I was talking with a client recently who is navigating a significant change in her life. When I asked her how she was processing her grief, her answer was she wasn’t. Her answer did not surprise me. Unless the loss is a death, most people don’t think grief is a thing they would feel during change.
Yet I know anytime there is a change, something has been lost. And anytime there is loss then grief is likely to be present. There is no one way for grief to show up and that’s what makes it so tricky especially when navigating change. It becomes even trickier if the change is something you’ve instigated.
I recently lost my dad unexpectedly. While processing this loss and the resulting change in my life, I learned a few things about allowing grief, even and especially during change.
As I already said, grief is one of the many things you’ll experience while navigating change. Expect it to show up. It might look like deep sadness, irritability, anxiousness, or anger. For me, my grief is showing up as moments of extreme exhaustion. There is no one way for grief to show up. What’s important is that you expect it as part of the process of allowing grief.
Feel your feelings
Allowing grief means you have to feel whatever it is you need to feel. If you’re sad, be sad. If you’re angry, be angry. As has been well documented, there are stages to the grief process, and it is not linear. Your process will look different than the person next to you and that’s okay.
Don’t judge it
Judging your grief may result in you inadvertently trying to numb or ignore it. But ignoring your grief won’t make it go away. If anything, it causes it to take root in potentially harmful ways long term. Saying things like “I shouldn’t feel this way” or “What’s wrong with me? I should be able to move on already.” Anything along those lines is you judging, and the judgment will only keep you stuck.
If you compare your grief with another person’s, you’ll undermine your process. This is the one I am working with at the moment. My dad had seven children and each of us is handling the loss of him differently. I have caught myself comparing my grief to that of my siblings, sometimes feeling like I wasn’t grieving enough. I’m learning this comparison is unproductive and does nothing to help with processing grief.
Probably the most important piece of allowing grief during seasons of change is to know that you can feel joy in the midst of your sorrow. Your grief doesn’t have to lessen the joy you feel nor does your joy mean your sorrow isn’t still present. It can, and is often, both/and not either/or.
As there is no one way for grief to show up, there is also no timeline for how long it will be with you. It takes as long as it takes. Trying to rush yourself along may cause you to bypass important lessons along the way.
This is especially true if you have chosen the change. It’s one thing if the change is forced upon you. It’s another thing entirely if you chose to make the change. If you chose it, you may feel you don’t have a right to grieve. Or decide you need to get on with it faster.
Unfortunately, that’s not how this works. Grieving takes as long as it takes no matter how the change came about. Give yourself permission to allow your grief. In the allowing you might discover a few unexpected things to guide you on your journey through change.
Now, I’d like to hear from you. How are you at allowing grief during change? Are you surprised to learn that grief is often present while navigating change?
Tell me in the comments below or feel free to email me at makeda(at)makedapennycooke(dot)com.
Here’s to you allowing grief and finding new ways to rise into your greatness.
From my heart to yours,
P.S: If you find yourself struggling to navigate your way through the many emotions of change, let’s talk. Click here to schedule a complimentary call with me. On this free call, we’ll look at how to get your unstuck and moving forward again. Schedule your free call today.