“There is no grief like the grief that does not speak.” (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
As mental health professional I have had so many mixed feelings the last few days. The murders of children in China and Newport, CT have had a profound affect on me and many others. I have loved seeing the topic of mental health being discussed so openly in many forums. For the good or bad I love exposure to mental health because I think it helps, little by little, decrease the stigma. At the same time my heart hurts for the pain that seems to be splattered across the media, social marketing, etc. It’s as if people forget that their words matter, have meaning, and accountability.
I don’t think we, as humans, know how to grieve very well.
Nowadays it is so easy to say what you feel without any accountability. So we grieve with our words. We get angry with others, we blame people, or objects. We blame organizations or companies, we shout acclamation’s to the media to cover more or stop covering horrific scenes. We want families to be able to grieve in private and yet we demand to know how they are doing. We want to some how help or make things better but we are at a loss of how to do that.
Instead of being still, taking time to grieve, and assessing the situation, then moving forward–we make a lot of noise.
Grief, anger, passion, opinions, these are the things that make us human. They are okay. It’s what we do with these emotions that tell our story. We need to tread lightly, to think before we speak/write, and live a motto that speaks more to seeking to understand BEFORE being understood. Sometimes our greatest intentions can cause the most damage.
Personally and as a grief therapist I have seen a few things that seen to help in the grieving process. And so I thought I would share a few:
1. Be still
In the wake of tsunamis, earthquakes, planes flying into buildings, mass murders, school shootings, and so much violence & noise there seems to be a need for silence and moment to just be still. Instead of spewing your feelings on everyone or writing it all over Facebook it is best to sit with the feelings/words for a little while. I know they feel awful and awkward and painful. But there is something incredible that happens when we sit in our stuff. What we really want to say or feel seems to rise to the top while all the rest seems to fall to the bottom. With clarity comes better communication.
This is the Japanese word that is closely related to initiative in English. It means to ignite your spirit to awareness. I LOVE this word. When it comes to grieving I think it means to stop asking what you can do and do it. Notice a need and fill it. This goes a long way especially for those who are overwhelmed with grief. They don’t even know what they want or need so how could they ever tell you.
I think there are many times we might regret saying things but rarely will we ever regret taking the time to listen. Sometimes just being there is enough. This means when you are needed you are in proximity. Listen to your heart. Listen to the spirit. Listening is the best thing I know that can help with speaking.
4. Be Creative
Some people listen to music. Some people write. Some people dance. Some people create or plant a tree. Sometimes people raise money. Whatever it is that you do I find that being generative or creative seems to really help in the grieving process. There is something very cathartic and therapeutic about being creative.
5. Process in Safe Places
Be careful where you share your pain. Some people are not ready to hold your tears or heart. Maybe Facebook isn’t the place to spew your poison. Please find people, a therapist, safe places, where you can get out your emotions. Our bodies are not meant to be vessels of pain. When we are hurt or cut our bodies immediate reaction is to heal. Our soul is the same way. It needs to process through pain and anger. Please find ways to process that are safe.