What No One Tells You About Grief, Part Two

When I wrote my last post, I realized that I neglected to mention a few of the positive aspects of grief.

You may be asking, “Is there anything positive about grief? About the grieving process?”

I believe so.

Grief can empower you. 

When faced with a difficult situation, humans have an instinctual reaction that is known as “fight or flight.”

Now, there is absolutely no shame in “flight.” There is no shame in taking time to help yourself physically, mentally or emotionally. It doesn’t make you weak to address your emotions. There is no shame in taking time to grieve and to mourn your loss.

What you may not realize is that your grief has the ability to empower you. While grief can drag you down, it can also raise you up. It can remind you of your morals and values. It can show you who and what are important in your life.  Grief can help you to “fight.” Grief can show you the path to heal and recover.

And I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it will be hard. It will not be painless. It will not be easy. You may fail to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I promise you, it is there. And if you’re having trouble seeing it, have other people light your way.

Grief can spark passion.

This post (and every post I write) is a product of my passion. This particular post is also a product of my sadness, my anger, my myriad of emotions. By expressing myself here, I am allowing myself to grieve. I am allowing myself to understand who I am, and what I want to fight for in this world. These words are allowing me (and hopefully you too) to empathize and connect with others. We may all live different lives, we may have different values, but we all experience grief at some point in our lives.

But passion is something that we can also all experience. How we harness and express our passion is unique to each one of us. Our passions can allow us to get to know ourselves better, and also connect to others who might share our passions.

Grief can allow you to experience things that you typically do not. Grief can expand your ideas, your creativity, your mind’s view. Grief can help you to give back – to yourself and to the world.

Grief can free you. 

It can free you from the banality of everyday life. It can free you from some responsibilities and obligations. It can also show you what you need to get accomplished. It can be the kick in the ass you require to get going. It can spark revolutionary ideas. It can produce change. It can help connect you to your community.

The only thing I ask you to really consider is this. Do not let grief consume you. Do not let be the only thing in your life. Do not let it prohibit you from moving on and fighting for what you believe in.

Grief is unpredictable, unstable in its nature. Grief provokes powerful reactions and emotional fluctuations. However, your grief should not immobilize you. If you choose to wallow in your grief, you may never truly see the bigger picture. If you choose to shy away from what’s uncomfortable, you may not see what exactly it is you have in your life to value.

Grief can empower you, it can spark passion, and it can free you, but only if you let it.

I urge you to let it.

What No One Tells You About Grief

Recently, I received the unfortunate news that my grandpa had passed away. In between crying and dealing with this huge loss, I realized a few things about grief. When a loved one dies, it’s awful. It’s terrible. A confusing mix of emotions that abate at a moments’ notice.

Here are some of those things:

1) Everyone reacts to bad news differently. You may cry or you may laugh hysterically. You may sob in front of people or in solitude. Whatever your emotional reaction, it does not mean that you don’t care.

2) If you have a loved one who doesn’t cry often, or if you yourself don’t cry often, those crying fits may be alarming or overwhelming. For me, one of the most difficult parts of this was seeing my father cry. It’s okay to take a second to breathe and let the emotions out. If you’re a person (like me) who can bottle things up, that’s also okay. Express it at your own pace.

3) You will have people ask you how that person died: were they in pain, was it sudden and so on. They will also ask “how are you holding up?” If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably say something along the lines of “I’m fine” or “I’m doing okay.” Whether it’s the truth, or you’re lying through your grief-stricken teeth, these types of answers will usually get people to leave you alone (if that’s what you want). Talk as much or a little as you want. If people judge you, pay them no mind. Your grief is yours and yours alone.

4) Along with people asking you questions, you will probably receive a fair amount of hugs and kisses. If you’re the type of person who is not comfortable with physical contact, let people know. In the same regard, if you crave hugs and kisses, tell people. In this heightened emotional state, being around people may be therapeutic; or you may revert back into your shell. If you’re an introvert like me, you may resort to hiding out upstairs on your phone, or reading a book until you feel comfortable enough to interact again.

5) If you’re craving distraction from the news/grief, you may find yourself wandering in and out of random stores or scanning aisles in the supermarket. Personally, I cleaned every room in my house and reorganized my bookshelves in alphabetical order by authors’ last name. To each their own. Find your comfort in ordinary things.

6) If you’re someone who eats when you are stressed (*raises hand*), you may feel hungry and completely full at the same time. I also recommend not eating a ton of junk food before a long plane ride. Otherwise, you may spend five hours of the flight wishing you hadn’t eaten that last lemon square. Even though it was delicious at the time, turbulence over the Rocky Mountains can change that feeling quickly.

7) You may go through the “5 Stages Of Grief” in a matter of minutes. For me, this included weeping at the sight of a beautiful tree, threatening to run fellow shoppers over with a grocery cart and quietly sitting in my room in silence. It led me to accept that death is a part of life while sitting in a diner eating breakfast. Take as much time as you need to process your emotions and your grief.

The main point of all of these observations is this: Your grief is valid and however/whenever you express that grief is completely up to you. Take some time to take care of yourself and the ones you love. Death may not be something you just get over within a day, it will take time.

 

 

Writing In The Prison, Week 2: Empathy versus Sympathy

Yesterday was the second week of my independent study, Writing In The Prison.

And this week, something that I noticed while teaching was the emotions that were expressed, and how they were reacted to.

Several of the stories this week were deeply personal, and due to their personal nature, it also brought strong emotional reactions as well. Which is completely normal in any situation, but in this particular situation, I wasn’t completely sure how I should react.

This is where empathy versus sympathy comes into play.

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another
Sympathy : feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.
Can we as humans be both empathetic and sympathetic? Or can we only experience one over the other?
In the case of the inmates, it felt as if this class serves as a unique bonding experience for them, as it is allowing them to share their thoughts and feelings with each other. But while the teachers share as well, it feels like there is still a disconnect between us. Because while we are part of the class, we still are part of the “Them”.  Even though we do not hold the same authoritative positions as the guards, we’re still volunteers in the facility. We have the freedom to leave at any time, and we technically do not have to return. We choose to come each week, for different reasons. We do not fit into a proper category because of our freedomswe are not inmates, and we are not workers.
But I know it doesn’t mean that we don’t care. In fact, I would argue in some ways, we are more compassionate, as we only get an hour to learn more about these people, and to learn more about the facility as well. And in turn, the women in the class, and the workers at the facility only get about an hour to learn more about us. Which means the limited time is allowing us to move faster, beyond the bonds of small talk, to really get to what matters.
And I think that is what makes this opportunity so special.
Until next time.

Chapter 109: Okay

Happy Saturday!

After yesterdays’ rant, I felt much better than I did before. Today was a new start, and it’s come to  be a pretty great end of the day as well. It’s a nice feeling to know that I’m surrounded by people who care about me, as I do them.

So, I think everything is going to turn out alright, which is awesome!

xxoo

Chapter 108: Other People Have Emotions Too

Happy Friday!

Sometimes it feels like what I have to say is never good enough, that I’m wrong and always will be. It’s frustrating, because while I know and understand that people have thoughts, emotions, beliefs and pasts that they don’t wish to share or are haunted by them…it’s not alright to attack another person who is only trying to help them. Instead of being able to sit down and have a honest conversation about it, it only builds a wall between, straining the relationship until eventually if it’s not resolved, will snap and crumble.

But like I said in my last post, at least I’ll always have music to help me get through anything.

Hope you all have an amazing weekend! 

xxooImage