Grieving and Mourning

From our colleague, Restoring Resourcefulness Faculty Member Michael Deloughery:

This article is for anyone who has lost someone close to them. This will also be helpful to anyone who knows someone who has experienced a loss. At the bottom of this article I have put links to 2 resources to support you moving through this challenging transition.

In the last couple of years, death and loss have been significant themes for humans worldwide. I don’t know about you, but for me, any training or education about dying, loss and grief was minimal and often based on how best to hide. This year I have come face to face with my own myths and beliefs, particularly about grief. I had the gift of taking courses on grief and mourning with Maria Kliavkoff. What I have learned over the last year about loss and grief is revolutionary. Maria has made this her life work and I want to share with you some of her insights on grief and mourning from her book.  (Her words are in bold)

“A quick note on terminology: The terms “grief” and “mourning” are often used interchangeably, so you may have some confusion regarding the precise meaning of these terms. The definition of these terms is as follows:  Grief is the internal constellation of symptoms: physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual that we experience when we encounter loss. Mourning is the external expression of the internal experience.”

What a freeing definition of those words: I have a loss and I feel so much throughout my whole being. Everything is all mixed up. The experiences in my body, my mind, my spirit and my feelings are all over the place. And this eruption of everything is inside me. The question is “Will I let it out?” How can I give this expression?  And if I express my grief in whatever way feels right for me, what is the result? Katie Hendricks has taught, when we feel sensations and emotions inside ourselves that is life itself. Our options are to either kink our hose or create flow. Katie has spent a lifetime creating ways we express with our whole body and thus generate flow. This choice of expression is called mourning. Otherwise, we bury our grief and that means we carry it in our bodies with whatever consequences come from that. Here is Maria talking about the process of grief to mourning:

Towards the end of my studies, my mother became ill and died. In the following year and half, I had the opportunity to put all of my training to personal use, and what I found was this: the more I was able to consciously convert my grief to mourning, the easier the journey became. It is not that I no longer felt the pain, rather it was that I had learned to trust myself. I learned how to listen to my inner knowing and trust the ways I wanted and needed to express my grief and convert it to mourning.

Here are two resources for you if you are in grief or wanting to be a loving support person for someone in grief:

Maria offers a program for anyone grieving. In her words, “It is designed to create compassionate grief communities by teaching the basics of grief and mourning in a way that touches the heart and mind.  Together we create a safe environment to explore the truths, dispel the myths and discover the sacredness of our grief journey. By the end of the workshop you will begin to hear the next steps on your grief journey, you will find hope for the future and you will know that joy is possible, even as you grieve.”  I have participated in this and found it transformative. Click here to learn more.

Here in the Restoring Resourcefulness section of this website you will find “how to” videos and instructions on practices like Matching, Presencing, Fear Melters and Breathing that can fully support you in this experience of grief and mourning. When grief is active in you, so many reactions can happen and you can feel overwhelmed. That’s when having easy reliable ways to come home to yourself can be essential to your well-being.  I have been exploring my own losses this year (buried and current) and I came to appreciate these practices so much.  You can even request a support call from one of the Restoring Resourcefulness faculty, who have volunteered to help people get started in using these tools. Click here to learn more.