Allowing Grief to do its Work

It's okay to cry when things go wrong and something has silenced the earthly song of friends or relatives, loved ones dear, and everything that we hold so near.*

Grief is the most difficult emotion we will ever experience.
Grief is the most difficult emotion we will ever experience. | Source

It takes time to grieve

We cannot expect grief to be resolved quickly. We experience a wide range of feelings and thoughts. Our natural inclination is to push against them or try to get rid of them. The power of these feelings makes them unpleasant, and we are not sure how to deal with them.

We may find ourselves having memories that elicit happiness and joy one moment, and the next we are filled with sadness and despair. The roller coaster affect of grief makes everyday life difficult and unpredictable. We may do things we never thought we would, or blunder through mistakes that just don't make sense, given our training and experience. At times like these, it is easy to get down on ourselves, thinking that we need to get over it and get on with life.

Unfortunately, telling ourselves this only exacerbates the problem. The following paragraphs contain suggestions for allowing grief to do its work. When these emotions well up inside us, rather than fighting against them, we can acknowledge the rising waves, climb on our surfboard, and go for a ride! Doing so allows grief to do its work, and us to have a more scenic point of view.

It's okay to feel the sadness deep and seek some solace, emotional relief, to be with others who seem to know our feelings and help our grief let go.

Crying provides the lubrication for our broken heart to begin the healing process.
Crying provides the lubrication for our broken heart to begin the healing process. | Source

Allow the tears to come

Crying is a gut-wrenching experience! The body heaves out emotion as the tears gush from our eyes and the mucous is blown from our nose. There is no pretty way for it to happen, we just have to find a private place and let go!

According to the article, "Three Benefits of Crying" (Link), crying relieves stress. Grief is considerable stress, and the best release for it is in the tears that we cry. Just as with other forms of stress, grief nags at us, pushing our feelings of self-worth into a corner, threatening to take away the very foundation of our lives.

It gives us hope and a feeling of peace when empathy and love around us increase. It's okay, too, when we do receive for it lets us know that others believe.

The second benefit of crying noted in the article is that of improved communication. We usually cry when our grief is at its most poignant, and that is the time when we need assistance. Allowing ourselves to cry helps others realize we need extra love and attention.

Once we are past the initial stage of grief, crying tends to become more private. We shed tears when we remember the sweetness of a past relationship, are reminded of something special that was done, or experience the anniversary of a shared holiday. As we savor these remembrances, we can enjoy them for what they are, sweet morsels of mercy and grace, oases to our parched souls.

Crying enables the stress to be released in such a way that the we feel a heightened sense of well-being. Just as opening the floodgates takes the pressure off of an overfilled reservoir of water, crying relieves the pent up emotions that are jumbled together from our grief, making room for the receipt of positive feelings.

It's okay to sigh and relax for a time when energy is zapped by such feelings sublime, when emotions and pain have taken their toll with those that are missing from the roster or roll.

For a time, our hearts seem lost, unable to register the poignant feelings that are going on all around. As we do things that are outside our ordinary routine, we give our hearts a breath of fresh air and a chance to rejuvenate.
For a time, our hearts seem lost, unable to register the poignant feelings that are going on all around. As we do things that are outside our ordinary routine, we give our hearts a breath of fresh air and a chance to rejuvenate. | Source

Relax and rest

Grief saps our energy, leaving us feeling wasted, washed out, and exhausted. We may not feel like doing much of anything. It is okay to relax and rest, allowing our bodies to rejuvenate. This is especially true if we have been integrally involved with the final activities of the recently departed.

How can we know if fatigue is an issue? Check for the following:

  • Dropping things
  • Tripping and falling over nothing
  • Forgetting scheduled activities
  • Losing track of personal affects
  • Not caring about the needs of others

All of these indicate that our personal needs are not been met, and we are running on empty. It is time for some recreation; not necessarily in the form of sports and physical activity, but in the form of a distraction, allowing the body the opportunity to recuperate. Different types of recreation provide different benefits. These are explained below:

It's okay to dream of a time and a place where there is a wonderful human race and bad things don't happen and people are kind, with tragedy the farthest thing from our mind.

Take a trip - get away from the current surroundings and see some new scenery. Stay at the home of a relative, find a secluded camp site, or just go for a drive to a neighboring town for a fresh outlook on life. The more novel the experience, the less likely we are to feel down and out. Things may not change much at home, but we will come back with a better perspective.

Try a new hobby or craft - do something out of the ordinary to give the brain a much needed break. The newness of the activity provides stimulation of feel good hormones and the senses time to focus on something different. Life will continue on, and we may find the new hobby is something we want to continue in the future.

Attend a live performance - a live musical or theatrical performance allows our emotional roller coaster to change gears for a while. We find ourselves in the middle of someone else's story and, for a few moments, see life from a different vantage point. As the curtain falls on the performance, our perspective has lightened, and we are ready to go back to our own lives.

Take a walk in nature - walking outdoors lifts the spirit. The sights, smells, and sounds of a walk in the park remind us that life goes on, that other parts of the world are not interrupted by our grief. It gives hope that normalcy will once again be established, and that the sun will come up tomorrow.

It's okay to fly on the wings of a prayer and pretend that the tragedy just isn’t there, to laugh and to sing over stories and jokes, and be just like other ordinary folks.

When we are grieving, memories of the past flood our minds. Allowing them to take us away to another time and place is one way to bring positive resolution to our grief. As we remember, we are able to re-frame our lives for a different future.
When we are grieving, memories of the past flood our minds. Allowing them to take us away to another time and place is one way to bring positive resolution to our grief. As we remember, we are able to re-frame our lives for a different future. | Source

Let the memories come

Memories from the past come readily when we are grieving. It is as if we are rewinding our lives in an effort to find something to steady ourselves as our foundations are rocked to and fro by the earthquake of our grief. We turn back the clock, groping for a sense of stability and strength.

Memories bring with them sights, smells, sounds, and feelings that can be overwhelming. Writing about them helps us make sense of our lives, and gives us material for future reflection. Now is a good time to write memoirs and histories, or go through memorabilia that we have stored in our closets and drawers.

It's okay to turn back the time machine then and remember the time before tragedy began, to look at our life as if in a play, and wish that things were still that way.

Grief changes our world view. In order to find our future, we reconnect with our past. The bridge between the two is the event that brought our grief to the forefront. Reviewing our past allows us to pick and choose from what we used to be and lay it as the foundation for what we will become.

The pain of our grief may bring skeletons from our past onto the stage of our memory. When this happens, our response will determine the tenure of their stay. If we forgive and move on, they will be only temporary house guests. If we dwell on them, they whirlpool around us, pulling us downward. Assistance from family, friends, and perhaps even professionals is needed for their eviction.

Should we feel a tug from our conscious to revisit actual places from our past, caution is advised. Others have not experienced the same things we have. People and places change, and may not be how we remember them. Keeping this in mind, it may be better to reminisce from a distance, allowing our memories of past experiences to be a sufficient smorgasbord for the nourishment needed.

It's okay to buy a card or a gift, for it will surely some spirit uplift, it calms the heart and clears the head when we see others know of our terrible dread.

Gifts, whether given or received, are a way for us to share and feel love at a time when we feel the most unloved. We can also choose a cause to champion.
Gifts, whether given or received, are a way for us to share and feel love at a time when we feel the most unloved. We can also choose a cause to champion. | Source

Find someone to help

As we begin to find resolution to our grief, there are naturally feelings of emptiness. We miss the life we have left behind, and are not sure what lies in the future. This time of transition is also one of introspection. Grief, by nature, is focused inward: on our pain, our loss, and our feelings of loneliness.

The best way to counteract these feelings is to find someone to help. There is much pain and heartache in this world, and all we need do is look around us. Every family, neighborhood, and community has causes to champion, people who need a friend, and something that we can do.

Some people use their grief as an opportunity to teach better living skills with their own lives as an example. Others work to enact legislation, bringing attention to laws that were not working in their favor during their own tragedy. No matter what we do, our efforts will bring meaning and purpose into our lives, and perhaps the lives of others.

Ultimately, our objective is to make the world a better place. The sooner we use our difficulty to make something positive in the world, the sooner we will find peace and happiness in our own humanity. Life is precious and we have been spared for a reason. We can take our second chance at life seriously, and make something of it, or dwell on our loss and remain in misery.

Our efforts will not always be met with a positive result, and that does not matter. We know how others feel when they are in pain, and anything we do to help alleviate that pain is a step in a positive direction. Whether it is a simple card, a phone call, or a visit, we make a difference to others, and as a result, to ourselves.

It's okay to cry the tears of joy with every man, woman, girl and boy, that come of peace and hope and love, the comfort and solace that come from above when we have established a common bond that gives us courage and faith beyond that which normally is the fair before the tragedy brought it to bear.

Although loss has changed our world forever, our heart can mend. Life will never be the same, and that is okay. Who knows, it may even be better!
Although loss has changed our world forever, our heart can mend. Life will never be the same, and that is okay. Who knows, it may even be better! | Source

How is your grief surf-board ride?

  • What surfboard? I'm drowning!
  • I can't seem to get on mine!
  • Every time I try to stand, I fall down!
  • This is amazing! I'm going to make it!
See results without voting

Grieving is the process of changing, of moving from life with to life without, and yet, in the process, somehow, we no longer see ourselves from the point of view of our loss, but rather, by what we have gained. The compassion, mercy, grace, and love that fill our hearts as a result of what we experienced can be obtained in no other way.

Just like a forest is renewed only through the process of being blackened and charred, our lives can only have meaning and purpose when we have experienced difficulty and pain. It makes us appreciate the good times, and the seedlings that were lying dormant in our souls can then be released for us to realize our full potential.

Grief is a refining process whereby we have the opportunity to look at who we have been, and make decisions of who we want to be in the future. As we do so, we are allowing grief to do its work, for our emotional health!

*Poem "It's Okay to Cry" by Denise W. Anderson.

© 2014 by Denise W. Anderson. All rights reserved. This hub is an Emotional Survival Resource. For more on Emotional Survival, see www.denisewa.com.


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Comments 30 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Such an important message Denise, and I love the surf board concept. It took me a long time to learn how to deal with grief, but now that I do know, life is so much easier. Thank you!


brutishspoon profile image

brutishspoon 2 years ago from Darlington, England

When you loose someone close it is always hard and everyone experiences grief on a different way. For most people the worst part of it should be over in around three months but that does not mean you will not have episodes of depression at a later time. A good way to help yourself is to talk about your feelings. I worked for a Bereavement Charity about 13 years ago and what I learned while I was there helped me four years later when I lost my Dad.


Purpose Embraced profile image

Purpose Embraced 2 years ago from Jamaica

Denise, you discussed some important factors in the grieving process. I like your advice that people who are grieving should not to try to do it alone. A caring and supportive network makes such a difference.


tameka carodine profile image

tameka carodine 2 years ago from Tunica ms.

You are right grief is process I have to lose loved ones and friends it is so hard to say goodbye to those you loved and lose .Grief take time and when have supportive people they can see you through it .


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

A beautiful hub indeed concerning grief sometimes one can go down in a bad way if they don't treat themselves well. Your suggestions sound most helpful.


Kate Mc Bride profile image

Kate Mc Bride 2 years ago from Donegal Ireland

Thanks Denise for a practical matter of fact hub on a topic we can all relate to.It is worth adding that grief is only a stage and some great advice here on how to work through it. Voted up and useful. Kate


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, Bill. It has taken me a long time, as well. Each time, I learn something more from the experience.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

You are right, Brutish, we all grieve in our own way. What works for some may not for others. Talking about your feelings is always helpful. Your work for the charity is a great example of finding someone to help. As we do these types of things, there are personal benefits that come back to us sooner or later.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Grief is such a strong emotion, Purpose, that it is best to be around others, especially initially. Our lives are so interconnected with each other, that having someone with us helps us to process the difficulty we are experiencing. Thanks for reading and commenting.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

It is hard, tameka, when we must say goodbye to those we have lived with all our lives. We need help from others to work through these difficult feelings. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

It is necessary, DDE, for us to take care of ourselves when we are grieving or we will become physically ill. I have learned this from my own sad experience! This time around, I was more careful, and have been able to find ways to feel peace in the midst of the difficulty. I hope the suggestions I have given are helpful to others as well.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks for bringing that up, Kate. It is a stage that we go through as we adjust to a new life. There comes a time when we no longer see ourselves as one having gone through loss. We are able to move on and find peace and enjoyment once again. I appreciate you stopping by.


catgypsy profile image

catgypsy 2 years ago from the South

A wonderful, helpful hub on the subject. Grief has so much more involved in it than people realize and it's important to know that. It's also important to not judge how long it's ok to grieve...the time frame for everyone is different. People tend to make someone feel they should be "over it by now" (if it's been over a few months) and that is so wrong to do. Grief can take a long time to get over and that's ok.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks for bringing up that concept, catgypsy, that we have to be careful not to judge. Everyone grieves in their own time and way. Expecting someone to "move on" is not being understanding. When we allow them to talk about it, we are giving them the room they need to resolve when they are ready. I appreciate your comments.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

Thank you, Denise. Your message of embracing and growing in our grief is very practical. Not only does this article help the reader; it helps the reader to help others who grieve. Voted Up!


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

Excellent hub with an important message!

It is quite natural to be emotionally upset after a grave tragedy or loss of a dear one. It is the most obvious human reaction. But then in life, one has to move on. Some recover from it sooner and easily, while for others this may take months or even years.

I think family support and support of close friends is very important in this regard. Those who are surrounded by caring persons, may come out faster from their grief. Someone must be there to divert attention, to make them busy in 'Life' again.

Thanks for sharing this engaging hub! Voted up!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, MsDora. I was hoping that would be the case. Grieving affects us in profound ways. As we grow in our understanding of pain and suffering, we are in a much better position to help others through their difficulties. When those we love are grieving, there is much we can do. Our unconditional love and encouragement will help them to see that they are not alone.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Yes, ChitrangadaSharan, the support of family and friends is vital to someone who is grieving. It helps for them to have a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, and a reminder to take care of themselves. It is easy to let life pass us by when we are grieving. When supporting, caring loved ones around us, we are much more likely to come through it sooner, and with less scars and emotional baggage. I appreciate your comments!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

Grief is like riding the waves with a surfboard. You expect to fall but getting back up is important. Lots of useful and wise advice in your post.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, teaches. I remember being at the beach one time with our family. Our youngest, just a toddler, was in a floating seat. As the waves increased, she was pulled further and further away from the beach, each wave covering her with water and leaving her breathless. When I rescued her from that situation, I realized that water is something to be respected, and I needed to learn a lesson. Grief is like the ocean. It can swallow us whole if we don't keep getting back on that surfboard!


Sam Edge profile image

Sam Edge 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Wow this is a really thoughtful and practical hub on grief. The older I get the more I realize the importance of managing these tricky emotions. When I was younger my strategy was to run faster and hit harder - but that get exhausting. Eventually we have to be still and let it run it's course - go with the current rather than against it. Thanks for this.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

I appreciate you stopping by, Sam. I wrote this in the middle of grieving for my mother-in-law. It was a difficult time for our family. We spent a lot of time at her home and she was an important part of our lives. It took writing about grief to understand what I needed to do to navigate the rough seas for myself, and to help my family members. I'm glad that you found it helpful.


Jill Freeman profile image

Jill Freeman 2 years ago from Pennsylvania

Denise this Hub is a great reminder not only to those who are in the midst of grief, but also to those who are close to someone who is walking through grief. It is so important to experience the feelings - like waves washing over us. Equally important, is learning to move forward. This Hub covered ways to that beautifully. Thanks for this!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Yes, Jill, when we have loved ones and friends that are grieving, we have to be very careful not to deny them the very emotions that will bring about the healing of their spirits. Grief is indeed work. It takes us to places we have never been and we experience a wide range of thoughts and feelings. It is critical that we allow ourselves to experience these heights and depths in order to resolve our loss and move forward into the future. Thanks for your insightful comments!


Moral Man 20 months ago

I lost both parents. My father died in August 2011 after a long history of health problems, such as dengue fever from a mosquitoe bite, kidney stone, heart attacks, anginas, toothache, hernia, stroke, and heart failure.

I lost my beloved mother in February 2015 from a stroke. She had another stroke six years ago and had a history of migraine headache since 1986 or 1987. Thats 28 or 29 years of immense suffering. Nature is cruel beyond imagining. Nature has an infinite number of scourges to torture and kill man and beast alike. My mother was kindhearted, caring, loving. The sadness I feel is beyond words. Im angry at God for allowing good people to suffer and die.

The void, privation, and deprivation in my life is painful. Im all alone in the house. Im a lonely, depressed, mentally ill, mentally tormented, mentally disabled man. My mother was the most important person in my life who I love more than anyone else. She was more than just a mother. She was my friend, companion, and support. Ive been crying for a month. Theres a horrible sunken feeling in my heart.

My life is endless mental torment. The world is filled with suffering, death, and evil. The world is a horror movie ruled by the Devil and not by a loving God.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 20 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Moral Man, your story is tragic. You have every right to be angry. Your loss is so comprehensive that it has taken away your desire for life, hope and peace. This is a natural result of the injustice you have experienced. Grief is work, there is no doubt about it. Comprehensive loss is painful and debilitating. With the mental health difficulties you are experiencing, professional assistance will be needed for healing to take place.


Allpeaks profile image

Allpeaks 14 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

"When these emotions well up inside us, rather than fighting against them, we can acknowledge the rising waves, climb on our surfboard, and go for a ride! Doing so allows grief to do its work, and us to have a more scenic point of view." That's great point most people fail to consider.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 14 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, Allpeaks. Most people think of grief as a negative experience. It has a purpose, however, and when we realize that what it is doing is giving us a different point of view of our lives, the world, and even God, then we are able to accept what is happening. We are lead to examine our lives closely and cleanse ourselves of the impurities we have allowed to accumulate. We prepare ourselves to meet God, should the time arise for us to do so. Then, and only then, has grief done its work.


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 13 months ago from Saginaw, Michigan

Well done, Denise. I am probably the biggest cry baby you would ever meet and I do not try to hide it. I am filled with emotions in times crisis as you mention here and know that I am better for the experience.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 13 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

I think we all respond to crises differently. Some people cry quietly, others fall apart with hysterics, and then there are those that are stoic to the point that we don't think that they feel anything at all. I have seen all kinds. The important thing to understand is that we all grieve in our own way and in our own time, and we cannot judge another when their way is different from ours. I appreciate your comments.

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    denise.w.anderson profile image

    Denise W Anderson (denise.w.anderson)519 Followers
    130 Articles

    Denise has experienced the death of loved ones in her immediate and extended family, and that has lead her to seek information about grief.



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