letting your grief in, letting your stress go

Grief is a natural response to loss. It can be felt in many ways. Grief’s impact can be emotional, social, spiritual, physical and financial. It is as individual as the person you loved and lost. Grieving while living away from family and friends can be especially difficult. This is a place where you can share your thoughts, and get ideas on how to cope. It is here for you to get support and validation.

letting your grief in, letting your stress go

Postby kateyfurgason » Fri Dec 20, 2013 5:57 pm

It is said, the number one stressor in life is when someone you love dies.
We know, as we move closer to loosing someone we love, or that we have already lost, we feel overwhelmed with emotions, emotions that vary and change without warning. We can feel our inner and outer life is out of our control, we can feel loss at a level so deep in our hearts words cannot define it, we can feel relief, we can, and will, feel a vast array of emotions, all healthy, all 'normal', all needed.
But, all of this(our emotions), we are told, are stressors, that we are in stress, defined by the Oxford Dictionary as: 'a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances'.
We also know, as there are countless articles and studies, that stress is intertwined with diminished health. Following this through, we have a situation in which the griever is in an emotional state directly causing heightened stress and therefor at a heightened risk of physical deterioration. This scenario needs to shift.
Lets look at this from a different angle. Lets look at stress as a result of NOT allowing yourself to feel the feelings you have, of NOT allowing yourself to accept, embrace, acknowledge, understand and empathize with your own feelings.
Someone you love dying does not cause stress directly per se. Stress seems to be caused by rejecting, denying or ignoring the vast array of normal feelings that arise out of coping with the death of a loved one. The griever can, will and should, feel and accept all of grief; the agony, fear, anger, loneliness, deep love, isolation, gratefulness, reflections, guilt etc without stress by embracing each emotion it brings to us.
One of the major difficulties I have found in my own grieving is that it can be isolating. Our culture has kept death 'away', like a dark secret, and so when it comes into our lives we must learn how to mourn, how to live and move with our grief. We must learn how to treat ourselves, how to allow ourselves the right to grieve fully and in our own way, while simultaneously interacting with a world in which others may not understand.
Years ago I did not understand what it was to fully grieve, until one day that began to change.
My mother, a grief counselor, asked me to volunteer at a grief and loss workshop for children. I was needed to hand out cookies and juice, to help cut out pictures from magazines for collages, to walk a child to the bathroom if needed, all very simple tasks yet I was afraid to do them. I was afraid of witnessing breaking hearts and having nothing to offer. Fear and ignorance needed to change to understanding and compassion. After some time and lots of research and long talks with my mother, I decided to make pillows. Pillows with deep soft interiors to hold whatever needed to be held; mementos, letters, photos, writings and drawings...so a look inside the pillow would be a look inside a heart. With this soft and deep pocketed pillow the children could place the, the feelings, the changes, the emotionally charged objects that filled their grief journey and be comforted by them all. My mother and I sewed pillows for days and I handed them out to the children at the end of the workshop. The children loved them so much, they immediately held them close and talked about what they wanted to put inside. Witnessing this reaction compelled me to make more and now, years later, my life's work is producing these pillows, now named; the 'be loved pillow'.
The 'be loved pillow' gives us a place to let our grief in while letting our stress of denial go.
I have lost two people I loved dearly, grief has broken my heart open to reveal the inherent vulnerability of loving someone.
Grief exists because love exists.
Lets honor our ability to grieve fully as we honor our ability to love fully.
Last edited by kateyfurgason on Mon Feb 24, 2014 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: letting your grief in, letting your stress go

Postby KarenH » Mon Feb 24, 2014 9:37 am

I'm just coming across kateyfurgason's December post now. First of all, your "be loved pillows" sound beautiful. What a wonderful gift.

Reading this post, I equated the word "stress" with anxiety...with holding one's breath in the effort to avoid facing our own grief or walking alongside someone else in theirs. The image was so strong that I found myself holding my own breath while I read the post! I so appreciate the message that the stress/anxiety/fear of avoiding grief may be just as hard on the body and mind as allowing the experience of grief itself.

I hope that others can read your message and take courage from your story - to open themselves to the healing that can come from facing their own grief and the depth that is possible from supporting others in theirs.
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