Grieving is a Learned Skill
Written by Sarah Kerr, of Soul Passages
Grieving is a skill. It’s a skill that we need to learn, and it’s a skill that we can practice with greater or less proficiency.
Grieving well means the difference between integrating what’s happened to you and finding a way to live with it, or being, to some degree, stuck in it, maybe for the rest of your life.
It can be hard, but it is possible to find your way through big loss. With the right support, we can learn how to do it.
The skills for grieving are meant to be part of our cultural transmission. Just like parenting, or growing food, or resolving conflict; we don’t come in knowing these things. Western culture does a particularly bad job of teaching us how to grieve, though, because it’s so averse to discomfort.
Grief can be uncomfortable, but so can lots of things. Running a marathon is uncomfortable. Quitting smoking can be uncomfortable. Apologizing can be uncomfortable. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do these things, it means we need to find the inner resources and outer support necessary to do an uncomfortable thing that we know will benefit us.
Grief can be a long process. We move through it slowly, but it’s not just time that heals. If we just wait, we can actually stay in the same place. We need action, too.
It’s very slow at the beginning, when the grief is so terrible, when we’re physically debilitated, and overwhelmed. But bit by bit, we can move it, and there are different practices that support that.
The first is community; we can connect with friends and family, with support groups, and with skilled practitioners who can help us grieve if we haven’t been taught how to do it. Grief is easier to hold when we hold it together.
Beauty helps us grieve: making or experiencing art of any sort. We can connect with music, poetry, journaling, or with anything that helps us process and move the grief through us. Grief is a soul injury, and beauty and image are the healing language of the soul.
Moving and caring for our bodies helps us grieve: eating well, exercising, yoga, swimming, massage, and body work, all gently help us through the process.
Our soul loves being in nature, and wild and green places are balm for a griever. So is being with animals, our pets calm and ground us.
Grieving is an action. Grieving is how we respond to loss and sadness, just like eating is how we respond to hunger.
When we’re hungry, we do something. We eat, and then we’re not hungry anymore. When we experience loss and sadness, we need to do something, slowly with great tenderness, and at our own pace. That’s how we find integration, that’s how we become someone who’s big enough to hold the loss.
Thank you to Sarah Kerr of Soul Passages for her generosity in lending Serenity Alliance this article. You can see her full website at https://soulpassages.ca