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The agony of grief is enough to make you want to gouge out your eyeballs with jagged spikes dipped in molten lava because it would surely be less painful. We search for a way to fix grief because we know how grief feels and the pain is unbearable. Our pursuit is relentless. The only problem is, the likelihood of fixing grief is about as high as finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
It ain’t happenin’.
Searching for the Fix
When I was first widowed I bought lots of books. I read lots of articles and consulted lots of websites. I searched and searched for the elusive grief fix. C’mon now. After ALL these centuries of people dying hasn’t anyone discovered the one surefire way to overcome debilitating grief?
Can’t I just rub the concentrated healing power of essential oils on my feet and let them work their magic? If essential oils can eliminate toxins from my body can’t they excrete the grief, too? Let’s go essential oils! Pull that shit out of me!
Hint: Rubbing oil on my feet didn’t work.
Can’t I drink some elixir like Kombucha laced with ginger or turmeric to fix my grief? If probiotics can heal my gut can’t they heal my grief, too?
Hint: Drinking Kombucha didn’t work.
Pills? Pinot Noir? Paleo diet? What’s the friggin’ answer?
Hint: Pinot Noir is sometimes the answer?.
Facing the Facts
In the midst of my healing pursuits, I came across a quote by Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun, in which she says,
“suffering begins to dissolve when we can question the belief or hope that there is anywhere to hide.”
I was hiding. I was.
After reading all of my books, articles, and web searches it became quite clear that my only option for dealing with the debilitating grief was to deal with the debilitating grief.
In other words, accept it.
Well, folks, that’s really not the answer I was looking for. But I kinda, sorta knew it was coming. The truth about fixing grief that you shouldn’t ignore is no “fix” for grief exists. The only way to feel better is to feel the uncomfortable, horrible, twitchy feelings. Ugh. It’s true. When I stopped trying to hide from my grief and truly accepted it, my healing journey began.
Grief became less of an ominous monster and more of a way of life.
Ways to Cope
Now that we’ve determined we must deal with the debilitating grief, what does that mean, exactly? Well, for starters we need to stand face-to-face with grief and pain and accept it in all of its obnoxious forms. Acknowledging the grief goes a long way towards healing. Simply acknowledge you’re hurt or angry or sad or…whatever. My coping mechanisms will be different from yours because we all deal with our grief in different ways.
I might cry all day. One day I get my bike out and enjoy the local park. I drink wine. I mean, it changes daily. But when I acknowledge grief it always lessens. I also have control over how I choose to live. I can be burdened by my grief and never get out of bed or I can enjoy life again by choosing to do things that bring me joy. It’s your job to determine what brings you joy.
Please don’t say “nothing brings me joy.” Something brings you joy. Just figure out what that something is and go do it.
Here are a few ways of dealing with my grief that have worked for me in the past:
#1: Get a Good Dinner on the Table
I’m not a culinary master. However, I can read a recipe. I like to feed my body (and my kids’) good, healthy food. Yes, it’s time-consuming, I’m not gonna lie to ya. But, your brain can’t be burdened by grief when it’s learning how to make Buffalo Chicken Bowls with Zucchini and Carrot Noodles. Try this. It’s delicious!
#2: Join a Support Group
We attended a grief support group for two years after my husband’s death. My kids made new friends who were “like them” and I connected with several adults who experienced the same things I was going through. It helps to talk it out with like-minded individuals. Search “grief support groups near me” on Google and check out your options. Or search www.meetup.com for a Meetup grief group near you.
Doing something for others takes the focus off yourself. Grief can’t inundate your brain when you are helping others. Give grief the afternoon off. Focus on ways to contribute to your community instead of giving grief all of your attention.
Accept lunch or coffee invitations. Or extend the invitation yourself. Do not stay holed up in your house alone. It’s not necessary, or healthy, to be alone all the time. Make it a priority to get out and be with other people. I rarely say no to a lunch invitation.
Buy an adult coloring book, like Calm the F*uck Down and go to town. Coloring is cathartic. It’s amazing how good you can feel with a couple of crayons or colored pencils.
Widow Wrap Up
While I wish I could tell you I found the elusive fix for grief, I can’t. The cat’s out of the bag. There is no fix. My hope is you’ve come to terms with your grief and accepted it instead. I hope you acknowledge your grief and no longer hide from it. Finally, I hope by not hiding, your suffering dissolves at whatever pace is appropriate for you.
Peace out, my friend.