We have heard it so many times – you have to feel to heal, or the only way out is through, or we need to feel our feelings not ignore them. While I agree with all of these statements, the question I hear often is how? How am I supposed to feel this? How do I know if I am doing it right? And of course there are no real answers to this because we are all so different. How we respond to our grief is unique. How we process our feelings is unique. Perhaps though, a bit of information here might be helpful.

Alan Wolfelt talks about grieving in doses. We can’t feel everything all at once – it is too overwhelming. I call it one thimbleful at a time. You know best how to care for yourself – how you might do this. I must also say, that sometimes there is no controlling it. We have to allow ourselves to fall apart. My friend laid on the couch for two days and cried – this was a couple of years after her husband died. Tears are cleansing. They help to alleviate the heaviness of grief.

Some people collect stones that symbolize their feeling for the day. Some people will throw that stone away after they sit with it for a while. Some people keep them, collect them as a visual diary of their experience.

Some people want to talk it through. This is why our grief support groups are so helpful. We provide a safe space to share our stories and to feel our feelings. Sometimes it is in the witnessing that the healing will happen.

Some people like to walk it through. They walk their grief. Sometimes they take the paths that they shared with their loved one, sometimes they avoid those paths all together. It’s all okay. What heals us one day might not heal us the next.

Some people grieve by journaling. Some people grieve by painting, some people grieve by cooking. Some people grieve by building. It is through action that they find a way to feel.

What is your way?

Grief can take your breath away. Sometimes the work is to come back to your breath, to allow long slow breaths as we name our emotions. Sometimes this is all that is needed, sometimes we need more.

How do we feel our emotions? What does that even mean?

Sometimes we need permission…

Some people like to schedule it in…

Some people will fall apart in the grocery store…

Some people will find time to be alone with their feelings, and some people will find time to share their feelings with people.

What is your way?

Give yourself permission to find your way, give yourself permission to be gentle with yourself as you do.

Denise Torgerson
Community Programs