Dr. Robert Holden, a psychologist whose focus is happiness and love, talks about “meeting” grief. He says there’s nothing to heal except maybe our relationship to grief. Grief itself can not be healed, like any other feeling, it just wants to be met.
Met, felt and respected.
Being with grief, then, is the goal. Letting it be, pass through, reappear unbothered.
There’s a skill in this. It’s easy to be with joy or happiness. Effortless.
But we often judge the grief. It’s too much, too little, inconvenient, unwanted.
For me, grief feels like “stuck” which feels like I’m wasting time. There’s so much to do and when I’m in a wave of grief, I’m paralyzed.
I’m getting better at recognizing when stuck is grief. Before, when I would feel this way—unproductive and unmotivated—I’d be angry with myself for my laziness.
Now I can see it’s grief demanding to be met. Felt. Acknowledged.
Writer Carolyn Wells says,
“Grieving is an expression of gratitude, and that expression doesn’t have to be rushed.”
I’ve wanted to rush through grieving. Any pain, actually. But I’ve found over and over again, that I can’t.
It just won’t cooperate.
I may be able to suppress it for a bit, to get something done—make dinner for my kids, interact with a client, call the plumber.
But it always comes back. Sometimes bigger.
So I’m learning to allow the waves. If I play nice, it does too. When there’s no resistance, the whole process flows through. That’s the irony—when I don’t have time and I resist, it takes longer.
Also, when I’m not trying to deny it, I don’t need alcohol or food to comfort the mess of grief and resistance. I just need a pad and pen, or a comfy chair, or a walk in nature or a hug.
It’s helped to think of grieving as an expression of gratitude.
Grieving means there was loss. And loss means there used to be something there. Being thankful that it was. I can do that.
Grief comes in all shapes and sizes. Huge, like the loss of a loved one or smaller like a friend cancelling a dinner date or a work meeting that didn’t go as planned.
We call the small ones disappointments, but make no mistake, it’s a version of grief.
The hard part about these is that they can go unrecognized.
We often judge these disappointments as “no big deal.” But without the acknowledgement of the disappointment/sadness/grief it can be a trigger for eating, an uncontrollable craving for carbs.
When we don’t connect the two, the desire to eat (desire for comfort) and the feelings, the intense cravings seem hopeless, endless and inevitable.
They are not.
Get curious about cravings. Think of them as red flags alerting you there’s some pain close by. Discover the source and give it what it needs—some love, attention, a full-fledged meeting.
With practice, the process of recognizing the pain becomes easier. Eventually, you no longer need the middleman—and the cravings fade away.