Hello my lovelies!
Heads-up/trigger warning: This post is about death and grief.
Which is a super-important topic because more often that not, we don’t learn about grief except via direct, confronting, uncomfortable and inconvenient experience.
And how darn ANNOYING is that?!
Grief comes in many forms
Most often it’s related to the passing of a loved one, but can also include the end of long-term relationships, friendships and other major changes.
None are more/less important, however Death seems to be Head Honcho of Grief…
Now, all of my grandparents are deceased, but I wasn’t that close to them. I was sad at their passing, but actually they all went at pretty decent ages of over 80+. My maternal grandmother was 97 when she went!
But things were very different when my Dad passed in July this year.
It was my first intimate experience with that searing, life-shaking grief you feel when someone important in your life dies.
I felt Dad’s passing on every level of my Being
In every cell. Every part of my sensory experience of the world.
Of course, it was exacerbated by a few key issues.
Dad didn’t take care of himself. He let his symptoms go on for years unchecked. He was also young, relatively speaking. Just shy of his 71st birthday. And he’d had 12 months of illness, nearly dying multiple times.
Then, in the space of less than a week, he’d taken a turn and he was gone. Just like that.
It’s times like these that I’m especially grateful for Kinesiology, and for the many healers I know (peers, colleagues and teachers).
Because I’ve had a LOT of healing work around all of this.
In the year where he was unwell. When he was in the ICU.
And then once we knew he was definitely going, I was fortunate enough to have wonderful friends offer real-time distance healing for Dad and I. And my family.
Even so, it was tough going.
Life plays this game of mirroring stuff back to us
Interestingly, I’ve helped quite a few clients through their own process of grief. Some before Dad passed, some since.
So I’m constantly reminded of the need for my own healing work. As if I could forget!
But then, we can be very good at “getting on with” our lives, and ignoring or suppressing our emotional wounds.
After all, the rest of the world doesn’t stop because someone dies, does it?
Of course, I’ve been through many different phases in the last few months. The first of which was a sense of RELIEF. That Dad isn’t suffering any more. That we don’t have to watch him suffer. That I’m not spending every spare minute thinking about the last time I visited and when I can visit him again.
Of course, that sort of relief can be quickly followed by a feelings of guilt at feeling relieved! No one wants a loved one to be gone. But at the same time, the stress of a long term illness wears on everyone in the family.
As such, it can be a very confusing experience. Here’s the thing, though, about grief…
It isn’t like having a broken arm – grief is trauma
It’s a combination of shock, deep sadness and a total and very sudden shift in the state of reality as we knew it.
Which can be extremely traumatic.
You can’t just wait out your grief. It’s not like having a broken bone that you can put a cast on it and then BOOM!… 6-8 weeks later, it’ll be healed.
Grief simply doesn’t work that way
In fact, as with other forms of trauma, if you don’t tend to grief, it doesn’t go away. And actually it might even get worse. More compounded.
At the very least it’ll just hang around and temporarily overwhelm you from time to time.
And it’s kind of interesting because death is as much a part of life as anything else, but it’s shunned. Managed by the “professionals”.
Grief counselling isn’t common
You’re meant to just “get through” it, right? Move on after a given period of time.
Every now and then, someone will tell you how “it gets better, but it’s never over”.
And each time I hear this I think… HANG ON.
This sounds a lot like what people say about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – something I’ve lived through personally, and 100% recovered from.
People will tell you that you’ll never recover from PTSD, too. And sure, it can certainly feel that way, when you’re in the middle of it.
But it’s simply not true.
It’s okay to feel good again
This is an important part of healing from any form of trauma: Acknowledging you have every right to get to a place where you feel emotionally balanced. Happy, even.
It’s okay to be free of the seemingly bottomless well of sadness that arises when grief comes to town.
You don’t have to sit in that for the rest of your life. It’s okay to let go, when you’re ready.
To recover from grief, it’s helpful to know how to work with it.
So, what have I been doing to work through/heal my own grief?
I’ve been thinking about Dad a lot this week. And I found myself looking at the photo I took of him a day or so before he passed.
It’s a super-private photo that I treasure because he looked so peaceful. He was asleep, his face looks smooth and calm.
There are always regular healing sessions for me, which includes Kinesiology, yoga, moving, breathing, walking, writing and more.
In my self-reflection around how I’m doing, I realised I’ve begun to see grief like a garden that needs tending.
5 Ways Grief is Like a Garden
- A garden is comprised of many plants
Each of them have roots in the earth, and produce different sorts of flowers. However, a garden is the collection of those plants and has it’s own energy.
As for grief? It isn’t a single feeling. It’s a collective energy of experiences with its roots in many aspects and different times of our life. All of our memories. Everything we expected to be true in the present and the future. All of that has changed.
- Gardens are living organisms
Every aspect of a garden works together in some way. Some plants provide shelter for others. The nutrients produced by some plants assist others to flourish.
And grief… well, it’s a protective mechanism. Nothing is wrong. Your grief exists to help you bridge the gap between How Things Were, and How They Are Now. Grief is a living organism with an energy and intelligence of its own. It knows how to support you, if only you’ll work with it and not against it.
- A garden has a natural lifecycle
It exists for the time it exists. All things live, flourish, mature and pass. It’s part of the rhythm of this world.
Same with grief. It doesn’t HAVE to be with you for the rest of your life, unless you want it to. Holding on to grief is a way we can avoid moving forwards, if that makes sense? Instead, you can choose to see grief as a support tool.
Tune in to where you’re at in that process, and be supported by that knowledge: Grief has a natural life cycle.
- A garden has needs: soil, water, nutrients, sunshine, and space
Everything has a right to life, including our grief. Both gardens and grief require patience and love.
For you to move through the energy of grief in a healthy way, it’s a good idea to tend to its needs, yeah? You need the right nutrients, specific to you. You need love, patience, kindness, sunshine, water and nourishment.
Allow yourself space. Time to cry. Super-sad movies to watch (to assist in letting all the FEELS out).
Write. Sing. Spend time in nature (my favourite cure-all).
Be super kind to yourself.
Creative expression is useful! One of the first things I did after Dad passed was to go to an ecstatic dance session. In the low-lighting, I checked in with my body and moved. I felt so darn stiff. Still crouched over in “crash position”. I cried. And bellowed (when everyone else was making lots of noise!). And came back to myself somewhat.
Interestingly, I haven’t done much yoga since Dad passed. For me, there’s something so VERY intimate in my yoga practice and it’s really confronting. So, I’ve yoga-ed a little at home, and done a little public yoga. But only when I can be at the back of a large class and cry, if that’s what I need to do. 🙂
Part of my self-care is obviously lots of energy and healing work. Kinesiology for me, is a wonderful way to release the stress, sorrow, sadness and shock of the final year of Dad’s life.
- Gardens are eventually renewed
At some point, we till the soil. Plants in the garden come to their natural end, and need to be replaced. Then the landscape changes. We plant afresh, maybe even with different plant species. Time and space = change.
Eventually, when you’re ready, you can say goodbye to your grief. Which is NOT the same as forgetting the person who left!
But it IS saying… I don’t have to hold myself in this pattern of shock and sadness any longer. I’m okay. And it’s safe to experience joy, pleasure, excitement and appreciation for all there is in our life.
We can do all of that without flagellating ourselves for still being here while our loved ones are gone.
They don’t want us to feel crappy for the rest of our lives, anyway.
Where to from here?
Simply make lots of allowances for yourself. Seek out support from family, friends, healers, counselors. Whatever you need.
Grief isn’t a linear process. There can be soooo many layers, and that’s okay.
I’m super-grateful that I was given the simple advice: “There are no rules for getting through this” (thanks Leanne!).
There’s no right or wrong way to do it! Many people (myself included) worry about this.
But you don’t have to know how.
Respond to your grief as you would to a child in pain and suffering
Soothe and support it. Serve up its favorite foods. Make sure it gets lots of rest and sleep. Give it hugs and love.
And treat it with the same respect you’d give to any other living organism – a person, an animal or a garden.
In this way, you’ll find your rhythm with grief and when you’re ready let it go (no set timeframes!), it will happen without force or effort.
Ambha Amanda Roberts is a Kinesiologist, Intuitive Healer, educator and facilitator based on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. She offers Kinesiology sessions both in-person and via Skype/Zoom all over the world.
Ambha Amanda is the co-creator of Adventures of Staria, which includes a series of Staria cards, and an upcoming book for children (including inner children).