As I recently traveled back from the East Coast from visiting an uncle who is nearing the end of his life, I reflected on how personal and unique the process of grief is for each of us.
Certainly our cultures, traditions and religions give us opportunities to share our expressions of mourning for significant losses through death; we take comfort in the rituals and shared experiences of family and friends. We are given permission to grieve, to cry, to reminisce.
But loss is a natural part of our lives in so many ways, as I am reminded daily through our work and our patients. And often times this grief is not recognized, not labeled as such, and so not given permission to be expressed.
The temporarily homeless man cannot keep his beloved dog with him in his temporary housing.
The young wife and mother of 3 still grieves the unnamed child she lost prematurely.
The gentleman in a sober living program grieves the lost opportunity for parenting he was unable to provide for his now grown children.
The middle-aged woman grieves the marriage she anticipated before entering a relationship fraught with domestic violence.
Young parents of a medically fragile infant grieve the loss of a healthy child they anticipated throughout their pregnancy.
Participants in a pain management group recognize grief at the core of much of their pain.
At Vista Hill SmartCare we encourage others to embrace an integrated approach to wellness, recognizing the complicated yet wonderful way that our bodies, minds and emotions respond and intertwine. Taurean Buhl expresses this beautifully in How Yoga Saved Me as she describes how her yoga practice released the myriad of emotions and grief she held for the loss of her father. If your body is telling you something through symptoms, perhaps grief is at its core.
I encourage those who are grieving to give yourselves permission to express this grief in a way that feels right to you. Perhaps it is privately, perhaps shared more publicly. You may benefit from a counselor or therapist to assist you in creating a ritual for your own unique experience.
You may choose writing as your process – a letter, a song, a journal. You may plant a tree or a garden. You might create a dance or a story. You may make a contribution or a donation or a tribute. And as you move through this grieving process, whatever it is and however you define it, you will be able to more readily embrace life with joy and wellness.