When we are no longer able to change a situation,
we are challenged to change ourselves.
Acknowledging and Forgiving
We have reached that part in our journey; for it is possibly time for you, too, to accept the person has died. If we can’t yet accept it, we can at least acknowledge that it has happened and the person is not coming back. With acknowledgement we, too, must note we are being changed by grief. When we look back, which we will do in the next chapter, you will see just how much change and growth you have experienced. The old life you had, with its certain routines with your loved one, has now gone. That path has reached its end. With acknowledgement, you can now choose your new path and start to rebuild your life.
Acceptance versus Resistance
By not accepting our grief, we are, in fact, holding on to something that we cannot change. We become resistant. We hold on tighter and stop the natural flow of the grieving process. Instead of resisting it, we need to ask ourselves why we are avoiding it. Why and what purpose is this serving? It is in the asking where the answers can surface. The answer could be fear and guilt or fear of the future and what your life will be without the person, or guilt that you did not love the person enough because you associate moving on through grief with a lack of genuine love for the deceased.
Letting go off Resistance
It is not the person you are letting go of; it is all the negative thinking that goes with holding on to the grief. Imagine if you will that it is you who has died. Would you not want the person to move on and find happiness and joy for their life once again? Of course, you would; so why should you feel guilty about trying to move past the sadness?
It is completely the opposite; by letting go, you are actually showing greater love. You have trust and faith that your loved one will live on in your memories and they will not be forgotten. Letting go is letting go of the resistance. This is what keeps us stuck and prevents us from growing. Evolution has made us this way. We need to adapt to our ever-changing environment or we will become extinct and die, too.
Breathing through your Pain
We need to learn to breathe through our pain and not resist it. An old adage says, “what we resist persists.”How true it is. Birthing mothers receive instruction on how to breathe deeply and slowly and how to pant through the pain. When the contractions are at their strongest, the mother can use her breathing to go with each one and be in tune with the natural flow and rhythms of birth. To go against the flow with each contraction would only make them more painful. Just like a woman giving birth, if we resist the pain, it will persist and intensify. So, breathe through your resistance to find out what truly is holding you back.
Acts of Surrender can Free you
Acceptance and letting go of the resistance are actually acts of surrender. You are no longer fighting the flow of wanting to swim upstream. You can become peaceful in that moment. The fight to hold on has ceased. The act of surrender can free up all that energy that was being used to hold on. You will feel lighter and freer in doing so. Will you try it?
Acts of Forgiveness Heals
Sometimes you can accept things, but, at times, there is still something holding you back. It is called forgiveness. During our lives, the person who died may have said or done something that hurt us and now that they have left, there is no opportunity for them to apologize or for us to forgive them. Maybe they did not apologize because they never realized they hurt us. I know for many of you, perhaps forgiving them will not be acceptable to you, but for you to have closure, know forgiveness is part of the healing process. It is much harder to forgive someone for a transgression than to ask for an apology. I can ask because I know what it feels like to finally forgive someone. It also feels amazing to apologize for something that I may have done or said to them. It is like wiping the slate clean. It removes any traces of old, stuck pain which can then free you.
Acts of Choice – sets you on a New Path
Forgiveness is another way in which we can make peace with the past. We have all said or done things that we wish we had not. The good news is that it is never too late to forgive or apologize. The best part is that you never have to say it in person. By choosing to forgive another is another way of letting go of what you think should or should not have happened. It does not mean that you condone their behaviour or actions. It means that you are no longer going to remain a victim, a victim to your thoughts or beliefs. Forgiveness is a decision to let go of anger, resentment, and thoughts of revenge. Forgiveness can assist you in not holding on. For holding on to grudges can lead to strokes, kidney disease, heart failure and even death.
I got to see this firsthand. My dad held onto grudges. He had kidney problems and did die of heart failure and cancer. For that reason alone, I am choosing to forgive on a daily basis!
Practicing Forgiveness in 10 Words
I am using the Hawaiian Forgiveness Prayer Ho’oponopono. For more information on this simple prayer’s power, please see Joe Vitale’s book that he co-authored with Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len called Zero Limits.
There are four phases to it:
Please forgive me
I love you
You can say them in any order, but Vitale believes in saying them silently to the Divine (of your understanding) is the best way.
Do you want to be right or Happy?
Perhaps if Dad had realized the powerful hold his grudges had on him and the damage they were doing to his body, he may have opted to forgive everyone. Again, do you want to be right or be happy?
Remember these words
“Father forgive them, for they know what they do” – Happy Easter
Yoga in its simplicity can unlock those unwanted, shoved down emotions you no longer want to deal with. It lovingly brings them to light so you can do just that. Deal with them!
I realized I’d been sitting in a simmering soup of anger ever since my yin yoga class last week. I don’t normally experience any emotional releases during classes but last week doing one particular pose, I did experience tremendous anger welling up, while I was sitting in the position. I had to breathe deeply to relieve the pent up emotions whirling up inside me. I just wanted to jump up and start running around, perhaps shouting to relieve it. I didn’t think that would be too welcome considering where I was, instead I worked on staying put and breathing through it. Thankfully once we came out of the position and onto the next one, no more anger. What I didn’t recognize was that my anger had gone off the boil but wasn’t actively released. It merely simmered all weekend with little puffs being released at whatever angered me which seemed to be many things!
So when our Let’s Talk about Grief group began with a couple of posts about anger, somehow, this triggered mine off again. I decided I needed to work to release it or better still find out the source. One of the ways I do this is by using the Conscious Complaining exercise I shared with you. After about 4 rounds of filling up my scroll and burning it, I began to feel complete as my anger dissipated. I began to journal on the experience and what came up truly amazed me. It soon became very clear that my needs had been discounted for many years as I seemed to put everyone else’s in front of mine.
This is a common error many women make, as daughters, wives, mothers, employees. Over time we no longer know what constitutes as “I need”. Too often I don’t know what I truly need or want. Anger and frustration build when you discount your own needs often resulting in resentment. The emotion of anger is a fiery one and our anger is there to alert us when a boundary has been breached, be it an inner or outer one. In this case for me it was me breaching my own inner boundaries by negating my needs.
By the time I had finished journaling, I went on to create my own Charter of Needs.
I need to be respected, loved, treated with kindness, and cherished. I need for my needs to be treated seriously. I need to know what I need and share it lovingly.
This is just a few of what I wrote to give you as examples. We cannot expect others to know what we need unless we can give voice to what our own needs are.
I really enjoy doing conscious complaining because it can so often uncover things we have forgotten or are afraid to voice such as guilt over thinking of voicing something we did or didn’t do. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable at these times is powerful and you will be surprised at what is stirred up.
Of course, if conscious complaining sounds silly, then perhaps you could do some of the following to release what it is you feel angry about: beating a pillow or your bed with your fists, having a good workout or cleaning your home, washing floors anything that will get you moving so the anger can be released. Anger is an amazing emotion if you understand it. Anger is motivating and gets you moving. I will often bring a client into anger as we work together; its energy is much higher than grief. So if you are in anger – great take action and get moving.
“Without Death there would be no Butterflies – Let your Grief Transform You”
I’m on a mission to bring grief out of the closet so you and others can understand it is nothing to fear, and once understood, to accept it for it is a natural part of life and being human. Grief comes in many shapes and sizes, and is woven into the fabric of society’s existence. Still we avoid it, and do what we can to control our lives in order not to feel its pain too deeply. Typically, we associate Our Grief in response to a death. However, grief can also occur when we have lost something of importance. Because we are programmed for survival, pain and suffering were meant to be avoided at all cost. As a result, we have become a society that is adverse to a very natural part of life and that is death.
You and I recognize that, yes, we will die but that is in the future. “Right now I need to live,” I hear you say…you want to search out only things that will bring pleasure, happiness or joy. Experiencing anything less makes life not worth living. I am here to suggest that it is in knowing and understanding how to grieve that loosens the fear that holds you back from truly living.
Small Practice Steps
This is why life has given us smaller losses to practice on for they will teach us how to deal with the largest loss of all – a death. Very often it is not the death itself that affects the immensity of grief we feel, it can often be we are feeling and being asked to heal all those other “little losses” we ignored and buried as we went through life.
How many of you recite affirmations as I do negating anything bad or negative you may be feeling or thinking? Sometimes we need to feel our emotions and not affirm them away. If there were no death, there would be no butterflies. In a similar way, if there were no sadness or grief how would we know and appreciate happiness and joy?
3 Day Grief Ritual
I recently read a book called The Healing Wisdom of Africa by author Dr. Patrice Somé. He writes that when someone in his home village is not in their joy, then grief has crept in to visit. If one person is affected then the whole village is affected. Its people drop whatever they are doing and participate in a three- day ritual to release the grief that has settled. Each participant is accompanied and no one goes into their grief alone. After three days, everyone returns to the village to carry on with their lives, feeling happy that their joy has returned. Who knew that grieving could take three whole days? It makes you wonder how we are expected to deal with and heal our grief when our funeral rituals last one to two hours? Many are expected then to return to their work and lives.
Making Peace with Grief
The question isn’t, how do we grieve, it is how can we not? Perhaps you have grown up with parents who were uncomfortable with their emotions and who did not allow your emotions to flow. Our understanding of death and not being fearful of it lies with accepting our emotions and recognizing their connection to our thoughts. Our emotions flow through us one by one. Often we don’t notice them unless we think of something that literally interrupts us and makes us feel anger or sadness. We never stop long enough to ask why we are feeling a certain way. Our emotions recede in the background until something like a death occurs – the grand interruption! Then we are stopped in our tracks and have no choice but to face them. In our grief, each emotion will come to visit, sometimes alone or all together leaving us breathless, off balance and in pain. Understandably, we may be frantic and unsure of how to cope with the intensity.
GPS -Map-Plan – Your tools for the Grief Journey
Rather than waiting until a death occurs, wouldn’t it be kinder for us to understand what to expect? To gain an appreciation of grief’s purpose? I have found when I understand something, the fear surrounding it lessens.How many of you can say you know what to expect when death shows up? What will it feel like? Will I cope with grief’s emotions? Because we are afraid, we cannot face up to what is in front of all of us. This is why I suggest “let’s talk about it”. In this way you lessen fear’s grip on death. You can allow yourself to go deeper into the understanding of life ending and experience the growth that can occur from this personal exploration.
No one would think of visiting a place they’d never been without first researching it and making travel plans. They would take along their GPS or trusty map. Death is no different; it is a journey we all must take and it is in the surrendering that we can ultimately reduce the painful feelings that surround grief. However, so few have a road map or GPS of grief’s terrain.
As a grief guide/coach and author, I offer you “Grief’s Abyss, Finding your Pathway to Peace”, my road map for grief experienced through a death. Here I guide you through the twists and turns as you journey through grief and transition from heartache to happiness. The book is now available at Singing Pebble bookstore (Ottawa) or on Amazon.ca/com. For more information go to http://www.annedebutte.com/.