The Unexpected Positive Sides of Grief
Losing someone you love is a profound experience that could influence the rest of your life. You may be completely unprepared for the surge tide of emotions and thoughts, which can overwhelm you at any time, or the sense of disengagement from the life you have known. Whatever your cultural values and belief system, navigating your grief is a personal journey of feeling and healing – from which you will emerge changed. Here are the unexpected positive sides of grief.
Here are some reflections on positive lessons from loss. While some may resonate more strongly than others, I firmly believe each lesson represents an opportunity to grow.
Grief may be the first time you have experienced your emotions authentically. It can be challenging, but ultimately liberating, to connect with our primal feelings such as love, need, anger, and sorrow, and to allow yourself to be present with them. Doing so removes the fear of judgement and replaces it with self-acceptance.
Perhaps uniquely, when we are mourning we have unconditional support from those around us and from society in general, which may challenge our expectations and previous experience. We receive without asking, and without risk of rejection, and enter into a cycle of compassion and gratitude.
The absence of our loved one is a poignant reminder that the life we knew is forever altered. A yearning for change, to mark the transition from then to now, provides the impetus to re-evaluate friendships, family relationships and even our relationship with ourselves (our bodies, our self-talk, etc.). At this pivotal time, we may ask questions about the life we have led and whether it is still (or has ever been) a true expression of our deepest self.
How do we choose to live from this moment onward?
We can also experience a spiritual awakening, leading us on a quest to understand consciousness, the spirit, our connection to the Universe, and our life’s purpose. We may suddenly – and unexpectedly – be drawn to books, practices, ideas and philosophies that contain pieces of the puzzle. Even a chance conversation may provide answers. In a sense, we are gathering together the fragments of our new self.
When we allow ourselves to be, and to receive and give ourselves space to awaken, we become empowered. The combination of a heightened emotional state and a focused desire for change enables us to cast off dysfunctional patterns and conditions that make us unhappy or restrict us. Having embraced the seemingly unbearable pain of grief, what more is there to fear change?
Often, when we encounter death we feel the urge to rush headlong into life. The recognition that we are only here for a finite time (whatever happens afterwards!) can exalt everyday existence through the five senses. Conscious breathing, savouring our food, nourishing and celebrating our bodies, immersing ourselves in Nature – these are just some of the ways to feel more alive. As we live more consciously we inevitably begin to transform the lives around us.
Having been supported we may want to give something back, either to our loved ones or to the wider community. This creates a ripple effect and not only helps others but also connects us to their needs and well-being. By reaching out we live a more expansive life, made richer through the opportunities to give and receive.
Loss rips a hole in our hearts and our lives, but the space left behind isn’t barren. It is a cradle of potential, a void waiting to be filled. We honour the deceased by the way we live with the legacy of their memory.
If you feel it’s time for you to make changes in your life, whether, in response to a physical loss or a purely emotional one, it would be my privilege to be a guide on your journey.