Whether your loss is anticipated or completely unexpected, grief will take many shapes and forms. Here, I’m going to share some brief stories of how grief has changed the lives of some of the people I’ve supported.

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Some of these stories may sound familiar. Some may sound completely opposite of your experience. Whether they resonate or not, reading them can help conceptualize your own grief journey, providing insight and perspective for your healing process.

Hopefully, one or more of these stories is common to your experience. If so, it can help to ease loneliness. Loneliness is one of the things that makes grief more painful. …


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There are times in life when you will lose someone so special and important that the pain will feel unbearable. Your world may feel like it ended. You may feel like there’s nothing to look forward to, or even, nothing to live for.

In essence, it may feel like there’s no hope. Additionally, the possibility of having any hope seems too far out of reach. The pain from your grief has ruined all hopes for any joy or happiness in your future.

Unfortunately, losing hope is a common experience. I claim it to be unfortunate because the pain is so severe. However, knowing that the experience is common can be helpful. When you realize you’re not the only one suffering and that somewhere, someone else has a similar story, you understand that you haven’t completely lost your mind. …


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Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

There comes a time when you realize that grief is now a part of your life. You know you’re sad. You know something’s off. You feel lonely. You also feel lots of other things.

You’re grieving but now what? What do you do with all this stuff going on inside of you?

Many people think they have to go through the stages of grief. They think they have to follow a path of first feeling shock or denial, then feeling angry, that they should bargain their feelings, get depressed, and then finally accept their loss.

Expecting yourself to naturally move through the stages of grief can be troublesome and could cause more pain. You may think that you’re grieving wrong if you find yourself skipping a stage. Or you may force yourself into setting unreasonable time limits for important aspects of your grief, limiting you from an authentic mourning experience. …


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Photo by Jay Castor on Unsplash

For many people consumed by grief, feeling joy and happiness may be the last thing you think is possible. But after many days of feeling the immense pain and suffering grief can cause, one begins to feel helpless and hopeless because the rest of the world has moved on. It can be easy to feel lost and lonely- only wishing for a moment of joy, and to feel like you’re not completely full of sadness all the time.

But the joy just doesn’t happen- and forcing it can feel awful, inauthentic, and fraudulent. So what can one do to feel more joy when their grief feels so heavy? My hope is that this article- which shares some ideas for finding joy in grief- are relatable and can be borrowed for your own experiences of authentic joy. If that’s not possible, at least the idea of it hopefully helps you know you’re not alone and that others are struggling to find joy while on the path of their own grief journeys. …


Initially, many of the people I support through their grief journey have a desire to find strength through their grief. They feel so vulnerable and so distraught that they label themselves as “weak” or “a wreck.” They look for tools and techniques to help them maintain stability, groundedness, and have something to believe that they are “good” regardless of how painful their grief feels.

Man on the floor experiencing emotional pain.
Man on the floor experiencing emotional pain.
Photo by KirstenMarie on Unsplash

For some, this approach is a way of avoiding or resisting the painful feelings caused by grief. For some, finding strength is a distraction or a way of denying what their grief feels like. However, if one were to continue to avoid, resist, or distract themselves from the painful feelings associated with grief, they are going to have to keep doing it- over and over again- because grief just doesn’t go away. …


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This is part II of a II part series. If you have not read part I, please read it here first: https://medium.com/@griefrefuge/what-grief-feels-like-to-a-highly-sensitive-person-b6a755ff4b2d

Many people who are highly sensitive need time alone to process the sensations they feel. In consideration of serving highly sensitive people in grief, the alone time is not only needed, it is crucial for working through the hurt and pain.

That may sound like all highly sensitive people need to be alone to process their grief. However, that’s not always true. Remembering that Highly Sensitive People easily get overwhelmed with the sounds, sights, and energies from other people, it’s important to make time to process grief alone. …


When someone close to you dies, grief can work in mysterious and painful ways. It can make you feel sad, angry, or lost. It can make you feel sensitive, vulnerable, timid, or fragile. People change as a result of their grief. Today I want to focus on what grief feels like to a highly sensitive person.

No place for beginners or sensitive hearts
No place for beginners or sensitive hearts
Photo by Nicole Baster on Unsplash

The highly sensitive person is a term brought to mainstream attention by Elaine Aron, Ph.D. Dr. Aron helped to define a highly sensitive person as someone who experiences acute physical, mental, or emotional responses to stimuli. Highly sensitive people can easily become overwhelmed with noisy or crowded places. …


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Photo by Andraz Lazic on Unsplash

The other day, my wife placed her hand on my chest and told me she loved putting her hand there. I asked if she liked touching my grief. She expressed a puzzled look, indicating she was confused by my remark. I then told her about the classic Stephen Levine book I’m currently reading, Healing Into Life and Death, and shared more about what he shares in an early chapter.

Stephen Levine’s book explains that there is a point on the Sternum (which is the breast bone) that is sensitive to the touch. It’s in the middle-lower portion of your sternum. It is stated that if you apply pressure to that area for a while, you will feel tenderness or pain- and that you will continue to feel the sensation long after your pressure is removed. …


I recently attended a Grief Educator training with the Center for Loss & Life Transition. I presented a topic about Guilt in Grief and how to move forward when someone feels a lot of guilt. In this article, my intention is to share information about how to feel less guilt in grief. When I work with people who are grieving, I often hear people speak to feeling a lot of guilt. It’s painful and as I empathize, I connect with them on the level of feeling stuck and unable to move forward.

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If you’re wondering what I mean by move forward, it’s about transitioning from grief (which is the internal experience) to mourning (which is an outward expression of grief). Some of the information I’ll share here is based on a book called Understanding Your Grief, written by Dr. Alan Wolfelt. Alan is the Director of the Center for Loss & Life Transition and his Companioning Philosophy is a foundation for the grief support groups and sessions I provide. …


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Photo by Jeff Isaak on Unsplash

There’s a woman who lives across the street from me. She recently lost her husband to cancer. I used to see them walk down the street together. Her, a tiny figure with long white hair. Him, a shaved head and what looked like a disease of the spine because he slumped forward so greatly.

Now when I see her, she’s all alone. She walks daily and moves swiftly with strength and direction. She usually wears a hat and sunglasses, looking kind of like a celebrity who’s trying to keep their identity hidden.

The other day I watched her walk down the driveway, to where it meets the street, to retrieve her morning paper. It was lunch time. I was sitting in a lawn chair, having my highly predicable ‘pandemic’ lunch. I looked at her with intention and energy, hoping she would look back so I could say hi. …

About

Reid Peterson

Grief Support @ griefrefuge.com

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