To those who are grieving

On February 24, 2015, I got the call from my sister.  In spite of the medical team’s best efforts, my nephew had passed away from traumatic injuries sustained during a snowboarding accident. Growing up, he had been like a brother to me. The grief brought on as a result of his death was immense.

Two weeks after my nephew’s funeral, I attended the funeral of a beloved man who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had been an employer and mentor to my husband for many years. Both deaths were shocking and deeply saddening to me.

These major losses were punctuated by other losses including a close friend moving away and my husband having to leave the state for a work-related project. I would not see him again for two months.

Life has many seasons and, for me, this was a season of loss.

Life went on. I continued to go to work and participate in my nurse practitioner classes. To the casual observer, life was back to normal. As “casual observers” we want the grieving person to be “ok” as soon as possible. Watching someone grieve any loss (perfect health, idealized life, or the death of a loved one) can be disturbing to the observer. It is our natural tendency to comfort them and help them stop grieving; even if they still need to grieve.

I gave myself the gift of grieving

For me, this season of loss felt like my soul, and physical body were both being wrung out like a wet, dirty, dish rag. So I gave myself the gift of grieving. I allowed myself to experience denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance in any order these visitors presented themselves.  I also moved forward by following the suggestions I have listed below.

If you are experiencing grief, I encourage you to consider doing the following things.

  1. Connect with others – It is important to surround yourself with friends and family members, but it can also be helpful to participate in grief counseling sessions or a grief support group. Griefshare.org provides several resources, including a daily email for 365 days. Churches and hospice centers often offer grief support groups. Contact them sooner rather than later.
  2. Express your grief – Crying is one way to express your grief. Other ways include journaling, creating music or visual art, walking, and even dancing. While writing allows you to release pain and sorrow locked in your thoughts, movement (such as walking) allows you to release sorrow stuck in your body.
  3. Care for your body – Make time for rest and sleep. Select whole foods that nourish your body. Soak in a warm bath or get a massage.

If you are experiencing grief right now, I offer you this quote from Cheryl Strayed. I believe she wrote this in response to her own grief surrounding the death of her mother.

“You let time pass. That’s the cure. You survive the days. You float like a rabid ghost through the weeks. You cry and wallow and lament and scratch your way back up through the months. And then one day you find yourself alone on a bench in the sun, and you close your eyes and lean your head back, and you realize you’re okay.” – Cheryl Strayed

Sending love to all those who are grieving now. May your hearts be comforted.

Sammie Stephens
Nurse Practitioner and Health Coach
sammiestephens.com