My emotions and the emotions of my family are fairly tender as we are mourning the loss of our beloved Mom and Grandma. The older I get the more loss I’m experiencing, it’s just the inevitable part of life we all will experience a number of times. Life has it’s happy and moments where life is just flowing just right, and there are the parts of life that are so painful and difficult because of the love and affection we have for those that have departed from this earthly realm or maybe the end of a relationship or some other kind of loss.
I talk a lot about the power of our thoughts and emotions, and how they can affect our life. So here I am sailing the boat of grief. I liken grief to being in a boat. Sometimes we are in calm waters and things seem to be okay – in the background of it all there may be the lingering sadness as you are grieving the loss of someone you love. And then suddenly and oftentimes without any warning a huge wave of grief overcomes you and you find yourself in a river of tears.
How do I find peace and even joy in the midst of grief? It seems like an oxymoron, right?! It seems impossible to be able to find the peace and even joy when you are in deep mourning over the loss of a loved one. I promise and I can personally attest to you that it is totally possible to find it. It’s rooted in the deepest parts of the heart and mind as we CHOOSE, it’s always a choice, to be grateful. And yes, we can be grateful and happy and find peace no matter what our circumstances are. How’s that? Because it’s important to realize that it’s not the circumstances in our lives that dictate how we feel, rather it’s our thoughts/beliefs that generate our emotions. And yes, of course we are going to be sad, devastated, heartbroken, crushed and maybe even angry when we lose someone we love.
I love this quote with all of my heart and I think it truly embodies what grief is: “The only way to take sorrow out of death is those to take love out of life.” (A Russell M. Nelson quote) Isn’t this so true? And yes, it’s okay to be sad when we lose someone. We don’t want to stuff our emotions down so we don’t have to feel them. When grieving the loss, one way to honor them is to allow ourselves to feel all of those emotions, whatever they are. It’s a healthy way to process emotions. It’s necessary for our individual emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health to feel our feelings. Sometimes we want to avoid those hard emotions. It can be painful but changing our perspective can really shift things.
You’ll see me quote Dr Phil McGraw here on occasion. He said this and I think it’s worth reflecting on: “You haven’t faced the situation and dealt with it if you’re numbing out with any substance. I’m not someone that believes you put yourself in a chemical straight-jacket so you don’t have to feel pain. I don’t think you dull your senses so you don’t have to deal with the realities of life.”
Can I get a huge AMEN to that?!!! Those emotions aren’t going anywhere. You can stuff them down if you want but that’s not healthy and I’m telling you that at some point you are going to have to address and work through them. So, why not right now?! It’s process, it always is. It also takes time. It’s often helpful to find a therapist or life coach that can help you process through these emotions. And, it’s always important to have a few friends that you can openly share your thoughts and feelings with – get them out there.
A mentor of mine said: “As humans, we typically don’t like the way negative emotions feel, so a lot of our behavior is an attempt to change or avoid them.”
It’s true that no matter the challenges/circumstances of our lives we can find peace and joy when we choose to think grateful thoughts. What does this look like? This looks like reflecting on happy memories you share with that person. It can look like having a thought like this: “I’m grateful my loved one is no longer suffering with an illness.” You get the point I’m trying to make. And sometimes you want to think sad thoughts because you miss them terribly and you wish they were still here with you. But at some point you want to look for things you are grateful for. Thinking about how grateful you are that that person was a part of your life and how they made a positive impact on it. Just sharing what has worked for me. 🙂
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