Are quiet and solitude friends or enemies during grief? Sometimes we don’t recognize the things that help versus those that hurt us. And at times, things that are the most natural (and seem best) work against our healing. As in most circumstances, too much of a good thing can be bad.
Misunderstandings about grief are widespread. Most of us know very little, if anything, about grief before it hits us squarely. We are not a culture that talks freely about grief and loss. In fact, we avoid it whenever possible. We shy away from the idea of mourning a loss. Some are frightened by the picture of mourning or think its purpose is no longer relevant to our lives today. And since this is the age of ‘quick-fixes,’ we back away from anything that doesn’t fit the mold. Grief does not fit the ‘quick-fix’ mold. In fact, most of us would say that our grief journeys took much longer, and were more difficult, than we ever imagined.
Let’s be clear – each person’s grief journey is unique. Each person’s timetable is uniquely theirs, too. However, we can point out some pitfalls and discuss certain elements that are necessary for healing. In somewhat the same way that we cannot connect with God when we are distracted, on the go, in the midst of commotion, and interacting with other people, we cannot get in touch with the deep parts of ourselves then either. To face our grief head-on, we need times of quiet and solitude.
We Can’t Run and Hide
We can’t run and hide from our feelings and work through them at the same time. We must allow ourselves to feel whatever emotions our grief has produced inside of us instead of keeping our emotions tightly bottled up inside. Emotions won’t stay bottled up anyway, and will find their way out in some kind of physical, emotional, or mental reaction – and the result can be negative.
Early on in my grief journey, I couldn’t bear silence. When I came home from work, I had to turn on the television just for the background noise whether I watched a program or not. The silence was deafening. And being by myself was easy – in fact, I was often more comfortable alone than with people. Yet, I couldn’t hide and heal from grief. One of the signals that told me I was healing was when I could come home, and in complete quiet, be comfortable.
We may experience times of anger; certainly, deep pain and sadness; denial; frustration; confusion; isolation; rejection; guilt; loneliness; doubt; emotional chaos; disbelief; and whatever else we may be feeling. I’m not suggesting that you build a house and stay here – but I urge you to allow your feelings to surface and process them so you can release them. Feel the emotions. Writing about whatever comes to the surface helps to release those thoughts and emotions, too, and has been shown to be therapeutic.
Times of Quiet and Solitude
While we have to allow times of quiet and solitude to create an atmosphere where we can begin to work through our grief, too much of a good thing is counterproductive and can be harmful. When we’re grieving, isolation is easy to fall into because it’s often easier and more comfortable to be alone than to be with people. Even though we need to talk about our loss, and it’s important to allow certain people to support us through our grief, sometimes it’s easier to avoid talking. Don’t feel guilty about that.
Being around people when we’re grieving can be draining. Sometimes other people are uncomfortable around us, so we pull back and spend too much time alone. We need both! We do need other people during grief. Grieving is too hard to try and handle completely alone.
At times, we have to push ourselves to do the things we know are best for us, even when we don’t feel like doing them. We can’t stay tightly within our comfort zone all the time. Adjustments are part of the process of grief because loss always brings change. Change is generally not easy and oftentimes is uncomfortable, but adjusting to the changes is part of the grieving process.
Times of quiet and solitude, used productively, will facilitate healing. Quiet and solitude—are they your friends or enemies during grief? Make them your friends.
Times of Escape
You can’t face the full force of grief 24/7. Yes, it’s true that you need to make time to be alone and work through your thoughts and feelings. But you also need to take breaks. Pull back from the pain, refocus, spend time with others, do something enjoyable, and, yes, escape for a while. By doing this, you’ll restore your strength, physically and mentally, for the rest of your journey.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to learn about grief. Everyone will face it. Knowing what to expect will eliminate a great deal of the confusion and bewilderment that normally accompany grief. You’ll be in a much better position to walk your healing journey when you know something about the path you’re taking.
© 2015 Judy Brizendine
Photo credit (Beach Scene): Judy Brizendine
Photo credit (Birds): fotofrenze
Overcoming Grief and Loneliness – Joyce Meyer
Hospice: The Process of Grieving
The Loneliness of Grief – In Good Health—Agnesian Healthcare, Dawn Rehrauer
Relaxation for Dealing with Grief – Inner Health Studio, Coping Skills and Relaxation Resources