We all go through seasons of weeping and mourning in our lives. It is impossible to go through life without grief. We might be faced with a season of mourning due to losing a loved one, end of a friendship, selling the family home or even a death of a beloved pet – basically anything that creates an emotional suffering when something or someone you love is taken away.
But no matter what the situation is that has plunged us into a season of mourning, in order to heal, we must grief the loss. Grief is a natural response to losing something we love and one of life’s most difficult challenges. We can try to ignore grief and pretend it’s not there, but in the end, it will always catch up on us. Not dealing with it can create a mountain so big, it can become insurmountable. For real healing to happen, it is necessary to face the grief and actively deal with it – because not dealing with the grief can create strong barriers within us that can prevent us from not only moving on, but growing and improving our hearts.
To deal with grief and to effectively mourn a loss, it is useful to understand what grief actually is. According to psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross there are five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Not all stages are experienced by everyone, but according to Kübler-Ross, a person always experiences at least two of the stages. These stages do not necessarily come in a linear manner either, in fact, people experience several stages in a “roller coaster” effect—switching between two or more stages and returning to one or more several times before working through it. The feeling of being on an emotional roller coaster is probably something everyone who has grieved a loss can relate to.
Interestingly (but not surprisingly!) according to Kübler-Ross women are more likely than men to experience all five stages of grief. This is in line with the Lumi co-founders’ experience across the world, where it’s been seen that women, in their resilience and courage, are often quite good at approaching and dealing with grief. As women, we are often more likely to be comfortable with our emotions and are not as afraid of the waves (sometimes tsunamis!) of emotions that overtake us in the midst of a grieving process. We are more likely to allow ourselves the time to grief. This is partly impacted by the fact that for a woman in our Western society, it is more acceptable to show emotions such as sadness, and even anger.
Women are also great at supporting each other through the grieving process. We allow each other room and do not expect our friends and family to ‘just get over it’, which is often a more Western male approach to mourning. In fact, rushing the grieving process can actually hinder the healing and cause problems down the track; including causing damage to important relationships, sinking into an unhealthy lifestyle, and suffering from mental illness.
So what if you are going through a season of mourning, or have a friend who is grieving at the moment? From personal experience, and having watched friends and family go through the grieving process, here are Lumi’s top tips for mourning:
- Remember it is not a sign of weakness to feel deep sadness, anger or other strong emotions. When grieving, we are likely to go through the different stages of mourning, and allowing those emotions run is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you’re weak. There is no need to put on a front for your friends and family either – showing them the true feeling can help them help you.
- Don’t try to push the pain and hurt away. Allow it room to move, even if you have to go ahead with your life. This might mean that you put aside an hour every day when you allow yourself feel all the emotions that are inside of you. This might be a good strategy especially if you are likely to try and internalise your pain and ignore it by keeping busy.
- Don’t rush it. There is no set time frame to when you should be ok. It depends the grief you’re going through and who you are. No one can tell you when you should be ok.
- Just remember that grieving is essential to the healing process. It is not something we get over, it is something we go through. The pain of grief is precisely what helps you accept the situation and move on. And no matter how strong your grief, it won’t last forever. This too shall pass.
If you or a friend is going through grief and it seems to be overwhelming them – make sure you get professional help – www.beyondblue.com.au is a great place to start.