The grief journey isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. Like sprint runners, we will not get through our grief in 1 minute 20 seconds. Several friends have run the Boston Marathon, which takes months of rigorous training and preparation. They need to practice running short intervals, then slowly, they begin increasing the time of their runs and adding various road conditions. They don’t start running up a steep hill at full speed in 30-degree weather. No, it takes time and practice. Learning how to train and run properly doesn’t come overnight. For those who are on this road called grief, there are some things we can begin doing to help ourselves. We can start practicing the 3 C’s of Grief: Choose, Connect, and Communicate.
Choose – we get to choose what is best for us. Often when we have lost a loved one, grief brings a sense of loss of control. We may feel as if we have to accept all that life has thrown at us and with no choice of our own. This is far from the truth. Even when our hearts are heavy and burdened, and we can barely shower, we still possess the dignity of choice. Grief brain is a real thing, and if you find that your brain is muddied and cloudy and you really can’t think clearly, engage the help of a close friend or family member. It’s okay to gain insight from someone who cares about you and has your best interest in mind. You still have the final say and can choose what is best for you as you navigate this journey.
Connect – Grief in and of itself can be very isolating and exacerbate feelings of loneliness. Whether you are a total introvert and usually enjoy your own company, remaining connected with people during this challenging time is crucial to our mind and well-being. As you walk the grief journey, staying connected to those who love you and supporting the place you’re in right now is essential. Although no one can fix your grief, just having another person present, without saying a word, can help immeasurably. We are not meant to do this life alone.
Communicate – Communicating and sharing openly and honestly about your needs and what works best for you right now will help your friends and family know how best to come alongside you. During those moments when we break down and the tears, fears, and anger come communicating with your support system will help you begin to heal.
Although it’s not only natural during the grieving process and relatively normal, one of the worst things we can do is isolate ourselves or wear a mask, acting like everything is fine. We must try our best to communicate and be transparent about our feelings.
Grief is hard. Just because you’re grieving doesn’t mean you’re a burden to those around you. If we don’t communicate how we feel and what we need, our family and friends won’t know what is best for us. We all handle grief differently – in our own time and in our own way.
We are navigating a road that doesn’t have GPS guidance. We must find our way and do what’s best for us. We just don’t have to do it alone.