Hey, humans. I am so happy you're tuning in for this episode. Today's episode is about grief, but it's not some really sad episode, it's not going to drag you down, but what it is going to do is meet you right where you're at and serve you up with the most loving, honest truth that I have + that i've found over time. We're going to dive in + I'm going to read you something that I wrote when I was 24, back in 2018. It is still one of my favorite pieces that I have written, it is still so, so relevant + I think that there are so many different types of grief happening right now, some that we realize are happening, some that so many of us don't even notice are happening to us + that we're experiencing. So, I am really, really excited to share this with you. I will dive in a little bit to my experience with grief just so that you kind of can understand where I am coming from. I try to make sure that every episode begins with kind of showing you my heart + why I think that I have space to talk about these things + then we will kind of dive in.
So, when I was 17, my oldest brother was killed in an accident + I'll kind of dive into that full story another episode. It has been since 2011, so it has been 9 years now, but I think that every year there's just a different form, a different type, a different season of grief. I think that what I wrote in 2018 really comes from a place of beginning to understand that. I think I've realized that since then I just have such a huge passion for understanding the different ways that grief can take shape + what it can look like, but I am very excited to share this, kind of, "tip of the iceberg," with you + really just share a little bit of my heart + set the tone for my level of "no bullshit," I guess you can say? I am someone who personally just refuses to live in the comfort of avoidance or ignorance, just to put it bluntly. I would much rather have to dig inside of myself + find the infection that is causing all of the sadness + the source of pain + rip it all out + just let it be messy + just embrace it knowing that I am going to come out healthier + I am going to come out a hell of a lot stronger after learning to dig in + find that source of pain- face it head on + do the work to heal myself.
So, I am going to share with you today's quote. It is by Sylvester McNutt. He is an amazing poet, I highly recommend you find him on Instagram, buy his poetry, I own it, highly recommend, but here is the quote:
"Healing from pain is a choice. You have to consciously decide that you deserve to feel free. That you deserve to let go of the weight that has been holding you down for too long."
I picked that quote for a variety of reasons, but I think the reason that it stuck out to me the most is that Sylvester points out that you have to choose, it is a choice to heal. You have to decide that you have suffered for long enough + that you have wallowed in pain for long enough, whatever kind it is, whatever resistance it is, that you have sat there long enough without direction + with nothing but pain. Healing + focusing on your grief is not equivalent to your moving pain, they're not synonymous: one doesn't mean the other, but what healing + facing your grief head on do mean is starting down a road to recovery, if you want to call it that, starting down a road to honesty, transparency with yourself, + in my opinion, the road to the gift that this grief is bringing you.
If I have learned one thing from grief throughout my time with it, it is that the gift from grief, the gift comes from sticking it out, healing yourself + seeking out the message. So, I really hope that you can kind of pull that quote back in as we go through this episode today + be sure to check out the Instagram page for a graphic if it connects with you + that way you can kind of save it + hold onto it, maybe print it for yourself. So, without further ado, here's Good Grief.
I don't really think that this is a topic that people enjoy talking about per-say, but it's kind of one of those topics that once it becomes relevant in your life, there's really no escaping it. So, for us, I have decided to revisit an old blog post that I wrote back in the day + then I am going to expand on it + we can talk more about it.
So, without further ado, grief.
"The one feeling no one wants to feel, but everyone inevitably ends up holding too deeply in their hearts. The one feeling everyone wants to avoid, but no one really understands. The feeling we all run away from as fast as we can, feeling like we can never really escape the grips of it, until one day: we just have. Or maybe some of us feel like we never will. The problem with running as fast as we can, as far away from the thought of grief that we can possibly get, is that it gives grief a home. It leaves it in the dark, shadowy corners of our mind, while we've run to a hopefully brighter, more distracting place, where we can pretend were happier, but you tell me how many times you've successfully run away from something and mastered staying out of its' reach forever. I bet you haven't. I know I haven't. I used to spend a lot of time running. I started out running from civility, anger, judgement, denial, then from pain, peace of mind + acceptance. This sounds funny, doesn't it? Running from the pain + peace of mind at the same time? Get this, it is not logical to expect to escape pain + grief if you're not willing to look it straight in the face + bring it in to the light. Remember when you shoved it into that dark shadowy corner? That's the thing about grief. It demands to felt, to be faced, to be dealt with. Until we, as an individual, can make the conscious decision to face our grief head on + learn new ways to cope + accept the pain, it is going to continue to follow us around + no, I don't mean for the rest of the year, I mean to each new phase of this beautiful life we're still left with. Lucky for us, there are understanding, educated, considerate humans who have made it their mission to help guide broken souls through life + back to the light. These people are therapists, counselors, life coaches, social workers + mentors. There are confidants, yogis (shout out to Adriene Mishler with Yoga with Adriene), or humans we've reeled in to navigate this life with us. In my opinion, the hardest piece of bridging the gap between silently drowning in your grief + finally being light enough to swim in the acceptance of your grief is multi-faceted. Not only do you have to be ready to take responsibility for the feelings your grief is leaving you with, say what?! I'm responsible for these shitting feelings that life has left me with? You also have to gain comfort in the thought of being responsible for that + the thought of being open, honest, raw, angry + really fucking sad about your feelings, while talking with another human. You heard me right, the first step to healthily processing, coping with, + overcoming grief, is to take responsibility for your feelings. This requires a blunt, no B.S. conversation with you, yourself + you. Am I ready to let go of feeling sorry for myself? Can I journal, vent, or talk it out long enough to seek out and uncover the gift I've been left with in the wake of this awful tragedy? This step goes right along with overcoming + taking responsibility for the feelings of some mental illnesses like anxiety. Those things can leave you with all of these feelings that are left so unsure + unknown, but I promise you, we can have that control. I will leave that soapbox for another day. Wait. Did I say talking with another human earlier? Yep. You betcha I did. Tell me the last time you were left with any sort of productive outcome from your sad, worried, anxious thoughts running ramped through your mind as you sat alone in your bedroom. The problem is, when grief is in the driver's seat, there's no rhyme or reason, no purpose being served, just a merry-go-round of thoughts that have taken control of your peace of mind. If you're trying to follow along here as someone who has not experienced this + you're not sure how to envision what I am talking about, imaging your thoughts running through your mind like a dog with the zoomies. Picking up what I'm putting down? Back to the point. In my experience, without another sound, stable human to listen to, process + regurgitate my thoughts back to me, they can very quickly consume me. Talking with someone about your thoughts: A. allows them to have a safe, sound space t0 float around in and be referred back to again, but B. leaves you with real-life feedback about how valid, real + important your thoughts + concerns are + not the lies and skewed perception your anxious mind is giving you feedback with. Yes, your mind is giving you nonsense feedback. Even when you don't realize it. That self-doubt that held you back from speaking up the last time something hurt you, the negative feelings of guilt + shame in your chest that stopped you from reaching out to your friends to hear your reflective thoughts of painful memories? Those are all negative feedback provided to your already wounded soul, by none other than your mind. As complex human beings, we need other sound, stable, caring human beings to hear us out, to hold our hand, to reassure us that our thoughts are valid, that they are important to understanding the pain, that they all deserve to be heard. It's only then that we can quiet the outside noises long enough to learn how our grief is holding us back + have enough clarity to see what gift this pain has brought us or taught us. The truth is, we can't go back + rewind time + we can't return to the person we were before grief fell into our laps, so, the only option for survival is to look up and move forward. In my opinion, pursuing this help, well, really clarity, it is the key step to beginning this tough, but constantly rewarding snowball effect that will lead you to acceptance and peace of mind. You have the ability to fly again. That power resides right inside of you. It is waiting to be unleashed again. If you trust in that, I think you'll feel that your heart is ready to love + feel happiness again + to see the beauty that each day on this floating, spinning rock can bring you. But you won't see it until you're ready. Ready to take responsibility for your feelings, for your sadness + your happiness, your failures + your successes. Ready to ask for support in this journey you're on, after all, this life wasn't left to us to be navigated alone. Find a warm, friendly, caring hand + take hold of it. Find a friend in healing + embrace this new life this pain has given you. Yes, this new life after grief is going to be bumpier + it will have a few more rainy days, as it should, in my opinion, because your feelings are going to be felt, but it doesn't have to be worse, it doesn't have to be uglier, it really doesn't need to be. Set out on a mission to find the good in life, even after pain. Set out to find the good in grief.
Alright, so, thank you 2018 me for writing that. I wanted to kick off Souls Undressed with this episode because, well there's a variety of reasons, I think that whether we want to believe it or not, we all carry around grief with us. I think that we are taught in a variety of different ways from household to household how to process our emotions + how to process the feelings like grief + how to cope with the emotions + actions + behaviors that come out because of grief, as a result of it. I think that this leads us to adulthood full of quiet suffering or loud spinning of our wheels. By that I mean, we are either sitting quietly at home feeling completely alone, thinking that we're the only person who could possibly understand the way we feel, or we are a broken record + we are just spewing our feelings out to everyone and everything in the world, hoping that someone will hear us loud enough to swoop in + save us. The painful truth in both of those things is that each end of the spectrum requires action from us. That requires reflection from us. It requires us to acknowledge that there is parts to be done on our end. There are moves to be made. There's healing that has to be reflected on + acted on. Healing isn't something that we can just say, "hey I want it," + it comes. It takes hard work. Messy, sticky, frustrating work, but I know that each of us are capable of achieving it. Each of us are capable of looking our grief in the face, sitting with it, learning from it, writing down the thoughts that come to our mind + reflecting on what it is telling us. Each time we have feelings or strong emotions or a reaction that doesn't make sense to us at first, we can sit with that + we can learn from it. I think that grief is one of life's greatest teachers. I'm sure I heard that somewhere or I read it on a fortune cookie or something of the sorts, but I really think it is true. I think that quotes exist about seeing people with depth and deep emotion + wondering the kind of pain that they've been through because you can just feel that in someone when they've lived through something life altering + they've been able to sit back + soak in their pain + figure out how to grow from it + how to create beautiful feelings + emotions + experiences from that again.
I think that we can become victim to expectation + expecting things to be quick and easy + getting comfortable, right? Like each of us love the idea of getting comfortable in our lives, but I think that some of us also get comfortable in our grief. We get so used to having something to blame our emotions on + our feelings on that it just becomes part of us. I am here to tell you, that after nearly a decade of navigating grief, that there is such a deep, beautiful, rewarding gift that can come from it. I know that that might fall on deaf ears for some because I know after living it, that grief is a process, it's not just one point that we get to step into to experience and step out of. It is a spectrum of emotions. I think that it is a timeline that never ends. I think it is something that continues to evolve and change shape over time until we are not here to feel the grief, but that's the thing, we can either live out the rest of our days feeling like a victim to our circumstance + wondering, "why us?" + "how can I make this better?" + "how can I escape these feelings?" + "why isn't the person next to me also feeling these things?" Or we can make the choice to make the god damn most out of the rest of our days because there is something that can be learned from these things + there is such a beautiful depth of feeling great + feeling appreciation + observing + appreciating beauty + emotion that can come from this pain.
Pain is pain no matter what. There is no arguing or deciphering that into anything other than pain, but when we sit with the pain + we reflect on it + we accept it into our life as something that is going to create growth + room for expanding + stretching, we really take control back into our own hands. We make the most of this life + the most of these experiences that we are being handed. Some of you know my story + some of you don't. There are some of you listening who's stories that I know + there a lot of you listening who I don't. What I do know, is there is community in experience. There is for sure community in grief. The best part about grief + I know that sounds like an oxymoron because grief doesn't seem great, but the best part about is that it comes in so many different shapes + sizes + that there are so many different stages of it for us to grow + evolve through that finding people who understand what you're going through + what you're experiencing + what you're choosing to grow through is so empowering + it is so uplifting + that is exactly what we have here. It is exactly what this corner of the world is. This is community because you are not alone + I hope that if any part of this resinated with you + any part of it made you stop + think, "hell yes, Tori, I am with you," that you will reflect with me + the rest of us listening.
So, I want you to sit with this, marinate on it, think on it, reflect on the ways that you can grow + on the grief that maybe you have shoved into that dark corner that you aren't dealing with + maybe, hopefully, you'll find a therapist of someone to work through these things with because grief is hard + grief is deep + sadness + that emotion is a lot to handle. Sometimes when we deal with it on our own, we end up feeling like we're out on an island. So, if that's you, this is me reaching my hand out in my little life raft, asking you to come ashore + dive into this stuff with me, with people alongside of you.
If this has resinated with you, I want you to reach out on Souls Undressed Community on Facebook or reach out to me on Instagram at Souls Undressed + let me know how you feel + sit with me in this. If you have any reflections that you want to challenge me with or that you want to add in, feel free to send those my way, too. I want to grow in this with you. Thank you so much for being here. I'm sending my love + you are not alone, friend.
Alright, alright. If there was ever a segment that I imagine that people are waiting for the, "How Can I Help?" segment, I would imagine it is this one. I am hoping that the resources or the responses that I am offering up to you from my own place of experience will add some relief + will be some of the answers that you are looking for, but I also have a feeling that you might end up feeling like you still aren't really sure how to comfort someone who is grieving + before diving into it I think it is important just to acknowledge that that probably is the truth + that's really the point of why I am going to say what I am going to say when it comes down to how you can help. So let's dive in.
The first way that you can help when someone is grieving, whether they perceive the grief or you perceive the grief as heavy, extremely heavy or just slight grief, first and foremost, I think I said this already in the episode, but I want to reiterate: the size of grief is so relative. You can only judge your feelings of grief based on your own experiences. You cannot judge your feelings of grief based off of my experiences + what caused my grief because you have not experienced those things, your brain hasn't experienced that trauma, so regardless of what severity you think your grief is, if your brain is interpreting it as grief, it is grief, I want you to treat it as it is. Call it like it is, take care of yourself like you need to be taken care of.
How can you help? You can be present, but not pushy. I say this because there are times when people who are grieving are not going to be the most forthcoming with information. They are not going to be starting conversations with you all the time. They're likely to go through different spurts of different emotions + talkative + isolating, + talkative + isolating. So, I want you to be present, I want you to stay present for those people, but I want you to remember that they have to reach out on their terms + they have to be present with you when they are ready. So, I want you to be present with them consistently, but I want you to avoid pushing. Being present just means, "hey, I see you. I love you. If you want to go on a walk today, I'm here." Or dropping off a bag of treats, but not letting them know that you're dropping them off so that they don't feel urged to have to entertain or to have to put themselves out in public eye, but they can still know that you see them, you're thinking of them + if it's snacks, they're getting some extra nutrition, too.
You can make it known you're there to listen, but I want you to only do that if you have vault-like trust. Please, please, please, please do not reach out to someone who is grieving + offer to be their ear if you do not have the responsibility in you to keep it to yourself. I think the only thing that can be more traumatizing to someone that is grieving, other than the grief itself, is knowing that someone that they trusted in that time of grief should not have been trusted.
Offer to be physically with someone if they need it, but without talking, if they need it. I cannot tell you the amount of times that I have been grieving that I so desperately wished to not be alone, but had avoided that because I didn't want to have to talk about it. There are times in grief where you don't have words. All you have is a buttload of emotions that you have no idea what to do with. So, if someone you know is going through those things, ask them if they just want you to come over + sit. Maybe you guys turn on a movie, maybe you bring some snacks that you can veg out on, but let them know, "hey, we don't need to talk, I'm here to listen if you wanna talk, but like I'm also here to just not speak, ya know?" be that guy, be that friend, everyone needs that friend.
Just to kind of spin off that a little bit. I encourage you to become the friend that asks when someone is talking to you, "do you need me to listen just to hear you out + be a vault or do you need me to listen to respond with some feedback?" You will be amazed the information you get from that question. I want you guys to think about + this last one kind of goes right along with what I just said of offering to be physically with them, but not speaking, understand that sometimes, all times, when grief is taking place, there is a lot of processing + understanding to happen. From person-to-person that is going to look so different + it is going to require so many different levels of need, but I want you to understand that when people are processing they do that differently, they talk differently, they look differently, they speak differently, they have different needs, they consume things differently, so just allow someone to know that they're seen if they are processing through this.
Reach out if you need some pointers, but like I said, everyone is so different, just encourage you to understand that you cant fix it + that grief most times can't go away until someone has processed it. So, if you need to, go back + listen to this episode. Take some notes, reach out to me on Facebook at The Souls Undressed Podcast Facebook Community or on Instagram at Souls Undressed Podcast. I'm here for you, I have so much love for you + this space is always here. So please reach out if you need it, make sure you leave a review about this episode if it hits home for you. I want to know what about these episodes you are loving + also what about these episodes could use some work. So, never hesitate to let me know. I'll talk to you guys soon, my love is with you.
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