By Shannon Calder
Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.
~ William Shakespeare
What is grief?
First you have to decide that you have lost something. This is sometimes where people get stuck. A patient said to me, “I am losing my keys constantly.” Knowing this patient’s situation I asked, “What have you really lost?” This was a moment of realization for her. I saw it in the stunned way she looked at me. Her reply was “my hope.”
Sometimes loss is obvious and sometimes it is not. Simply, you need to step out of your resistance and denial or simple unconsciousness, decide you have lost something, something you needed, something you need to grieve.
Paula D’Arcy, author of When People Grieve wrote, “Grief is the heart’s response to any deep loss.” I would argue that the most obvious home for grief is the heart but that grief is housed in our body, spirit, mind and soul. This is how someone can lose something and not be conscious of their need to grieve for it. Be mindful of your inside landscape and you will be mindful of what it needs.
For me grief feels like something inside of me is trying to drown me and the one thing that kept me from drowning is the thing I have just lost. Then, a sense of powerlessness pervades. I know that grief will not drown me literally and that I am not powerless literally however, my imagination knows what it knows.
How does grief feel to you?
I would like to suggest you not only use your words for this. Words are often where most of us feel quite comfortable and they also get us up in our brains. We’re looking for what gets us down in our gut, in our soul.
So I’m going to suggest you share your words here in the comment section but perhaps those words can describe your process of what your grief looks like, feels like, smells like, etc. You can look in magazines for pictures, on television for characters or movies that touch this deeper emotion in you, look for art work or artists, athletics, pieces of music and don’t forget pieces of music without words, those pieces that touch you in that guttural way.
If you become afraid, step out of the place you are in with these sensory triggers and breathe into a single breath of consciousness within you and do something comforting or even ritualistic like checking your email, something that gets you back into your brain. Then when you feel like working with grief again, go back to your senses.
And please, let us all know what you did and how it went.
Paula D’Arcy, author of When People Grieve, is an internationally known expert in grief counseling and pulls from her personal resources of having lost her husband and daughter