A smell, a memory, a photo, a song.
They can all bring up memories that trigger an emotional response of grief, fear, sadness and so much more.
Grief can come in waves, even years after the fact. Splashing on the surface of our soul, opening us up to memories long past; reminding us of our own vulnerability and that our healing is not yet complete.
The loss of a parent, child, spouse, pet, a baby – born or unborn; can drop us to our knees. Just as we think we’ve made peace with our loss, a new reminder lands on the shore of our heart, breaking us open once again. Reminding us that there is more healing to be done.
When we don’t have the space or the emotional ability to process our grief, we all too often bury it deep inside.
We grieve within the capacity that we are able to in the moment. For some, it may take months and for others, like myself, it may take years.
These triggers arise, as reminders that there is something inside of us that we have not yet made peace with.
A question that often comes my way is: What can I do when I’m emotionally triggered and how do I handle the emotions that arise?
One of the first things you can do is RECOGNIZE YOUR TRIGGER
Ask yourself these questions….
What are my triggers?
What emotion is being activated?
Where do I feel this emotion in my body?
Does it have a color, shape or size?
Close your eyes and intuitively feel where this emotion resides within your body. By giving yourself the space to take a step back and identify this feeling, you’re immediately able to ground and center your energy.
Next, CREATE SOME SPACE TO REFLECT
There are many practices that can support your reflection, one them in journaling.
I love to journal. Journaling has absolutely been a life saver for me. So, if this feels safe for you, I invite you to sit down and begin let your thoughts flow through your pen.
Take a deep breath and ask yourself some simple questions to get started and soon, you’ll find that your words are flowing.
Here are a few simple journal prompts that may be helpful to get you started:
My grief triggers are _____________________ and this is why they still produce these emotions inside of me _________.
My favorite memory of you is ___________________ and this is why __________________.
Even after all this time, I still find it difficult to say your name aloud and this is why _______________.
I’m going to honor you by _____________________.
FIND YOUR COMMUNITY
Grief is a lonely place to be and now more than ever, we need a supportive community to share our sorrow. Whether you surround yourself with family and friends, seek a professional, counselor, healer or join a grief circle; there is strength in community.
In the days of our ancestors, our people would surround us. We would not face our grief alone. Yet today, we live in a culture where the emotions of grief are simply not accepted. We’re encouraged to get back to work without having had time to grieve. We hide our emotions away and close off our heart, for fear of what others might say.
HONORING OUR GRIEF THROUGH RITUAL
Francis Weller states in his book, “The Wild Edge of Sorrow” that “Ritual provides the elements necessary to help transform whatever it is we are carrying in our psyches.”
I’ve found this to be true over and over again. Ritual is an essential part of our life and whether you’re aware of it or not, you probably have several that support your daily existence. From rising in the morning and making your bed, showering and brushing your teeth. These are simple tasks that you perform without even thinking of it and yet, without it, you may not function to the best of your ability throughout your day.
Healing rituals for grief are equally important for your mental, emotional and spiritual well-being; they can be as simple or as complex as you desire. Grief rituals can be deeply supportive when you get hit by those triggers that seemingly “come out of nowhere.”
They exist to help navigate the rites of passage that we move through at different phases of our life, one of them being the loss of a loved one. They create a container that allow you to channel your grief in a safe and sacred way.
Its important to set the intention that this ritual is being created to honor you and to release any grief that may still be stored within your body.
Rituals can be creative too. Whether you are an artist or not, get out some paints, markers or even your kids’ crayons and let your emotions flow through you.
Your ritual may be as simple as lighting a candle in honor of your loved one. It may be taking a deep breath and releasing it with love. It may be going for a run, hike, walk or even doing yoga and letting those emotions be expressed through the expansiveness of your bodies’ movement. You may choose to make a favorite meal, or celebrate your loved ones birthday.
Whatever it might be, it comes from your heart and honors you as you continue on your healing journey.
THE SACREDNESS OF GRIEF
It literally took me years to know this but there is a sacredness to grief.
Grief grants us the gift of compassion, for ourselves and others. It offers us the gift of inner strength that we may never have known without this experience. We learn of forgiveness, grace and joy. And, most importantly, we learn that even from the ashes, we are able to RISE.