As I walk along the tree lined streets in November, I am mesmerized by the varying colors of falling leaves coming down around me. It reminds me of the beauty that is present in death.
You may be an individual who finds this time of year very emotionally challenging. The thought of facing the holidays without the physical presence of your loved one is sometimes too much to bear. You would prefer it if the holidays were cancelled this year, and the joyful festivities others were expressing would go away. Fortunately, however, life carries on. Holiday music will continue to play in department stores during this season, and you still need to embrace life without the person or pet you loved so dearly.
Feeling sadness and anger over your loss is a normal human occurrence. The harder we fight to avoid the unpleasant emotions, the longer the healing process will take. It is important to remember that we are spirits living out a human experience. The beauty of being human is having the ability to feel all types of emotions – joy, excitement, curiosity, confusion, anger, frustration, sadness, despair, gratitude.
Emotions are neither good nor bad. Some emotions physically feel more pleasant than others, but all of them come, and all of them go. Jellaludin Rumi suggests in his poem, The Guest House that we “Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows.” For it is in accepting all of our negative human emotions that we are then able to fully experience the joy of the pleasant ones. Richness of living comes from accepting all that life has to offer even if what it is currently offering is sadness. But, consider that when a person permits an emotion to be present - inviting it in for tea like a welcome stranger - the emotion will then eventually feel free to move on. On the other hand, if a person attempts to ignore the emotion as it is knocking on the door expecting an invitation inside, the unwelcome emotion will persist until it gets noticed. It will remain in your body turning into physical tension, pain, or even disease.
Individuals often express to me, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way anymore. It’s been five years.” It takes the average person three years to move through all of the stages of grief. There is no time frame for how long you will feel unpleasant emotions. But, the more you fight how you are presently feeling, the more difficult it becomes. It is like being stuck in quick sand. If you thrash about wanting to avoid the unpleasant situation, the quicker you will sink. If you relax and acknowledge the situation for what it is, you will free yourself and be able to accept the help that is out there for you.
We are not designed to handle life completely on our own and going through the grieving process is no different. According to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory, having a sense of love and belonging ranks third with only needs of food and shelter coming before it. When you isolate yourself from others because you are hurting, you are prolonging your suffering. Overcoming a loss may not be easy, but it is a natural part of living. So when you say, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way,” think again. You are feeling this way and that is okay. It is natural and human to feel that way. But feeling sorrow and despair does not need to prevent you from experiencing life.
It does not matter if you feel like engaging in activities. You just do it. There have been many times before when you did not feel like doing something but you did it anyway. A parent may have told you to clean your room or a teacher gave you a homework assignment you did not want to do. A boss set a schedule you did not want to work. You did all of those things even though you did not feel like doing them. Living life while grieving is no different. Use this life lesson to build a stronger network of friends by joining a support group or becoming involved in a new activity. Visit places you have never gone before or reacquaint yourself with activities you once enjoyed but long since left behind.
Allow yourself the opportunity to fully know what it is like to live this life in human form with all of the ups and downs this lifetime offers. For just this moment, admit to being sad and missing your loved one. Hold them in your heart where they will forever reside. Then, give yourself a hug and move onto a moment which allows you to feel gratitude for having had the experience of loving and losing.
Catrina Stiller is an Intuitive Counselor and Healer. She holds a license as a Practical Counselor and is a National Certified Counselor. Catrina offers healing services to all individuals through a variety of methods. Visit her website at www.catrinastiller.com to learn more.