Grieving Before the Loss

Life is not always easy and to watch someone we love suffer can make it unbearable. All too often the grieving process starts before the person who is ill is ready to make others feel better, or even face the end of the battle themselves. Tempers flare, feelings fly out of people’s mouths and tears flow uncontrollably. It stems from feeling helpless and being overwhelmingly sad at the same time. One might say that the entire world that they know has become tilted in an effort to minimize the burden of carrying around a heavy, invisible boulder known as grief.

Offering kindness in the face of such adversity seems like a cliche, but it actually has a healing effect that is contagious and can change the temperature of a room in an instant. Grief is messy business because we are human and there is no handbook of etiquette. But we have to remember to offer kindness to ourselves first and the rest will follow.

Venture into mindfulness at times when the feelings become unmanageable. This simply means to reground yourself through a form of meditation. Some people reconnect with their five senses: focus on one thing each that you can see, feel, taste, hear, and touch. Next, slow down your breathing by inhaling deeply through your nose for a count of four and slowly exhale through pursed lips for a count of six. Repeat. This process slows down your autonomic nervous system (your flight-or-fight and/or freeze response) and has a very calming effect on your brain and body.

Everyone grieves and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Take care of yourself first so that you can be there for others. Families all have dysfunctions and these tend to become illuminated at the most inopportune times, and especially at funerals when emotions are raw. Kindness is armor. Love yourself.

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