One thing I have learned for sure in the last four years is I knew absolutely squat about grieving previously. Oh, I thought I knew. My pets had passed. A couple friends had passed. For goodness sake, my favorite uncle and parents had passed and yet I knew nothing of the levels of feeling in the grieving process.

Every time I show up for a client in a session I have to be aware there may be some grief in there. It may not be related to someone who had passed. It may be a relationship that ended, a job not obtained or a trauma from years ago that had not been released. I am very good with other people’s pain. I understand it, feel it, am in awe of the transformative power of it and very aware that if they are sharing it with me, I better be honoring it while providing a safe place for them to experience theirs.

Yet walking through my own is like wandering around in a dark room with a blindfold on and the gravity of Earth turned off some days. It’s not every day or even every week but sometimes it whallops so hard that I can’t catch my breath. Have you had this? I believe you have. See, we all experience grief in our own way and often to our own selves. There isn’t enough talking about it in our culture here in the states anyway. We are either supposed to move on immediately or we are supposed to be in mourning the rest of our lives.

The truth is if you are aware of your grief and you are allowing your feelings to show, it is going to be somewhere in the middle. There will be times when the pain isn’t so strong and other times a song can bring you to your knees and tears. I hope it does. That is truth. That is feeling and that is how you process through to authentic healing. Balance doesn’t happen overnight and it may not happen for years, but it is possible.

I used to hear from others that they can’t ever get over the passing of a brother, husband, wife, daughter, niece, nephew, friend and all other connections. While I respect the level of pain a passing creates, I have often felt that if this is the statement then the person either didn’t have the skills to move through their pain or they don’t want to. Yes, the later happens. I see it all the time. The desire to sit in their stuff. Perhaps feeling all the levels of grief is just too big a task for them or they receive the attention they love from being in it so they stay. It’s all very individual.

I have said before that lamenting over someone passing is not what those who have croaked want from us. I know this and at times have found myself saying “well, tough noogies because I am in a pity party right now and I want to pout.” And I do. For a short time. This is the key. Short times are fine, staying in it is not. The same is true of a divorce twenty years ago and how your parents treated you when you were young. You are not there. You are here now. Maybe your brain could use a loving reminder of that.

Consider that you are here to experience your life to the highest joy and are you doing that if you are staying in the old pain level and not allowing yourself to progress through?

I get it. I know that fall on the floor crying because the pain is so great. I called it the Widow’s Wail. What I don’t get is consciously choosing to be in suffering when it is just not necessary. Get help. Seek connection. Decide you are worth being in an exploratory process, your process, of joy. Start there.

As I write this, it is the fourth year anniversary of my husband Howard’s croaking. It has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination but you know what it has been? Amazing. Every bleeping step of the way. The pain, the joy, the memories, the anger, the frustration, the disbelief, the growth and the unknowing. It has all been amazing. It’s the perspective that can change an experience that others may deem as only horrible to one that is of learning, humorous, loving and heart opening. The pain has lessened and in the moment it hits, I know it is fleeting and will soon move into an appreciation that this is the life I get to live and I best be present to it and asking myself how can I most be in my joy. In honors him, it honors me and the people in my life now.

We all grieve differently and as they say “you do you”. If, though, you feel like the you you are currently doing doesn’t line up, maybe the perspective is changing and you are realizing that you can be fluid in your grief too. It doesn’t define your whole life or your whole you. Unless you let it.