How to Turn Grief Into Growth: Here Are 5 Steps to Help Move Forward & Grow After a Loss by Rabbi Simon Jacobson
Americans have been coping with loss and grief for some time now during the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has cut American life expectancy the largest amount in 40 years and made infectious disease the leading cause of death for the first time in a century. Families who have lost loved ones have had to postpone memorial gatherings, leaving many to cope with their losses in isolation.
Grief strips away superficialities of our lives, lays bare our deepest longings and can point us to a higher purpose in life. This can make it a catalyst for positive change, but first we have to get through the pain. Here are some tips for how to turn grief into growth:
- Acknowledge the pain. Real grieving requires several steps. One is not going into denial or escape. As the expression goes, the only way out is through. You have to accept that there's pain involved and not try to minimize it or explain it away. Recognizing that pain and trauma and suffering are beyond us and beyond our minds is a very healthy first step in catharsis in any healing.
- Let your grief pour out of you. As a kettle of boiling water must have a spout to allow steam to escape, so too do we need a release for our grief. Crying allows your grief to pour out of you.
- Don’t beat yourself up over what you could have done differently. Obsession with the past does not help you grow – you just become submerged in the toxins of the loss. Healthy grieving is not about trying to review or change the past, but digging deeper into how to move forward.
- Recognize that love never dies. This means that you are still connected with your loved one in a spiritual way. You're not saying goodbye. You're actually saying, "I will continue."
- Honor the spirit of love between you and your loved one with action. What has your relationship with your loved one inspired you to do differently in your future? As you think about your loved one, say, "Whatever it is that you inspired me to do, whatever you stood for, I will continue."
Continuing the good deeds and the values of the one you've lost has a tremendous healing power. This is a way of channeling the grief into something positive, because at the end of the day, pain and grief is a lot of energy. The problem is that it's negative energy. But energy can be harnessed and turned into something positive.
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