Waves of Grief

It has been a little more than a year since my mom died on April 21, 2011. When her birthday rolled around for the second time this past August 5th my reaction took me by complete surprise. I had been focusing on the upcoming date of August 10th, knowing that this year would mark the one-year anniversary since we spread her ashes. 

I didn’t remember that I had entered an alarm in my phone a long time back to remind me of her birthday. Since I was so focused on getting through August 10th, I hadn’t seen it coming. And boy did it come! With the ringing of that alarm my world shook for two days. Fortunately, I had some appointments scheduled for myself that gave me the support and structure I needed to handle this wave of grief. It was as if those appointments had been intentionally set by me to carry me through the difficult two-day period. I and my brothers also had a three-way telephone call, which added to my sense of safety.

There are times when I expect to feel the grief of her loss. At my niece’s recent wedding in Steamboat Springs, I thought of Mom and how much she would have enjoyed the wedding, the locale, and my niece’s wedding shower. As we prepare for the birth of our first grandchild, I often think of Mom and how thrilled she would have been to welcome her first great-grandchild. I know she would be celebrating Matt’s recovery and be a part of his support system as much as she would be cheering me on for finally getting a sponsor. With all of these moments, when I acknowledge that Mom won’t be here, I can feel the hole of missing her. I know I can’t pick up the phone to share the news with her and hear her response.

Through my own recent experiences, I realized that if we are not prepared, grief can knock us off balance. And although we can do things to ready for periods of impending waves of grief—such as birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, special family events—there can be those times when the unexpected happens, when grief takes us by complete surprise and momentarily sweeps us out to sea.

What I’ve learned during these past 16 months is that as much as I can be prepared and have a support system in place, there will be times when my grief can and does catch me off-guard. What gets me through those times are the many types of support I have available to me. I have wonderful people I can call when I feel sad. My journal serves as a safe place to release my emotions, when I can sit and reflect. I also find ways to connect with Mom on a spiritual level. I may not be able to pick up the phone to talk with her, but through meditation and being quiet, I can connect with her in a different way.

I’ve experienced that my emotions won’t kill me. Every emotion I allow myself to feel heals me further. Feeling my emotions honors me. It is the best way to care for myself. So, when a wave approaches, I know it’s time to slow down, to pause and say no to busyness, and to love myself by being with my feelings.

How do you honor yourself and your feelings? What helps you move through waves of emotion or moments of grief?

Whether expected or not, waves of grief and other emotions represent times of transition and opportunities for new awareness. What if you could handle those transformation graphicmoments with grace, confidence and ease—without additional stress? What if you knew you could be with your feelings and ride the wave? My upcoming workshop, “Transitions and Transformations,” will answer these questions and more. Click HERE for more details.

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