I have found that lately, many people I know feel that they are grieving. They are seized with a sense of grief, loss, foreboding, sorrow and sadness. There isn’t any one reason for the grief – it’s more of a combination. Regardless of the reason, grief has the power to steal from us our sense of happiness and zest for life. If we don’t pay attention to our grief, the results can have disastrous affects on our mental health. Thus, we need to be very patient and loving as we work through the process of grief and mourning.
The Mourner’s Bill of Rights for Grief
I was introduced me to this concept of the Mourner’s Bill of Rights, from the Center for Loss. http://www.Centerforloss.com People don’t even realize, when they are grieving, that they are allowed certain kindnesses and dignities. The Mourner’s Bill of Rights gives us the ability to be kind to ourselves and treat our soul with the respect through the process. You can find more information about the Mourner’s Bill of Rights here. https://www.centerforloss.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/MBR.pdf
What I love about the Bill of Rights is that it frames the grieving process and reminds the mourner that we are allowed to give ourselves space to feel, deal with the grief, and eventually heal from the grief.
The First Right – You Are Allowed to Experience Your Own Unique Grief
My friend took a vacation to Mexico right after her husband died. She had an amazing time, so she said, and gave herself space to process her grief in her own way. Her friends gave her a hard time about taking a vacation so soon after his death. But because she knew of her right to grieve in her own way, she was not swayed by their condemnation. She understood that it didn’t ‘look normal’ for her to seemingly enjoy her change of scenery. And yes, she was well aware that she would still have to ‘do the time to mourn,’ as she called it. But she wasn’t ready to face the acute grief, so she did what she felt she had to do to be able to grieve in her own way.
Stay Clear of Shame during the Grief Process – Whether that Shame Comes From Within or From Others
What I also like about the Mourners Bill of Rights is that it reminds us that we get to make our own decision about how we wish to grieve. Or even if we wish to grieve. I know many people whose relationships were so complicated, that they felt they didnt have to grieve a loved one at any set time or in any proscribed way. I’ve known people who have had a hard time dealing with the fact that they didn’t want to grieve the person because the relationship was so toxic and disturbing to them. Some have found that the grief they’ve experienced was not for the person who died, but rather they grieved for the loss of the unrealized potential of the relationship. Whatever you’re grieving about – there is no shame in feeling (or even not feeling!) the way you do.
The Necessity of Self-Compassion During the Grieving Process
We live in a society which doesn’t give us true space to process our grief. In American workplaces, the typical amount of time a person is given off for bereavement ranges anywhere from one day to three days. In rare cases, one may even get a week off. But for most, it is usually one day. A person experiencing acute grief cannot return to work that quickly and be expected to perform their work with any sense of normalcy. But just because our society doesn’t give us the space to mourn, doesn’t mean we can’t carve that out for ourselves.
I cannot stress enough how important this aspect of grieving is – the necessity of being gentle with ourselves during our process. Our psyche is so vulnerable after we experience loss, that if we don’t protect our souls, we are in danger of doing real damage. We must be compassionate to ourselves during our process. And thus, if you forget this truth, I remind you to be compassionate to yourself during your grief journey.
A Story About Grief
I had a miscarriage in December of 2006. I then had to return to work and perform a baby naming a few weeks later. It was probably one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my professional life. Although I cognitively understood that doing this baby naming was my job, I had to remain professional and do my best to not make their celebration of life about me and my loss, I still found that internally I had a really hard time. I wanted to break down and didn’t know how I would do it. Somehow I made it through and performed a meaningful and loving lifecycle for this family. But I grieved and hurt later. It was okay to feel this acute pain. It was okay that their celebration had nothing to do with me, but it did trigger the feeling of tremendous sorrow. I honored the pain, worked through it so I could live life. But realize that when we lose someone we love, the pain doesn’t go away, it just changes form.
Allowing Ourselves The Gift of Time to Work Through Grief
It is important to understand that we won’t “get over the loss.” That is not the goal of grieving. For some of us, we will never stop feeling the pain of losing our loved ones. However, we can work through the process of grief so that we are not stuck in it. And that process takes, time, patience and space to be able to do so. That’s why it is so important to have support during times of grief. If I don’t have the space to mourn, grieve and heal in my own way, it truncates the process. That’s why I urge you to take the time you need to heal. Don’t let another person, or society dictate how you “should” process your loss – only you can do that. And you have that right.
Please leave a comment if you’d like to share about any feelings of loss you’re currently going through. You are not alone. Until we meet again, may you be blessed on your spiritual journey.
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