5 Unconventional Ways Through Grief

summer solsticeI didn’t even know there were 5 stages of grief until a few years into my struggle with complicated grief.

Now, 12 years later, I’m glad I didn’t because I don’t think grief is so polite that it acquiesces to being put into categories.

I believe grief to be a raw, amorphous, unique experience for each of us. No one can say “I know how you feel” because they aren’t you.

I wish I could say I know how you feel. I really do. All I can say is I know how I felt, and these are 5 things I wish I had given myself permission to do:


Submit your body, submit your mind, submit your heart, submit your soul.

A piece of you will die here, when you face death. The death of your father, your mother, your spouse, your child, your friend. A piece of you will pass with them.

Let it pass.

You will want to chase after it. You will want to hold on.


Stay where you are. Breathe where you are. Let the darkness embrace you.

It will hurt. Somewhere deep inside, between your heart and your gut, there will be a blood-curdling cry that will rise.


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

Speak it, write it, sing it, dance it, dream it. You’ve got something to say, especially if you didn’t say it before. Say it now.

The world may or may not give you audience.

Speak it anyway. Speak with the voice you still have the truth that won’t let you sleep.

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

4. SIT WITH IT.  The sadness.

Sleep with it, the sorrow.
Walk with it, the heaviness.
Learn it, your heart.

Wear your grief like an overcoat that covers your scarred soul until it is ready to brave again the light of day.

It is not shameful. It is not crazy. It is not wrong. It is not too much.


You will start to heal. One day, miraculously, you will rise.

Allow your body, allow your mind, allow your heart, allow your soul.

Rise to your knees or stand and run, out of the shadow and into the light.

It is your 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 you still have a heart and a soul.

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