What Grief Has Taught Me

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Grief has been my best guru. 

After years of searching for my inner truth outside of myself through classes, teachers, and books, I’ve found that life is the best spiritual master. 

One of the hardest parts about life is when we have loss, disappointments, heartbreak, and sadness. We might lose our health, wealth, dreams, pets, friends, and those we love. 

Things don’t turn out the way that we expected or desired. 

Grief hurts our hearts. 

We aren’t sure if we’re strong enough to handle more of the hard feelings. 

Being human isn’t for the faint of heart. 

Yet, somehow, we’re still around as the human race, even with all of our difficult emotional stuff, our imperfections, and inability to love each other unconditionally. 

Life is this way. We can’t avoid change, challenges, or loss at times…even if we are positive, kind, and loving. 

The only thing in our control or domain is how we respond to those things that cause us to suffer on our human path. 

We can choose to close our hearts. We can choose to mistreat others or be angry towards them, even towards life itself. We can choose to hate ourselves. We can bottle everything up inside or try to numb out through various addictions or distractions. We might make ourselves sick by not acknowledging or giving our emotions and feelings space and compassion. 

We feel at times that compassion is reserved for others, but we can give it to ourselves. We can ask, “How can I be gentle with myself today?” We can do it in small ways, even in increments. It doesn’t have to be perfect. 

We can choose to be happy, even though things are not perfect or the way we want them. We can choose to be kind, even though some we encounter or who are in our lives aren’t so loving. We can be patient, even if others around us are rushed. We can smile at others and let them cut in traffic in front of us, even though we have no energy and are running late. We can feel content, even though we’ve lost our best friend or a parent. We can do something small like bake cookies for a friend, even though we’re tired. We can hug that person at the funeral, even though they weren’t nice to us in the past. 

It just feels better to be loving. I myself have used my grief to ask, “How can I be more loving?” 

It’s okay to not be perfect. I myself have my moments of not trusting or having my heart open. They aren’t permanent, even though in the moment, it can feel that way. 

However, there’s some things that my guru grief has taught me over the past four decades of my life so far. In no particular order, here’s some of my learnings:

  1. My grief isn’t special. Everyone has experienced loss or grief. No one person’s grief is worse than another’s. Grief is one of the common threads we have as humans. We can remember this and it can help us be kind to others. 
  2. When you focus on yourself and your pain and hide in your shell, you make things worse. You miss chances to love others and enjoy your life. 
  3. Grief comes in waves. Each wave has a different feel, texture, shape, size, and intensity. Just like the ocean waves, there will be ebb and flow. You don’t have to ride any of the waves, but you can let them pass quietly. Maybe you can ride on one and use it to heal yourself through art, singing, poetry, writing, exercise, meditation, yoga, hugs, or just being in nature? 
  4. When grief is overwhelming, it’s a cry from your spirit to rest. 
  5. When you give to others, you will feel better. Give your time and love to others, even strangers. The less you think about yourself, the better you will feel. 
  6. Help others with their grief. Plant the seeds for your own healing, happiness, and health. Send notes or cards to others for no reason, other than to say, “Hi” or “Been thinking about you.” Smile at strangers. You don’t know what kind of battles they are fighting. Be the light.
  7. The darkness will improve. Just as you think it won’t get better, you will notice a sunset or a rainbow. Maybe a little bird lands near you? Maybe you hear your grandma’s favorite song at the store? There’s always light, but we do have to notice it.
  8. If you can’t get out of bed, please get up. Make yourself get up. Do some stretches. Take a few deep breaths. Let yourself feel your body. You’re alive. Drink some green tea or coffee. Drink some water or make yourself a green juice. If you don’t have energy to do so, have someone do it for you or go to a cafe. Sit with others and just let yourself feel like you’re part of something, whether it’s the cafe or the city or nature. Even if you have to exist on this basic level of just surviving for a while, you can keep going. Talk it out with someone you trust. Tell them how you feel. Don’t let yourself be or feel alone.
  9. Honor those who have passed by continuing to live your life. Yes, take time to heal the sadness and feel it and use it. Don’t ignore it. However, you do have things that are part of your mission that need to be done. Please take small steps each day towards living your life. If you don’t feel you have a purpose, create a small one each day for yourself. It might be something like, “I’m going to hold the door open for each person I meet.” Maybe it could be, “I’m going to write kind things all day on social media, texts, and emails.” Those who have died wouldn’t want you to suffer or put your life on hold for too long.
  10. Let your old dreams die. Yes, it’s sad to let them go. Give yourself permission to have new dreams. You’re human, which means you’re evolving. Let yourself fly.

With love,


(copyrighted by Lisa Selow 2015) 

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