You will be ambushed by grief. Count on it. If you have ever experienced any sort of loss or heartache in life, grief will surprise you from time to time.
Sometimes you can come to expect it, and then you’re somewhat prepared. Sometimes not.
I have been divorced for two years, and still I feel pangs of grief when I drop off the boys with their mom or hear that the boys got to do something special when I was not around. I imagine I will face these pangs from time to time for the rest of my life, but they are continually less difficult as I move on and adjust.
While we cannot always know when we will experience grief, we can choose ahead of time how we will respond. Let me suggest several things.
1. Acknowledge your grief. The worst thing you can do to yourself is deny your pain. Peace begins by being honest with yourself. Experiencing grief and sadness are part of the human condition. If you deny your pain you cut yourself off from the common experiences of the whole human race, denying yourself the permission to learn from them.
2. Honor your grief. We are only able to be injured by someone or something if we value them highly. If we minimize the grief we feel we deny the value of what we lost. Use the grief as a reminder to remember all of the good things you have experienced.
3. Walk through your grief. I don’t remember who said it, but a week or two ago I heard a writer on a copyblogger podcast say, “Shortcuts are the longest.” So true. The shortest way to the other side of pain and grief is simply to face it and walk through it. Here is where friends and counselors are immensely helpful at times; the right person can help guide us through this path, especially if they have been there before themselves. The truth is that you have to grieve. The longer you avoid it and put it off the longer it will take you to recover and move on.
4. Share your experience. You may be terrified of sharing your story with someone else, but as you walk with someone else through their pain and share your story with them, you heal yourself. You are no longer alone or hiding. Healing comes in community, and you can only have community if someone bares their soul.
How have you learned to deal with unexpected grief?