When I was four years old my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. If I take a step back in time I can remember going to work with her at Southern Connecticut State University and spending tons of time with her. I remember when she got sick and my grandfather had to give her morphine shots for the pain. Through my personal development work I learned that my inner child who needed some healing and reassurance from my present self was four year old me. What I didn’t realize a year and a half ago was that that four year old was the little girl who lost her grandmother to cancer. Within the past year my grandfather was diagnosed with Dementia and over the past month I learned that I was grieving the loss of a man who was always independent and now is being taken care of by me and my sister. Although I believed my last connection to my grandmother was my grandfather, during a recent meditation I recognized that I really had never felt nor was able to touch the sadness that was buried deep in my soul for the past thirty-one years. I had so much suppressed sadness that when I let myself feel it, the toxicity of carrying it for so long actually made me vomit. I am not sure if parents realize how insightful and impacted children are. I have had the opportunity to experience what I felt as a four year old now as an adult and begin to hold my memories dear, not suppressing my sadness. One thing I have learned recently is that the length of time we have is not guaranteed. I choose to cherish the moments with friends, family and the universe in the here and now with no regrets. Here are some suggestions for managing grief:
1. Understand that there is no rule book – Feel your feelings as they come. It may feel like an emotional rollercoaster and that’s okay. Holding emotions in doesn’t allow one to heal from the loss one has experienced. Also, there is not a designated length of time to grieve.
2. Write, write, write – Journaling can be cathartic and healing. You can write your favorite memories, feelings and thoughts, and you can write good-bye when you’re ready.
3. Be kind to yourself – Allow yourself the time and space to heal your loss. Remember that loss looks and feels different for everyone. It could be loss of innocence, a child, a childhood, a parent, a loved one, a pet, etc. Be gentle and don’t beat yourself up for “not getting it right”, after all, as mentioned before there is no rulebook and no wrong way to grieve.