Mourning is a roller coaster. Whether it’s a breakup, a change of path, because one of our loved ones has left, we have all experienced, in some way, what it means to be in mourning.
It is that process that comes after living a painful loss, where life, as we know it until that moment, changes completely, taking a different turn and taking us to the most painful depths of our souls. The moments of calm, seem to intermingle with anger, sadness, confusion and we are doing the best we can, to return to normal, without realizing that, perhaps, the same concept of normality has been transformed forever.
It is such an important process, that we have to live fully, because when we do not do it, we do not fully heal, we encyst, we keep on carrying that weight. Most of us do not know what to do exactly as we go through it. Many, even feel guilty for feeling so much sadness or pain and feel that this is not a sufficient reason to stop along the way, to take care of themselves, to heal.
It is important to clarify that grief does not occur only when someone dies. Throughout our lives, we can go through different mourning periods, for different situations and it is key that we can identify it and, in addition, allow us to live it, with awareness, and, especially, a lot of compassion and love towards ourselves.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, in her book, “On Death and Dying” (1969), explained the 5 stages of mourning, which we all go through. They do not occur in a linear manner, and each individual lives them with greater or lesser intensity, depending on the intensity of the bond, the circumstances surrounding the loss, psychological, emotional and mental factors.
Being clear about these stages can, perhaps, help many to know that they are not alone, that what they are experiencing is completely normal and that, inevitably, this too shall pass.
This is said to be the first stage. We tend to deny reality, initially, because it is deeply painful for us to accept it. Denial involves rejecting consciously or unconsciously what we are experiencing at that moment. It is, perhaps, a way we use to survive and manage all the emotions that arise with the idea of losing what we love forever.
When we learn that someone we love has died, or we know that the loss of something will change our lives forever, we can ask ourselves why this has happened to us, and reality as such loses meaning. We feel that we can not continue like this. By going through denial, our being is adapting to the new reality that we are facing. It is normal that in these moments the memories of what has happened are revived, again and again because it is the way in which we process that the situation actually happened.
When we come out of denial and realize that the loss has really happened, we connect with intense anger. Feeling anger is something completely normal throughout the grieving process, however, during this stage it is much more accentuated. We feel that life has failed us, taking away that which is so important to us.
How to feel anger is something that is not so socially accepted and, sometimes, it can even awaken guilt, it is vital that the person who is in mourning can know that it is normal and healthy to feel and express all the emotions that are presented.
Through anger, things can be processed much better and it is very important that the people around the person who is hurting allow him to express himself fully, since unmanaged rage can trigger various deeper problems, both physical, mental and emotional.
Here, the key word is hope. The person who goes through grief, in the midst of all the emotions they feel, seeks to make religious promises, life changing decisions, or emotional exchanges, with the idea that their loved one remains. This is a defense mechanism that, once again, seeks to protect the person from fully feeling the painful situation that they are facing.
During this stage you can feel a lot of frustration when you realize that the relationship with the loved one or the situation will never be the same as before. It is full of questions, of wondering if things could have been different, if in fact he did enough or not. Many scenarios arise in our minds, and in our hearts, as a last attempt to mitigate the immense pain caused by the loss.
The time has come to really understand that there is no turning back. That being is gone forever, that situation is over, that chapter has been closed. And, precisely, it is at this moment that all the great weight of the lived reality falls on us.
The people tend to be very isolated at this stage and fear, sadness and uncertainty are some of the most prevalent feelings. There is emptiness, there is impotence, there is an absolute exhaustion.
This stage is so important and so necessary. It is what allows us to fully experience reality and skip it, only brings an even greater degree of suffering. Many people prefer not to feel discomfort or even get to falsely recover quickly, to avoid really connecting with the pain. Perhaps, they feel that they must be strong for other members of the family and all this makes them not allow themselves to feel with intensity, the diverse emotions that want to develop themselves.
Here, we accept what has happened. We allow ourselves to continue enjoying life, although what we love so much is no longer present. It is relearning to live day to day and to let the will to live come back to us.
Living from acceptance does not mean that we are completely well or that we no longer care what we have lived. It is, precisely, to make peace with the idea that this process that we have lived will always accompany us. Is to be able to say yes to life with everything that has brought us. It is to honor the destiny of that being we love so much with peace.
The guilt, the doubts, the impotence go, little by little disappearing and arrives with it a new feeling of peace, where we know that there are things that we can not control, that the cycle of life is, precisely that, a cycle.
Each Duel is Important
There are many ways to manage grief. Performing symbolic rituals is of great help. In most cultures when a human being dies, wakes and burials are performed, which helps those who survive to process things. However, there are other types of experiences, such as the death of a pet, the loss of a baby, a breakup, moving to another country, a job dismissal, whose mourning processes are less frequently accepted and, therefore, lived.
The invitation is to remember that absolutely all mournings are valid and that all must be crossed, felt, lived. There are many ways of doing it. One, without a doubt, is to have therapeutic support, in order to acquire the necessary tools to be able to manage the new situation we are facing.
We can write a letter, plant a tree, get some jewel or object that represents what we have lost, go to a support group, make a donation. Do whatever is necessary for us that symbolizes honoring that being or situation that is no longer part of our lives.
If you are experiencing grief, remember, you are not alone. It’s okay to ask for help if you need it. That it is important that you tuck yourself, that you pamper yourself, that you listen to yourself. Be very patient with yourself. And lovely. And respectful. And remember that all this pain you feel, too, will pass.