December 12, 2014

How to Survive the Mourning After.

grieving couple

When life tossed me a curveball in my mid-20s through the unexpected death of my husband, I didn’t know it would take me eight years to recover.

While my experience is what’s termed complicated grief, many of us struggle with regular grief quietly, behind closed doors, feeling like our grief is something we need to hide from the world.

Grief is not a disease, but our western society can make us feel like we have one. The stigma attached to grief is strong and the current culture of chasing happiness can make a grieving person feel ostracized and alone.

Grief is a raw, amorphous, unique experience for each of us that cracks us wide open, exposes our heart and soul and tests the limits of our sanity. There is no way around it but there is a way through it.

Stay Here

Choose to stay here, in the womb of darkness and loss. Let the darkness embrace every ounce of our being. Breathe deep breaths that create the bridge we will cross from this moment to the next.

Here in this sacred space we sit with our sadness, sleep with our sorrow, walk with our heaviness. We learn our heart like never before. We stay with our process like we would a good friend, creating and holding space for our self, our heart and our soul to mourn in.

Somewhere deep inside between our heart and our gut there will be a blood-curdling cry that will rise.

Let It Out

Weep in airplanes, in grocery stores, in church or on the kitchen floor. Weep for hours or for years. Whenever it rises, let it out.

Speak it, write it, sing it, dance it, dream it. We’ve got something to say, especially if we didn’t say it before. Say it now. The world may or may not give us audience. Speak it anyway. Speak with the voice we still have the truth that won’t let us sleep.

This is not a time for whispering. Whispering is for secrets. Death is not a secret.


When the ocean of life pulls us under our first reaction is often to fight what is happening to us. This changes pain into suffering because “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” The act of surrendering doesn’t change what is happening, but it shifts our experience of it.

Submitting our body, mind, heart and soul to the great wave of life that just came crashing down on us takes great courage. A piece of us will die here, when we face the death of our loved one. Like a patch of forest that’s been burned down, it will grow and thrive again but it will never be the same.

Allow for Healing

One day we start to heal. Just like a scab forms to protect a healing wound, wear grief like an overcoat that covers, nurtures and protects our healing soul until it is ready to meet the world again.

Like a waxing new moon begins to light up the night sky, healing cannot be forced or rushed.
We slowly allow our mind to reinhabit our body and our heart to reinhabit our soul. It is our gift to move, to mourn, to speak, to breathe, to run, to love, to be, to live.

Live fully. Love fully. Laugh fully. Lose fully. Do everything with heart and soul while we still have a heart and a soul.

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Author: Monique Minahan

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Daniel Zedda/Flickr

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