Grief is hard, but THIS is harder.

By: Natalie Jensen, Supervisee in Social Work

Grief is work, avoiding grief is even more work.

                                                       – David Kessler

Sometimes it can feel like there are never enough days, minutes, or hours to get everything “done.” Sometimes it can be difficult to decide on the gym, school, work projects, or planning the family gathering. Sometimes life feels so full that we cannot imagine one more thing filling the space in our lives.

Then there is grief.

It can come in many forms and shapes. It can be pushed to the back of the line or hidden in parts of our lives we rarely visit. It is, however, a human experience and response that deserves and needs tending.

Whether it is days, months or even years old, it can show up when least expected to remind us of its gravity and breadth. Grief can affect us in countless ways: body, mind, and soul. We may notice not feeling like ourselves physically (gastrointestinal issues, headaches, exhaustion). Our thoughts can be a flurry of worry, fear, disregard, and detachment. Our soul – our innermost self – can be battling to stay afloat and care at all. We may go through the motions of life and not recognize we have disengaged or isolated. It is interrelated with all we do and are. We can choose to suppress its attention seeking signals, but I would offer, as Kessler suggests in the quote above, that complete disregard for grief’s journey might create a more difficult path.

Grief can “rear its ugly head,” often leaving us wondering, “What is happening? Why do I FEEL this way?” Many times the answer might be grief – seeking attention.

Consider that perhaps giving ourselves permission to process our grief could benefit other areas of life needing our energy and attention (family, friends, work). When we are overwhelmed, it can leave us feeling depleted. Taking a pause and honoring some of our deeper grief emotions can be challenging. If these emotions are left in a box, ignored, or continually deferred, they may show up for us in far more egregious ways. We may not see that effect until it has become overpowering or we are numb. We may find ourselves unable to focus or find motivation. We may lash out towards loved ones or notice growing frustration toward anything and everything. We may feel like a ping pong ball bouncing between deep sadness or a strong sense of longing to understand “why”. It is possible that avoidance could make the work of grieving even more difficult. Don’t get me wrong; it IS difficult work. From personal experience, and that of the many who I have had the privilege to work with, it can be made harder by ignoring or not deeming it important enough

With this idea in mind, I invite you to consider an upcoming grief group for adults at our Old Town location. In the upcoming months, this blog series will introduce some ideas and concepts related to the specific topic of grief and processing in a group setting. It is a courageous step to reflect, reach out, and participate in a group. I hope you might consider the possibility of honoring your grief journey.