What Do We Do With Our Grief? | Reclaiming Zen

What Do We Do With Our Grief?

What Do We Do With Our Grief

I’ve consistently lost people at regular intervals throughout my life. 

At six years old, my older brother died in a car accident. My cousin (his friend) died in a house fire that same year. 

Almost every two years either a grandparent, an aunt or uncle died. 

I lost my Dad in 2009 and my Mom in 2017. My Dad came from a large family and all of his siblings and their spouses have died. 

Behind each death we experience is a wallop of loss and pain. Each death opens a door to experience previous deaths.

Grief wipes you out. I admire people who find a peace with loss or find a spiritual concept that helps long-term. 


I am not one of those people. I question and struggle. 


While I have moments of insight and universal connectivity, I have similar moments of despair and isolation. 


I don’t have any special wisdom about death or grief healing, but I accept the ugliness of wrestling with constant grief. 


I believe the key to a meaningful life is to be honest and accepting of who you are in the moment.


In those honest moments, a release of pain is possible.

I have found a way to keep going. I loved to talk to my aunts and uncles. 


A special memory is asking my aunt what was her secret to such a positive attitude. 


She was in her early 90s, struggled with significant pain, and the last of two remaining siblings and spouses. 


She smiled at me and said, “I just keep going.”


I love her honest and simple advice.


 I think of her when I don’t feel like moving forward. 


Those days when I am spinning my wheels. Or, feel like going back to bed with the pillow over my head (although that can occasionally be therapeutic). 


I make myself move forward, and eventually, the Universe gives me gifts that make me smile.


Why did my family experience so much loss? 


Of course, there is no answer to this tormenting question. 


There is no “why”. My mind still likes to torture me with this question sometimes. 


However, I do my best to act rather than think. 


My walk with loss and grief has had two main positive effects.


1. Grief sensitizes the griever to the pain of others. 


Grief can be turned into actionable love.


One consequence of so much loss is a sensitization to the pain of others. 


Grief has humbled me to understand the heartache of others. 


I use my understanding to sit with others and just be there with the suffering. 


I believe that so much loss early in my life prevented me from judging other people. 


If you have lost someone, remember the actions and words that provided meaning or comfort. Pass it on. 


Remember the hurtful actions and words, let them go, and strive to act differently towards other grievers.


2. Grief can be a catalyst for entering a different world than the day-to-day and in developing a more authentic self.


Once you lose so many people, it is difficult (maybe impossible) to find meaning in making money, being promoted or acquiring material goods. 


People and experiences are precious.


As a child, I was jealous that my friends could take so much for granted and be so carefree. 


Yet, my loss has forced me to dig deep, seeking life meaning and personal spirituality. 


I needed to get up close and personal with the Great Mystery, as I had pressing questions. 


Struggling with the concepts of death and grief so young made me who I am today.


If you are grieving, be gentle with yourself and allow time and space for grief. 


Accept where you are in the process without judgement. 


Spend time seeking your personal, spiritual home. 


What makes you feel more peaceful? Move towards this. 


If we had a choice, we’d rather not know the pain of losing people and pets that we love so much.


 However, we have no choice in the matter. 


Each of us is tasked with finding a way to keep going and to help others.


I use nature to heal and replenish myself. 


I spend a lot of time alone in the woods, because everything seems okay in the woods. 


I gain refreshing calm. 


Life and death are circular in the woods. 


The fallen tree gives rise to wild flowers. 


The fallen bird gives energy to another’s young. 


It helps me love those around me and appreciate the gifts of the moment.


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Amy Funk

Amy Funk

Dr. Amy Funk is a writer, teacher, and presenter with a passion for empowering others on the topics of aging, grief, and nature. She has degrees in psychology, gerontology, and nursing. She writes a quarterly post on authentic aging and meaningful living. Amy says, “I’d love for you to join my free newsletter group!” Join the newsletter group here and learn more at agingwithamy.com.  Amy never sells or shares personal information with others.


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