Simple but Hard Lessons on Healing Through Grief

Thursday, August 15, 2019
You may never have heard of her, but Brene Brown, a professor from the University of Houston, has spent 2 decades studying vulnerability, shame, courage and empathy. These emotions, especially vulnerability and shame, are centerpieces of the grieving process. Many of us struggle with our emotions, as well as societal do's and don'ts while grieving.

Here are a couple lessons she offers that lend support through the grieving process.

1. Forget perfection, work for authenticity.
While there are many opinions about grieving and feelings, Brene Brownís approach is both wise and down to earth. Itís more important to connect heart to heart- itís not really about the words you say. Be present with yourself or the person whoís grieving, and let them know they are not alone. Instead of offering a silver lining, let them know you know what itís like to experience pain, and that you are here for them.

In order to practice effective empathy, itís important for us to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and recall our own moments of pain or grief. This courageous act of vulnerability drives human connection, and allowing yourself to feel resonates on a heart to heart level. Even if you are not feeling the same feelings as the person who is grieving, letting them know and connecting with them while they are grieving provides them with momentous support.

2. Embrace Courage, Especially When it's Hard
In order to be whole, to be healthy, itís essential to learn how to explore unsavory emotions, and learn to deal with them and our "shadow self". Our "shadow self" is the parts of ourselves that we'd rather not look at, and it plays an important part of who we are as people. This concept was written about by psychologist Carl Jung extensively throughout his life.

How does the "shadow self" relate to grief? Grieving is generally seen as a negative emotion, and when we don't allow ourselves to drive or experience negative emotions, it's a denial of our true feelings. Our society places an incredibly high value on positivity, and many people feel shame if they experience a great deal of sadness, or haven't "moved on" quickly enough.

Repressing these emotions only creates more suffering. Allowing yourself or your loved one to grieve, giving yourself or your loved one support to move through grief in a genuine way makes a huge difference. They allow themselves to fully experience their emotions, truly heal and move on with their lives. It also shows how deeply others respect and care for them.

Regardless of how we or our loved ones handle our feelings of grief, being present and supporting one another offers valuable connection during this time.

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