Grief and loss can call on us to take up a challenge of tasks -- not a list of tasks to check off one by one, but, instead, a series of on-going experiments in self compassion.
Navigating grief and loss is tricky. It's gritty. Testing and exploring what works for us can feel like fumbling around in the dark. However, the reward can be a greater sense of self assurance and confidence in our process. Here are some of the tasks I've encountered in my work in palliative care bereavement and in my own journeys in grief...
Stewardship and flexibility --- Using our intuition to guide ourselves from moment-to-moment, day-to-day can seem so out of reach. Giving ourselves permission to change our minds, change our actions, welcome any thoughts or feelings that come up can be helpful. Being okay with the imperfections in our process and having the willingness to try again are part of stewarding our grief or loss.
Navigating alone/together --- Being alone and being with others will be soothing at different times. Some people find it's helpful to say, "I don't feel up to company right now but please ask me again over the next while," or "Thanks for checking in on me. Keep it up." to invite the request next time. Because people are often hesitant to approach those in grief out of respect for privacy or just not knowing how to comfort, one of our sub tasks in grief or loss can be to encourage future conversations. This can be an empowering way to set boundaries and connections.
Finding the 'trusted others' --- These are the people who 'really get it' and who might already be "initiated into the grief club" as one client put it. Trusted others can be close family members or friends. Or they can show up in surprising areas in our lives. Tune your radar frequency to pick up on trusted others and talk with them as much as you can.
Navigating grief or loss takes energy. It can look like a lot of stumbling and not a lot of finesse. In addition to all the other conclusions we will draw over time about our situation, reconciling grief or loss offers us an opportunity for deeper self compassion.
Return to blog to read Self Compassion in Grief: A Collection of Tasks (Part 2)