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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Cantrell

Grief: The Roller-coaster Ride You Never Wanted Tickets For (We'll Bring the Laughter Along)

Grieving a loved one

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Grief is a roller-coaster ride that none of us ever wanted tickets for. It's a journey filled with twists and turns, ups and downs, and unexpected loops that leave us feeling disoriented and out of control. But amidst the chaos, it's important to remember that laughter can be a powerful companion during this tumultuous ride.

I'm struggling with one of those downs this week. We're celebrating the first birthday for my Aunt since her unexpected passing. You're never ready to lose a loved one but, in times when there was no time for any preparation, these little celebrations seem to cut deeper. I started my morning as she would have, a large cup of coffee and a Danielle Steele book. Not my typical morning (oh, the coffee is; that's an all day drink for me) but, usually it's morning to school chaos and my husband and I are getting ready for work. Today I took time to honor her in a little, private way - just she and I.

When grief first crashes into our lives, it can feel like a hurricane ripping through our hearts. We may be overwhelmed by a flood of emotions, ranging from profound sadness to anger, confusion, and even guilt. It's crucial to understand that these emotions are a natural part of the grieving process. Just as a roller-coaster has its highs and lows, grief has its stages.

The Stages of Grief and Their Impact

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages are not linear and can be experienced in any order, or even simultaneously. Denial helps us protect ourselves from the overwhelming reality of loss, while anger allows us to express our frustration and pain. Bargaining often involves seeking a way to reverse the loss, while depression is a natural response to the magnitude of our emotions. Finally, acceptance is the stage where we begin to come to terms with our loss and find a way to move forward.

The impact of these stages can be profound, as we navigate their dark depths. Each stage presents its own challenges and opportunities for growth. It's vital to remember that there is no right or wrong way to experience grief, and it's okay to feel a mix of emotions. Just like a roller-coaster ride, grief can be unpredictable, and it's important to give ourselves permission to feel whatever comes up.

The Importance of Acknowledging and Expressing Emotions

Acknowledging and expressing our emotions is a vital part of the grieving process. Just as a roller-coaster ride can make us scream, cry, or laugh, grief can evoke a wide range of emotions. It's essential to create a safe space where we can freely express ourselves without judgment or criticism.

One way to acknowledge and express our emotions is through journaling. Writing down our thoughts and feelings allows us to process them and gain insights into our own healing journey. Another powerful tool is talking to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist. Sharing our experiences with others can provide comfort, validation, and a sense of connection during this challenging time.

Additionally, engaging in creative outlets such as art, music, or dance can be therapeutic. These activities allow us to express our emotions in a non-verbal way, giving us an opportunity to release and process our grief. Just like a roller-coaster ride provides a rush of adrenaline, expressing our emotions can bring a sense of relief and release.

Finding Support During the Grieving Process

Navigating through grief can be overwhelming, and it's important to remember that we don't have to do it alone. Please, don't suffer alone. Seeking support from others can provide comfort, understanding, and guidance as we navigate the twists and turns of our grief journey. Even if you simply allow someone to see your vulnerability by being in the same room or holding you while you grieve, your support system is vital to finding your way through.

Support groups can be a valuable resource, as they offer a space for individuals to share their stories, learn from others, and find solace in the company of those who have experienced similar losses. Online communities and forums can also provide a sense of connection, especially for those who may not have access to in-person support groups.

Professional help from therapists or grief counselors can be instrumental in guiding us past our grief. These professionals are trained to provide the necessary tools and support to help us navigate the complexities of our emotions and find healing. Just as a roller-coaster ride can be scary without a safety harness, seeking support ensures that we have the necessary tools to make the leap out of grief.

Celebrating the Life of a Lost Loved One

While grief may feel like a never-ending descent, it's important to remember that celebrating the life of our lost loved ones can bring moments of joy and remembrance amidst the sorrow. Celebrating their life can be a reminder of the love and happiness they brought into our lives.

One way to celebrate their life is by creating a memory box or scrapbook filled with photographs, mementos, and stories that capture their essence. Taking the time to reflect on their life and the impact they had on us can bring a sense of connection and keep their memory alive.

Organizing a memorial or tribute event can also be a beautiful way to honor our loved ones. Gathering friends and family to share stories, laughter, and tears can create a sense of community and support. Your celebration can be a small, intimate event like my quiet morning with her favorite author, or a loved one filled event but, finding a way to celebrate the life of our loved ones can help us find solace in each other's company.

Incorporating Humor and Laughter into the Grieving Journey

Laughter may seem out of place in the midst of grief, but it can be a powerful tool for healing. Honestly, it's my go-to in almost any event (sometimes to point point of inappropriateness). Laughter can provide a release of tension and bring moments of lightness to our grief journey. Humor can be found in unexpected places, even in the darkest moments of grief. Sharing funny stories or memories of our loved ones can bring a smile to our faces and remind us of the joy they brought into our lives. Embracing laughter doesn't mean we are disregarding our pain; it means we are finding moments of respite and relief amidst the chaos.

Coping Strategies for Navigating the Ups and Downs of Grief

As we navigate the roller-coaster of grief, it's important to have coping strategies in place to help us weather the ups and downs. Roller-coasters rides can be intense and overwhelming, grief can also feel like an emotional whirlwind. Some days you'll feel like you have it under control and others it completely controls you. Having tools to ground ourselves can make the journey more manageable.

Practicing self-care is essential during the grieving process. This can include activities such as exercise, meditation, spending time in nature, or engaging in hobbies that bring us joy. Taking care of our physical and emotional well-being can provide us with the strength and resilience to face the challenges of grief. I've found I'm taking excessive amounts of naps to avoid wake periods and I'm conscious enough to know that's not a healthy way to deal with my pain. Instead I began meditation and yoga. I've mentioned Yogi Bryan on my blog before and he's been a lifesaver in helping me through windows of crushing grief. Love yourself a little bit; give yourself grace. The pain will never go away completely but, you'll find a way out and can find joy in their memories again.

Healing Through Self-Care and Self-Reflection

Self-care goes hand in hand with self-reflection. Just as a roller-coaster ride can make us live out our own fears and strengths, grief presents an opportunity for self-discovery and growth. Taking the time to reflect on our emotions, thoughts, and beliefs can help us gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our healing journey.

As i mentioned earlier, keeping a journal can be a powerful tool for self-reflection. Writing down our thoughts and feelings allows us to gain insights into our own healing process and identify patterns or triggers. It can also serve as a reminder of our strength and resilience. You're stronger than you think, I promise.

Resources and Support for Those Experiencing Grief

Navigating the high's and low's of grief can feel lonely, but there are numerous resources and support available to help us through this challenging journey. Safety measures are in place for roller-coasters, so too these resources provide a safety net of support and guidance.

Grief support organizations and websites offer a wealth of information, articles, and forums where individuals can connect with others who are experiencing similar losses. Local community centers or religious organizations may also offer grief support groups or counseling services. Additionally, therapists and grief counselors can provide professional guidance and support. These professionals are trained to help individuals navigate the complexities of grief and find healing. In the same way a roller-coaster is safer with an experienced operator, seeking professional help ensures that we have the necessary support to ride the waves of grief.

Conclusion: Embracing the Roller-coaster Ride of Grief with Laughter and Love

Grief is a roller-coaster ride, a really....really long one sometimes, that none of us wanted tickets for, but it's a journey we must embark on. We'll do this together though. Grief can be a mix of emotions that leave us feeling off our game, unable to take our next breath and out of control. However, by embracing the power of laughter and love, we can find moments of joy amidst the sorrow and slowly find the light again.

Navigating grief requires acknowledging and expressing our emotions, finding support, celebrating the life of our loved ones, finding humor and laughter in our pain, and practicing self-care and self-reflection. It's important to remember that grief is a unique experience for everyone, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. So however you find yourself grieving, know your experience is important and you are not alone.

Let us hold on tight to the memories of our loved ones, find solace in the support of others, and embrace the healing power of laughter and love. Just as a roller-coaster ride can leave us breathless and exhilarated, the journey of grief can bring us moments of growth, resilience, and ultimately, healing.

Grief Counseling

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