How to Process Grief and Loss

By Anna Kuyumcuoglu | grief
Posted: March 6, 2024

In therapy grief is much better processed when we work with the limbic system to access the feelings. Rather then using a web of words, where its unable to heal as deeply as it can.  

Children also need to learn how to process loss:

Signs that additional support may be needed for children

.concerns about feeling responsible 

  • Chronic physical symptoms  
  • denial of death
  • school challenges
  • Avoiding talking about anything that’s related 
  • sleep issues 
  • behavioral changes  
  • Risk-taking 
  • depression 
  • Anxiety/panic attacks
  • Self-harming/suicidal thoughts or behaviours
  • eating disturbances 

See link here below quote:

When children are not given accurate information, they will create information to complete the story.

M. Riely, 2003


“Coming home to grief is sacred work, a powerful practice that confirms what the indigenous soul knows and what spiritual traditions teach: we are connected to one another. Our fates are bound together in a mysterious but recognizable way. Grief registers the many ways this depth of kinship is assaulted daily. Grief work becomes a core element in our ability to sustain and maintain the well-being of our communities. It is a central means whereby our compassion is quickened and our mutual suffering acknowledged. It is also a form of soul protest, our wholehearted response to acts of violence and oppression. 

Grief is the work of mature men and women. It is our responsibility to be available to this emotion and offer it back to our struggling world. The gift of grief is the affirmation of life and of our intimacy with the world. It is risky to stay open and vulnerable in a culture increasingly dedicated to death, but without our willingness to stand witness through the power of our grief, we will not be able to stem the hemorrhaging of our communities, the senseless destruction of ecologies, or the tyranny of monotonous existence. Each of these elements of modern life pushes us closer to the wasteland, a place where malls and cyberspace become our daily bread and where our sensual lives are diminished. Grief stirs the heart. It is indeed the song of a soul alive.

Grief is, as I have said, a powerful form of soul activism. If we refuse or neglect the responsibility for drinking the tears of the world, her losses cease to be registered by the ones meant to be the receptors of that information. It is our job to feel these losses and to mourn them. It is our job to openly grieve for the disappearance of wetlands, the destruction of forests, the shrinking whale populations, the erosion of soil, and on and on. We know the litany of loss, but we have collectively neglected our emotional response to this emptying of our world. We need to see and participate in grief rituals in every part of this country. 

The work of grieving for the world translates into a fierce and undying devotion to the world. I hear regularly about indigenous tribes fighting to protect their lands from incursions and violations by corporate interests. Their activism reflects an intimate and pervasive bond between self and place that leads to an identification with the land. The Awá in Brazil, the Kichwa in the Amazonian region of Ecuador, the Kalash people in northern Pakistan, and many others are in an intense fight to maintain their ways of living. It is imperative that we, too, find our courage to protect what is being threatened. We must participate in the repair of the world.

Every one of us must do this. We must learn how to work with the grief in our lives. Begin with a friend or two and speak honestly to the heartaches you each carry. These may be very personal sorrows, or they may extend to the daily losses that we witness in the news. If you feel comfortable doing so, begin with a moment where you and your friends together focus your intention on your purpose. Otherwise, simply gather the courage to speak from your heart, and let the others know that you are feeling sad and carrying grief in your body. What I have discovered in grief rituals over many years is that we feel relief when we finally are able to acknowledge our pain with one another. We can also share our grief with a tree or a riverbank, in writing or in clay. We can dance our grief or express it through music. The main thing is to welcome it and grant it a place in our lives. When we do, we become larger, and we can sense our intimate bond with all creation.

Sometimes, however, our grief is kept in a secret cave, untouched and untended, till someone invites us to reveal it to him or her. These are vulnerable moments, times of excruciating revelation. Exposing our grief can feel as if we are ripping layers of scar tissue from old wounds, long ago sealed away from others and even from our own awareness.

There is a Swedish fairy tale called “The Lynd Wurm,” which speaks of the impossibility of hiding something essential to our lives. A king and queen are longing to have a child but are having difficulty conceiving. Then, through the help of an old, wise woman, the queen becomes pregnant. Unfortunately, the queen does not follow the old woman’s magical directions precisely, and the first child born is a hideous snake-like creature. This child is tossed out the window into the woods by the midwife. No one knows of his existence. A few moments later the queen gives birth to his twin brother, a beautiful son.

Some years later, the young handsome prince has decided it is time for him to wed. He sets out to find his bride but encounters this snake-like creature blocking his passage. As fairy tales often point out, what was thrown away returns and demands to be acknowledged. The Lynd Wurm knows of his brother’s intention and tells him, “No bride for thee, till there is a bride for me.” This startles the prince, and he reports it to his parents. They are equally bewildered, since they had no knowledge of the other child’s existence. After two more encounters like this, the midwife confesses the truth about the son she tossed away. With some unease, the king and queen invite the creature into the castle and attempt to arrange a marriage for the elder brother. But every bride they offer him, he devours.

Eventually a young woman comes forward who has been counseled on how to survive her wedding night with the monster. In preparation for the encounter, she is instructed to put on seven white blouses, gather a bucket of lye and three wire brushes. When the moment to consummate the marriage arrives, the Lynd Wurm demands that she take off her clothes. She says to him, “I’ll take off one of my blouses if you take off one of your skins.” He is startled and replies, “No one ever asked me to do that before.” There is a wild, howling commotion as they work through seven layers of skin, only to reveal, under it all, a slimy, quivering man. The woman takes the lye and her wire brushes and scrubs and scrubs his body until he is transformed into a handsome man. Now the real wedding can commence.

“No one ever asked me to do that before.” The phrase alone carries a lamentation, a melancholy worthy of weeping. Many of us have not been invited to speak of our sorrow, to take off a layer of our skin to expose a still more vulnerable self, let alone find someone with the devotion and patience to scrub us and risk experiencing the wild expression of our grief. The first time I heard this story, I could feel the pain I carried for the loneliness of my grief, which I had imprisoned deep within me. There it crouched, longing to be seen and touched by another. As we walk this path of grief, we need others to hold us, see us, and acknowledge the truth of our experience, even when they cannot fully understand what we are feeling. Grief is an intensely interior process that can only be navigated in the presence of community. As one of my mentors said, “This is the solitary journey that we cannot do alone.”

Weller, Francis. The Wild Edge of Sorrow (p.113ff). North Atlantic Books. Kindle-Version. 

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