Soul Healing After Loss

by | Jun 26, 2023

Soul Healing After Loss

Grief has many faces. Anger, depression, sorrow, regret, guilt, and fear are just a few of the deep emotions you may feel after a significant loss. As we discussed last month, these challenging and big emotions are okay to feel; you just don’t want to get stuck there.

I have experienced a lot of grief in my life, but the most intense was in July 2016 when we unexpectedly lost our dog, Macca. My husband and I were completely devastated. He was our baby; and losing him was, to us, as painful as losing a human son or daughter.

(A brief aside: I truly see myself as a parent to all my animals, not their “owner” or “keeper.” This stems from my deep regard and respect for all living things; I do not see my pets as items to be purchased and “owned.” I understand this viewpoint may be very different than what some of you believe. But I also have faith that our society as a whole is becoming more accepting of the beliefs of people like myself and is willing to broaden their concept of what a parent is.)

Now, back to the topic of grief.

For weeks I couldn’t go more than an hour without being completely overwhelmed by sadness. It seemed as if anything (and everything) had the potential to set me off, from finding a dog hair on the couch or walking past his food dish to getting into bed at night. After having him in our lives for 12 years, it was physically painful to have him gone.

I knew there were phases to grieving, and that I “should” be moving through them, but I seemed to be fluctuating between depression and guilt. I never felt angry or in denial, though I have finally reached a sort of acceptance. All of this prompted me to spend time with myself exploring my grief.

They say grief is very personal, and they are right. After losing Macca, my grief exploration led me to a deeper understanding of this idea. No two people grieve the same, and, honestly, it is no one else’s business how you grieve. Thankfully, (almost) everyone was showing both my husband and I with unlimited love, compassion, and support; but I know that has not always been the case for others.

I have heard many people comment on the grieving process of others. “Why don’t you just get a new dog?” “He should be over her death by now, that was a year ago.” “It’s only a rabbit.” “Don’t you think she’s been angry about her mother’s death long enough?” These words may have been spoken to, about, or – yikes! – by you at some point in your life.

What is the point of people saying these things? They certainly aren’t comforting to the person grieving. The above phrases and phrases like them do nothing but make the grieving person feel like they should not be feeling what they feel. I know I spend a lot of time telling you to honor your feelings, and I am going to say it again: there is nothing wrong with grieving.

However, there may be a time in your life when you are ready to transition from grieving to healing your soul. You may have spent days, weeks, months, years, or even decades in some phase of grieving. This is okay! When you are ready to move forward, here are some healing practices.

 

  1. Plan special days. Anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, and gotcha days may trigger intense emotions. On these days, it is important to do what feels right for you. That may be taking the day off work and crying on the couch, going to a location your animal or person loved, or getting together with loved ones to honor the animal or person who has passed. I used to take every July 3 off from doing anything. Now I have transitioned to doing something to distract myself instead – baby steps!
  2. Welcome in feelings of common humanity. When we lost Macca, Paul and I felt alone. It seemed everyone else was moving through life with great ease and that we were stagnant in our grief. It was a relief when we found an animal loss support group, because we could freely discuss what we were going through and know that other people were going through it, too. When you feel alone and overwhelmed, remember that every single living being on this planet has or will experience loss at some point. You may want to assign a tangible object like a crystal, piece of jewelry, or rock to carry with you as a reminder that we are never truly alone.
  3. Connect with your loved one. You may do this through a crystal grid or tarot reading, or through prayer or meditation. You might want to write your loved ones letters and leave them in a special place for them to read. Even talking to your loved one – out loud or in your head – is powerful and therapeutic. Choose ways that enhance your connection to your beloved animal or person.
  4. Be gentle with yourself. As I mentioned earlier, it took me almost 7 years to come to some form of acceptance of Macca’s death. Spending time exploring my grief, allowing my feelings to sit within me, and accepting the support of others have all helped me get to where I am today. That said, be gentle with yourself. I often tell clients that life is a river, and grief is a huge boulder that appears in that river at the moment of a traumatic event. Over time, the water of the river of life wears the boulder down so it gets smaller…but it is always there. Life simply flows around it.

We all have unique life and grief experiences. If I can help guide or support you through these phases, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Namaste,

Check out my previous blog on grief here.

Click here to find a list of books on healing.

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