A friend sent me this to share.
7 ways to process grief and what to do if you didn’t get to say goodbye.
- Write a letter
If you didn’t get to say goodbye to a loved one, a hugely helpful exercise is to write a letter to them. Put everything in your letter - apologise, forgive, tell them the things you love about them and also the things you will miss etc. No one will read it, unless you want them to, so be totally honest.
Put the letter in a sealed envelope and, if you can, have it placed in their coffin. If this isn’t possible, have a ritual where you burn the letter in the garden or wrap it around a stone and put it in a canal, stream etc. You will feel such a sense of having communicated something really important.
However, if you are given the chance to say goodbye, when we learn a loved one is dying we must allow ourselves to feel the shock and take time to let it sink in. It brings its own tangled mess of emotions and fears, and whilst everyone copes with grief differently, I have learned through my work with the terminally ill and their families the importance of sharing feelings right from the outset and without censor.
- Be honest
You need to use this time to say everything that needs to be said. Once you start to share it becomes easier, less scary. Share your memories, let tears flow and let the laughter in too - it helps a lot even though it doesn’t lessen the seriousness of the situation, it does help to soothe and help gain a sense of normality and is a great relief of tension and stress.
Don’t be afraid of using words like death and dying. There must be no pretence or we rob ourselves of something we can never get back. Be honest and say what is in your heart and don’t be afraid to discuss their funeral or celebration of life wishes. Knowing that we are carrying out specific requests can bring great comfort and help create spiritual connections with our loved one.
Try to imagine what you would need after the loss and start to put things in place, creating your support network. Take time to ‘sit’ with your feelings and try to find words you can use to describe them. Writing them on paper can make it easier.
Give your loved one permission to die and send them with your blessing. Even though we never want to lose someone, we must accept the laws of nature - we live, we die. We must be present, honest and accepting.
Share your feelings
It is so important that you have someone who can be your sounding board and hold you up when it all gets too much. Someone you can tell how your grief is making you feel. Recognising and acknowledging our emotions at the time we are experiencing them is the perfect way to connect with our instincts and allow the healing process to begin. It’s vital that we can put our pain into words as it really does help to take some of its weight away. Grief really can feel heavy and permanent.
Self care tips to help you cope
Self care can feel indulgent if you aren’t used to putting yourself first but it goes such a long way in providing a firm foundation for dealing with life’s cares and worries.
Self care is necessary to assist the healing process as you begin the journey to reconciling your loss. Engaging in activities that bring you comfort can contribute to your overall wellbeing when you grieve. Self care can take many forms and it’s important to find what works for you.
Fresh air and exercise
There is nothing better to soothe and clear your head than a walk in nature. Try to take a daily walk or at least every other day. The rhythm of your footfall and the fresh air can be better than medicine. If you have a dog that’s even better. Animals are quite magical when our feelings are overwhelming and we don’t want to be with people or justify or hide your true feelings. Just cuddling or stroking our pets can bring a feeling of calm deep within.
My favourite! I call it the power of the pen. Choose a lovely writing book and just write down your thoughts, feelings, fears for the future or anything else that comes up. You don’t need to write in it every day, just when you feel you need to. Every so often look back at what you have written to see how far you have come.