Types of Loss
There are many different types of grieving that we can experience. In the past year, many of us have had occasion to grieve loss. You may have lost a job or your sense of security in the world, your relationship(s) may have fallen apart, your sense of your community and society may have suffered, and someone close to you may have died.
When we experience a sense of loss, grief is a common emotion. My grandfather recently passed away. I wasn’t close to him and have no regrets about our relationship. My father has started grieving but I didn’t have enough of a relationship with my grandfather to experience his death as a loss in my life. However, his death and some recent illness within the family has infiltrated my subconscious bringing up the loss of my grandmother.
Grieving the Death of My Grandmother
I lived with my grandmother from the age of 6 months to 12 years. She was the person I relied on the most as a child and our love for each other was uncomplicated. I found out she was sick in September and went to visit her in October. Even though I knew her cancer was advanced and that she was deteriorating quickly, I thought I’d have a chance to see her one more time.
Every time I get to this part of the story, I can’t hold back the tears. My aunt was her caretaker and kept me updated on her condition. I left it up to her to let me know when it was time to come home. Every time I said that I would come, she advised me to wait, and I listened.
You could probably guess what the issue is. The call I received was not “Come Home” but rather “Mama died”. Suddenly, I really was out of time. And then my aunts told me that she called my name over and over again before she died. Cue the sobbing. This is what causes me regret, that she was calling for me and I wasn’t there. Maybe my presence could have brought her a little solace in her last hours.
Would I feel differently if I had been on the way home when she died, or if I was at her bedside. There is no way to know. I would like to accept things as they are. I would like to stop wondering what if, but I’m not there yet. So in the meantime, grief rises up and catches me unexpectedly, it wakes me up from sleep lately. So what can I do about it?
RAIN of Acceptance
Tara Brach’s RAIN method is the one I most commonly use these feelings crop up. It helps me be present to the moment and to what I’m feeling and to be kind to myself in that moment. I like the refrain “It’s all right, sweetheart” which Tara shares as a method of nourishing yourself after the RAIN.
- Recognize What’s Going On
- Allow the Experience to be There, Just as It Is
- Investigate with Interest and Care
- Nurture with Self-Compassion
- Nourishment – after the rain
My overwhelming feeling is guilt that I didn’t say goodbye. Psychology Today shares research which shows that feelings of guilt related to a loss results in intensified grief and depression. It’s been 7 years for me and the tears still come when I don’t expect them.
I don’t know how to change this thought process and story that captures me. I hope that over time, with enough nurturing, the feelings will soften and I will reduce my grieving through acceptance.
Season 3 of Changes BIG and small
Next season, the theme of the podcast will be acceptance. This is the concept that has been coming up for me over and over again recently, and from speaking with some of you, I know that I’m not alone on this journey.
If you’d like to appear on the podcast to talk about your own acceptance journey or if this is an area in which you have expertise, please contact me. Feel free to also recommend a guest as well.