Grieving takes as long as it takes
“Remember: grief can be good for you. Grieving is a natural way of helping you come to accept that someone you love is gone and will not return. Grieving is a natural way to let go of life as you once knew it, so you can hold on to what will never leave you and what you will always know.”
--James E. Miller, in his book
Winter Grief Summer Grace
Bereavement counseling, sometimes called grief counseling, is the process of building a trusting relationship with someone who understands loss and who understands that grieving takes as long as it takes. This person may be a mental health professional, a clergyperson or your next door neighbor, but they share the same qualities: listening, acceptance, patience and presence.
Not all grieving begins after a loss. Anticipatory grief begins as one learns that time is limited before a death or loss is certain to occur. When it's not a matter of if but when. Caregivers and family members are often in this position of preparing to say goodbye and each time of being with their loved one feels as though it may be the last. It may feel torturous. However, many describe this time of preparing for a death to be a gift. The gift of time to say what needs to be said and done and enjoyed and learned.
After the rituals of a memorial service or funeral, the casseroles and offers of help, and after the last family has left is when your true grieving may begin. You may sleep more, become absent minded, want to isolate for a while, cry at the drop of a pin or be dry eyed and wish you could cry. You might not attend church services like you once did or not attend book group meetings because socializing seems just too much. All of these are normal. All are temporary though time may pass slowly and you wonder how long it will be before you feel better. Grieving takes as long as it takes.
If there was ever a time for self compassion, grieving is that time. What is self compassion? It is accepting yourself as you are in all your sadness, anger, confusion, fatigue, uncertainty, depression and whatever other messiness might be going on. Self compassion is experiencing what is there, letting it occupy space within your being and honoring it, trying not to shove it away. Self compassion is giving yourself the freedom to sleep in, say no, watch funny movies, wear your pajamas all day, cry for as long as you need as often as you want. Self compassion is about being brave enough to know when it's time to say yes to grieving and time to say yes to moving forward.
Whether you are grieving the death of a beloved pet or a person you love, or you have lost a job or a place you love, grieving is what begins the healing. I would be honored to be your trusted, compassionate, listening, healing presence as you grieve. For as long as it takes.
Willowgreen has audio visual resources for grief and loss; blogs and books on grief, loss and caregiving and notecards.
Colorado Springs Mindful Grief Support A meetup group that offers workshops, activities and groups for people of all ages who are grieving.
Grief support groups throughout the year for those living near Colorado Springs.