help people. Maybe the grief we feel is not only for the person we once were but the comfort of the life we once had before we were called again for greatness. Before we had to pull on our big girls and boys pants on, step up and be grown ups. Because in the words of Glennon Doyle, 'We do hard things'.
So if you are dealing with a major turning point in your life and you recognise that actually one of the hardest things is that you are missing you, the person you once were lets see if we can find some things to help.
That you may be grieving for a part of yourself that has gone.
Use words. If you feel a bit broken and have as much oomph as a wet teacloth then sit in a quiet place, put your hands on your knees in a relaxed position with your palms facing up and repeat,
'I call all of my power back to me now. I am whole and complete.'
If your mind wanders to previous places, relationships, situations then repeat the words,
'I call all of my power back to me now. I am whole and complete.'
Om mani padme hum
A beautiful ancient Buddhist mantra. Repeat as many times as needed.
Another way of saying Mantras is to use a Mala. A Mala is a string of beads usually 108 similar to a rosary. By repeating the mantra the amount of times of the beads is to help the mantras resonate within you. Helps with finding a meditative place. There are some beautiful ones made out of crystals (silverandsagejewlery.com are gorgeous but are flown from America so watch the cost of shipping) or make your own by stringing together 108 beads and finish off with a bigger one so you know where you started.
Each crystal resonates with a different vibration and what works with one person doesn't with someone else so I'm not going to write all the variations which may be helpful.
However Clear Quartz, Rose quartz and Amethyst will always be of help.
Friends, family, counsellor, therapist.
Try something completely new which you may not have had the time/ energy/ finances or inclination to do before. If you are no longer the old you then you can have some room to reinvent yourself and be the new you but with the added bonus of it being something which you always fancied trying.
Eg; Dance class, walking group, pottery, singing lessons, yoga retreat.
Write a journal. I have written another blog about the art of keeping a journal so head over and have a read if you feel it might help.