When we are drowning in the vast ocean of our grief, with no land in sight, we don’t realize how far we’ve made it, and how much closer to shore we actually are when all we’re focused on is trying to survive one kick and one stroke at a time. After all, no land posts exist out there on the endless deep blue horizon. And when those waves of grief based emotions hits us in the face, and the force drags us backwards, it really feels like we’ve taken one step forward and two steps back. Not so fun.
Yet in the midst of all this short-winded struggle, there might have been some subtle signs that you’ve made some actual progress on your journey back to shore. Signs that you have simply overlooked because you were busy focusing on…well, not drowning.
Here are 4 subtle, but definite indicators that you have had a proper grieving session, that you might have missed:
(Please note the term “proper” refers to an “adequate, good emotional processing,” and not to a certain “standard” or “right” way to grieve.)
1. FEELING LIGHTER
If you have had a proper grieving session, or as I’d like to call a good emotional processing session, you will feel like you have shed a layer of heavy armor. You will physically, emotionally, and mentally feel lighter overall. There’s a general sense of “Ahhhh,” like the feeling that washes over after you’ve released a baggage, or two. It will feel as if you have literally, and figuratively shed a layer of your old Self, like a snake shedding its skin.
After a good cry, and conscious effort of surrendering to the pain in the moment, this certain feeling of lightness typically renews itself in my body, mind, and soul.
This is always a reliable gauge I use on myself: “Did crying about it make me feel lighter, and better? Or do I feel heavier, and more bogged down?”
2. INCREASED FLEXIBILITY
Our body stores trauma and emotional blockages. Once you’ve had a good emotional processing of your grief, you will have cleared some of the blockages trapped in your physical body. As a result, you will experience a sense of increased flexibility. You will be able to move some parts of your body, and your limbs in ways you’ve never thought you could.
Imagine all the knots that have accumulated in your body right before you go in to see a massage therapist. Then picture her working deep into those tissue layers to work on your knots in a dimly lit room filled with relaxing aromas. Once your session is over, you walk out feeling lighter with increased flexibility as if you were walking on clouds.
Since our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies operates interdependently with one another, splurging once or twice, or even getting regular massages may not be a bad idea to help accelerate the emotional processing of your loss.
3. CRYSTAL CLEAR VISION
After a proper grieving session, not only do we feel like we’ve lost several pounds worth of emotional baggage, or armor, but it also manifests in our physiology as well.
We can see with much more clarity – our vision gets clearer, literally. As if a layer of smog has lifed from our vision, just like how you feel that quiet sense of relief each time the windshield wiper clears the glass of rain or snow.
Each time after a proper grieving session, I immediately feel a sense of keener eyesight. I was able to see objects in longer distances with a quality of enhanced sharpness. It was as if I had received a new set of eyes. Everything was clearer, brighter, and more colorful.
4. MENTAL CLARITY
Another good indicator that you have grieved properly is noticing a certain level of increased mental clarity and alertness afterwards. You would feel as if the grey smog that clouded your thinking for weeks, if not months, has gradually dissipated. Without you even noticing! As if you are finally seeing sunlight the day after the storm.
Your thoughts become clearer. You become more alert. You will not only find an enhanced sense of flexibility with your physical body, but also with your mind and your thinking patterns. As a result, you can find new creative solutions to old problems, viewing things from new angles. You’re able to differentiate the toxic, heavy thoughts from the lighter, more loving ones.
You then learn to detach from those thoughts and become an observer of your endless stream of thoughts rather than getting sucked in to them. You will eventually learn to put a leash on that monkey brain of yours and give it commands, instead of letting it pull you around like an untrained dog.
5. FUNCTIONAL BRAIN
Depending on your level of grief and how deep you delved into your emotional processing, you will eventually be able to use your thinking brain again. For daily functional activities, for compartmentalizing, for making better logical decisions, as well as for abstract, creative thinking. You’ll notice a general sense of less chaos, and more order in your brain.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t do all of the above yet. Progress comes slowly, yet naturally. And there is certainly no standard time span to “getting-over” grief. Be patient with yourself, and trust in your own strength, resilience, and courage.
HOW To Have a Proper Grieving Session?
So, how do I even “get” a proper grieving session? You ask. When we hear of the word “session” our mind jumps to talking to a therapist on a couch on some floor of a 35-foot office building. While that’s certainly one of the ways to have a proper grieving session, it’s certainly not your only option.
I’m not discrediting the validity and efficacy of seeing a professional, in fact, I highly recommend that you do. But realize that if, like me, you don’t have the resources to do so at this moment, there are much easier and faster ways to find immediate relief.
The easiest and fastest way is to engage in some self-healing therapy. Here are some tried-and-true methods that have helped me make some serious progress on my self-healing journey:
- CRYING – Find a safe place, lay or sit in a comfortable position, and just breathe. As soon as you feel your emotions come up, you will also feel the urge to suppress it. This urge to suppress your emotions is socially conditioned, so simply ignore it. Continue to focus on the emotions and let it erupt. Let everything flow through your tears. Don’t hold back. Don’t put a timer on it either, take as long as you need.
- JOURNALING – Sit in an undisturbed place and feel your emotions. Feel what comes up. Don’t think, but feel. Too often we try to use our thinking brain to process emotions, which should be felt at the heart level. Journaling helps us make our emotions tangible. Solidifying our feelings into words gives us a clearer reflection of our inner world. Doing so not only helps us identify what exactly we are feeling right this moment, but also enhances the breadth of our emotional intelligence.
- MEDITATION – Admittedly, this one has always been a challenge for me due to my restless nature. But the more I practice meditating, the better my emotional and mental health becomes. Dedicate 30-minutes a day, if that’s too long, break the 30 minutes into 3 separate 10 minute sessions, and just sit there, focusing on your breathing. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold, then breathe out for 4 seconds. You will soon find markedly improved mental clarity and alertness after only 3 days. Plus, meditation has been shown to reduce the size of our amygdala (a region of our brain associated with emotions, fears, and trauma).
These are only a few of the many methods that I rely on to manage my emotional state during my grieving process. I have written about other methods on this article. Depending on where you fall on the introversion/extroversion scale, the most effective way for you to process loss may be vastly different from mine, or anybody else’s. Everybody experiences loss differently.
What are some effective methods that are helping you through this grieving process? And how do you feel after each grieving session?