Grief is a natural emotional response to any type of change or transition that we experience in our lifetime. This means that as soon as we are born, we are experiencing grief. For example, the change from pregnancy to being born and the new mom from being pregnant and giving birth. Although these are great moments of celebration there is also the shadow side of changes. We can experience great joy and sadness at the same time.
When we experience a sudden loss, like a tragic death in the family or for many people recovering from Covid 19, the loss of a job or sense of safety and security in their environment we are thrown into the journey of grieving. Did you know that grieving and anxiety are part of the bereavement process? Grief naturally comes when we experience changes whether or not we choose those changes.
But so does anxiety. When we are experiencing a transition or change in our life our mind naturally starts to question and doubt. We may experience more “what if” questions or “why did this happen to me” and the lamenting begins. This is natural. It is our brain’s response to the changes that we are experiencing. The way we process these changes will determine how long and how deeply we will feel the anxiety. For instance, someone who embraces these changes and engages in emotional losses will feel less anxiety and will adapt to the changes quicker than someone who is resistant or refuses to engage with these hard emotions. This is why grief work is so important.
I challenge you to turn towards your grief. Lean into the emotions that you are experiencing, even if they feel overwhelming. Let yourself feel them and learn to express them. Journal or have a coffee with someone you trust and talk about what you are feeling. Turn to your expression of faith and find hope. Schedule time to yourself once a day to engage in those heavy emotions and listen to what your anxiety is saying. Your mind is trying to find a way to feel safe again while making the many changes that are taking place in your physical world. The more we engage with this process the quicker we will move into our new normal and find that grief is lessening, and the world feels safer again.
Unfortunately, Grief work doesn’t go away if we ignore it, numb it, or just try to move to the next thing in life. You cannot just hang tough or put on your big girl or boy pants and do life without grieving. You may manage for a time to avoid your grief, but it will eventually come out somewhere in your life in another way such as anger, frustration, irritation, or even addictions. We are born with a natural resiliency; just look at the joy that children bring in the worst situations. Doing the work that grief brings into our lives is a very important step to staying resilient.
Grief is a wonderful teacher. Grief teaches us valuable lessons that we cannot learn any other way. We are going to go through our grief journey so why not listen to what our grief is saying to us and make those adjustments? This is how we move through the anxiety in our grieving. If we don’t make those adjustments, we may find ourselves caught in anxiety or depression that we cannot get out of on our own.
If you are struggling with overwhelming grief or anxiety and cannot move out of these strong emotions, then seek some guidance through a grief coach or counselor. They are trained individuals who can sit in your anxiety and suffering with you until you can transition through the grief work that you must do.
If you or someone you know is stuck or struggling with anxiety or depression because of a life change or loss please reach out for help. Talk to someone who is trained in helping people get through these major life changes. There are so many resources in our communities that can help you or your loved ones to manage their grief and anxiety while they grow through these transitions. Sometimes love isn’t enough to help someone through but you could be the change that they need.
If you would like more information about grief groups, or individual counseling sessions, please contact me.
Kimberly Talmey RPC-c