When Grieving On Purpose Is a Good Thing
Grief is a heavy word but every change requires it. We use it only when we talk about death, but that’s not the right way to look at it. We should give ourselves time to grieve changes – of life stages, of places we live, of age, of friendships, relationships, jobs and all the rest.
This is a huge missing piece in good adult change management. Right now, I am in a hotel in between living in Prague and New Jersey. The apartment I just emptied is next door to the hotel (I can literally see it). I am excited for the change ahead, but I did need to make space for the other emotions that accompany this (and every) shift.
Because of the focus on ‘being positive’ (if you don’t know by now, you’ll find out soon that the positive thinking world makes me crazy) we often don’t realize that we are allowed to feel good and bad at the same time. That our emotional “soup” as I like to call it is a huge mix of things that are impossible to separate and sometimes hard to taste the individual flavors.
I consider myself an Emotional Soup Connoisseur of sorts. When you tell me your story, I’m listening deeply for notes of pain, a pinch of anger, a touch of sorrow, a measure of joy, and all the places you never grieved when you should have. It’s NEVER one flavor at a time, even if memes would have you believe that if you have enough love, all negative emotions disappear. I haven’t seen that work yet, but once I do, I’ll be the first to let you know. I doubt you’d even like it if it did. No one likes warm tomato juice as soup. It needs onions, salt, garlic, pepper, and a damn good stock to even taste like anything. It’s the same with your life. It’s not enjoyable on one flavor alone.
As we pass through different life changes and phases, it is inevitable that we will feel confused by our abilities to feel sad and happy at the same time, to be furious with someone and still be aware of the love you share. What I ask of you is this: ALLOW YOURSELF ALL OF IT.
The love, the anger, the fear, the relief, even when they seem ‘inappropriate’ to the situation at hand. The more honest you are about your emotions, the more you give other people permission to do the same. How many times have you finally let out something that was weighing on you only to have other people chime in that they’ve lived through similar experiences, that you really aren’t alone?
One of the reasons so much emotional crap gets stuck in our bodies is that we ignore and reject the emotions that we deem incorrect. Grief is high up there. If you are going through a change, even one that is positive, be sure to take the time to grieve the old, to release it with love so that you can move on with clarity.
My grieving for this big move isn’t over, but here’s what I’ve done so far:
*Journalled to send gratitude all the people that taught me major life lessons that I wouldn’t have met had I not come to Europe (this is currently about 7 pages long and growing)
*Looked through pictures of travels that Europe gave me a chance to explore
*Reflected on the beginning of my relationship with my husband and recognized the power of our meeting to change both of our lives in such big ways
*When I cleaned out the apartment, I cleansed the rooms with a mix of sage and OM. I thanked it for being our home and asked it to be a great home for my friend who is moving in.
*I wandered around Prague and let myself soak in my favorite buildings and sights.
When I look at this list, it seems to me that to grieve in a positive way, I needed to allow myself to love fully. Love Poland even though it was hard. Love my lessons from people even if we didn’t always get along. Full grief requires recognizing the depth of your love, to send gratitude, to absorb the wonder that is your life because of the changes you’ve managed.
If you’ve been through a major change or have one coming up, I highly recommend planned grieving. Say thank you, say I love you, make a place in your heart for all the good bits, and then walk one step at a time toward your new life.
Have you ever intentionally grieved a life change?