ANOLENE THANGAVELU PILLAY
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to prepare for grief that will work for everyone. Pretty much each strategy relies on the unique experience of an individual.
How does one define grief? Grief is the natural response to loss caused by heartfelt emotions. Individuals must prepare themselves in accordance with their loss experience, their own story, and their own context and meaning.
The insights in this article explore the journey of discovering light in the darkest times as it prepares us to grieve healthily.
When you begin to prepare, the grieving process becomes easier to manage. You may associate grieving with the death of a loved one. But any loss leads to grief, including a relationship break-up, loss of financial stability or a miscarriage.
Although the mixed feelings of grief can be overwhelming, they are not permanent states of minds. Today, more individuals are applying advanced practices in preparation for healthier grief. A modern approach to a hard-and-fast rule is taking the preparation for grief as a challenge.
Difficult emotions experienced in times of intense grief include anger, shock, guilt and deep sadness. Studies show that the emotions can be changed to hope, strength and resilience.
Preparing yourself mentally to deal with what is going to happen next is a step that directs you in a positive direction towards a crossroad, a turning point, where most individuals find their true purpose in life.
Be willing to change how you see life, by making a positive shift in your mind. This results in a positive mental reset with the focus on moving forward. Proper preparation for this period of grieving requires resilience.
Knowing that a loved one will no longer be part of your life leaves you devastated. Your heart shatters into a million pieces, as if you were falling apart. Eventually, you realise that death is an unavoidable aspect of life.
Having a sense of meaning and purpose helps us overcome the challenge. As you begin to acknowledge the pain, many “why” questions come to mind. Understand the circumstances related to a loved one’s condition. As feelings of grief surface, allow yourself some space to be vulnerable. Crying relieves emotional suffering.
Prepare yourself for healthy grieving by riding with the waves. It is human nature to develop a grief denial while avoiding painful experiences. Most individuals cannot journey beyond the fences that encircle their homes.
More fundamentally, individuals may lack the insight to fully engage in such critical conversations around grief. Although, not easy, open yourself to healing. Become your own support system. Inspire yourself with thoughts, words or actions that are holistic and meaningful. Fulfil your life with activities that uplift you.
Know your needs and boundaries during this period. Avoid reliance on outside validation. Gain knowledge about grief and its symptoms, so you can recognise the triggers of grief which include anger, sadness and emptiness. Giving your identity a better sense of purpose allows you to feel empowered to create a happier you.
We learn about our ability to manage grief only as we go through it. Find strength by adopting a calm and clear mind for an easier and faster path through the preparation of grief. Preparing yourself emotionally will lead to good and bad days. This is not a sign of relapse, this is how grief works, a forward movement, a step closer towards acceptance of loss.
Preparing for grief provides us with an opportunity to reflect on what matters most to us. A reason to step out into the world each day, despite facing emotional grief. Living life while preparing for grief, changes us in profound ways. A progressive change in our mindset takes us to a place known as acceptance.
This includes work on the gradual acceptance of grief, managing daily emotions and visualising a positive future. Someday, you can look back and narrate your own story, and your own experience of how your preparation to grieve helped overcome challenges faced during the difficult period, holding onto reminders ,specifically on the more important days, and being able to connect healthily with memories.
The challenge of healthy preparation is to co-exist or adapt to the feelings of grief. Let yourself feel the hard stuff, lean into it and acknowledge the need, no matter how tough it is, in order to surf the waves with inner strength. As you prepare to grieve, it becomes darker and colder. Hope is a powerful force that reminds us of who we are and what we represent.
Eventually, we come to acceptance of a possible heartfelt loss. Awareness of death makes life fascinating by giving it meaning, purpose and value. Life seems empty if we have neither meaning nor purpose. Shift your minds to seek and, if necessary, create the meaning that we so desperately seek to discover, the light.
Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a psychology adviser.