By: Michele Mariscal, PhD
According to the Grief Recovery Institute, grief is “the conflicting feelings that come at the end of, or change in, a familiar pattern of behavior,” and it is also “the loss of hopes, dreams, or expectations.”
Some of these current losses of hopes, dreams and expectations may include cancellations and closures. For many different reasons you may find that there are a myriad of emotions in your experience. Perhaps you are one who still has your job, but you have had to let people go, or your friends have been let go. This may bring feelings of relief, guilt, worry, motivation, being heart-broken, and gratefulness. There are also a range of emotions you may be feeling if you are:
- Working from home while taking care of your children, and you feel like you are unable to do either of them well. What is the range of emotions you feel? Perhaps grateful, overwhelmed, concerned, guilty, relieved, or ill-equipped.
- You are home together with your partner, and while it may feel joyful, you may have a mix of emotions – distracted, unproductive, joyful, uncertain, or annoyed.
It’s okay to grieve the loss and uncertainty you are experiencing, no matter how big or small. Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss of any kind. Minimizing or comparing your experience diminishes your ability to be honest and truthful about your own feelings. By acknowledging them, it is possible to adapt more quickly to the moment at hand.
That being said, there are healthy ways to grieve and find mindset shifts that will help you cope and move forward day-by-day, in this experience. My fellow Grief Recovery Specialist, Laura Jack, shared these tips:
- Feel your feelings. If you feel sad, grateful, angry, scared, or any other feeling, find a safe place or space to cry or share. (A safe place or space is a place where you can let your emotions and thoughts out, or a person who can hear you without judgement or trying to “fix” you).
- Take care and have compassion for yourself first. Taking care of yourself is not selfish, it is actually imperative to be able to take care of others.
- Give yourself and others the benefit of the doubt. We are all experiencing a tremendous amount of grief, and more than anything, we need to remember to be compassionate, as everyone is going through something (even you).
- Contribute however you can. If you have money, skills, love, music, prayer, food — whatever your talent or the place you feel abundant is where you can give.
- Recognize that receiving is a gift that someone else gets to give. Thus, if you are someone who needs help, your contribution can be gratitude when others give to you.
- Vent with gratitude. Once you have properly acknowledged your grief, allow yourself to celebrate and feel gratitude as well.
One of the mindset shifts I had, came during the odd experience of yielding to others who were walking along the walking path in my neighborhood. My immediate reaction was, “This is SO odd and uncomfortable to have to think about distancing myself!” Then, what came forward, was a recognition that while we are physically distancing, what we are growing is our ability for spiritual connection. Using the tools of self-compassion and then feeling compassion for all others is a way of connecting that builds this muscle in you.
While I was writing the book Growing Through Grief, I had been diagnosed with a mild case of PTSD and had to tend to the needs of healing. At the same time, I was beginning to see the other parts of hope, of strength, and of potential that were alive in me through my experiences.
I believe that the health of the human spirit is most served using these tools of self-compassion, and compassion to stay present to our individual experience, needs, and movement through this collective experience. When we tend to and nurture our individual needs, and then turn outward with the same gesture, we can all grow together.
Michele’s work experience and education span a variety of disciplines. Her formal education includes a B.A. in Molecular and Cell Biology, M.S. in Exercise Physiology, and a doctorate in Hermetic Science and Esoteric Philosophy. She acts as a trainer, health coach, and mentor, holding multiple certifications in various wellness fields. Michele also acts as Chair of NWI’s Membership Committee, which works to create the conditions and resources for optimal member enrollment, engagement, encouragement, benefit, and value.