Honoring Your Own Experience of Grief

Variation and uniqueness are truly evident in the way each of us experiences grief. For some, it often feels heavy, and we may be hesitant to let ourselves move through grief. Sometimes it might feel like there’s pressure to “move on” or navigate feelings around grief in a certain set of steps or within a particular time frame. While grieving can be described as such a universal human experience, the way we each make space for grief and allow ourselves to navigate it in our own ways is important to the healing process. 

Not only can grief be present when we lose someone that we love, it can also show up in many different circumstances such as changing friendships, breakups, shifting life roles or jobs, or an ambiguous loss. Grief might surprise us sometimes by arising in anticipation of a significant loss, and it also might surprise us by surfacing when we weren’t expecting it. Regardless of the source, grief can cause deep emotional pain and physical pain. It may manifest as sadness, depression, anger, numbness, guilt, or hopelessness. Additionally, we can experience it in our bodies such as through feelings of discomfort, heaviness in the limbs, aches, fatigue, changes in the immune system functioning, or sleep problems, to name a few examples. 


Moving through the grieving process is an essential component to healing, and there are a several things we can keep in mind that can help us remember and honor the uniqueness of our own journeys. 

First, there is no “right” path to grieving. Grieving can be unpredictable and ebb and flow in its intensity. What each person needs in the midst of grief at any given time in their journey can vary. Setting expectations about what to feel, when to feel it, or timelines for ourselves can be distressing and hinder the process of experiencing and honoring however grief is uniquely showing up. We each have our own rhythm to grieving.

Furthermore, our body has information for us in the healing process. It’s important to pay attention to what is showing up for us physically. What might this sensation be communicating? What is being held in different parts of the body? How can this awareness inform how we take care of ourselves? 

One more thing that to recognize is that it’s important to be gentle with yourself by also holding onto goodness as you notice it. For some, guilt sneaks in when we allow ourselves to experience things like joy and laughter and peace in a season of grieving. It’s understandable that these might feel like conflicting experiences, and it’s valuable to let yourself also hold what feels good. In this space, there is also healing. 


Whatever grief might be sitting with you these days and however you might be trying to grasp a shifted reality due to loss or change, please know that you don’t have to choose between falling apart and staying strong. There’s room to grieve however it is showing up for you. 


Blog by Maria Heaney, MA
Photo by Eva Bronzini via Pexels