Breaking Down the Barriers To Grief
Permission. Grieving is a normal response to loss. Give yourself permission to express in safe ways any feelings of loss you have. Learn to recognize any barriers that may be blocking you from free expression.
Personal barriers. Perhaps you come from a family where sadness and grief are not expressed, and people are not allowed to cry. Maybe you have a fear that others will judge you as being weak. You might feel embarrassed to show your emotions. Perhaps you are taking care of other people’s feelings, and you don’t want to overwhelm them. If you are experiencing anger or are crying, you may think that it is not appropriate to express those feelings around other people. Maybe you think your loss is trivial and therefore you have no business expressing grief.
Societal barriers. Other people may make comments that put a damper on you feeling free to express yourself. You might hear comments like, “Don’t cry. Everything is going to be just fine.” Look on the bright side, there is always someone who has it worse.” “You’ve got to be strong for your _______. “You’ve been a tower of strength.”
What to tell yourself. Grief is a normal healthy process. I have the right to feel and express my grief. What other people say reflects their own beliefs about grief, I don’t have to agree. Holding my feelings in makes them grow stronger and last longer. It is better to let them out each day. Releasing my feelings reduces my fear and my emotional pain. Feelings are just feelings, they are neither right nor wrong. Recognizing my grief and expressing it is a strength. I want my loved ones to be honest with their feelings, not put on a Happy Face to cheer me up.
What to do. Find a support group. If your loss is related to the death of someone, then call hospice, they have Bereavement Support Groups. These groups are open to anyone, regardless of whether hospice had been involved. If your grief is related to your health issues, seek out a support group. Cancer Centers, for instance, have support groups. There are many different kinds of support groups, for example, Parkinson support groups. If you are a caregiver, there is a place for you in the support groups. If you need personal support in grieving, go to a social worker or counselor.
Yes, you can cry. Go ahead, let it out. You matter, you grieve.
Judy Brutz, Quaker chaplain and author, writes and leads retreats for survivors. She lives in Idaho with her family. She enjoys being in nature, photography, knitting for peace, and volunteering in the classroom by listening to children read. Judy is caregiver to her husband who has brain cancer.
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