On this episode, Ann Allen joined me on the podcast. Ann is a Registered Nurse, Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist, Reiki Master, and owner of Heal Your Grief – Heal Your Life. Ann talks about the meaning of grief and loss. She shares the misconceptions related to the stages of grief and unrealistic timelines to get over grief. Ann provides strategies for individuals to heal their grief in order to move forward and ways to support someone else who may be grieving.
Ann Allen is a Registered Nurse, Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist, Reiki Master, and owner of Heal You Grief – Heal Your Life.
Ann shares that a lot of people think that they know what grief is but reality is that most peoples’ understanding of grief is skewed. Grief is the normal and natural conflicting emotions when we experience a loss of something significant to us. Loss is the end of or change in a familiar behavior or pattern related to a person, place, or thing. There are over 42 different losses that one can experience in a lifetime and by adulthood, most individuals have experienced 9 of those losses.
One of the things that makes it so hard to deal with grief is that we try to make it intellectual. We say so many things like time heals or there are more fish in the sea. Reality is that time does not heal all wounds because many individuals do not allow themselves to feel. Ann works from the head to the heart to help individuals move on from grief.
Grief is all of what is left behind. All of the undelivered communications, the things that we wish had been different, better, more, and all the dreams and expectations that we had for that relationship. All of these things have gone unanswered and this causes us pain.
The best thing to tell someone that they have lost something or someone is sorry. The worse thing many of us experience is seeing someone standing in front of us who is suffering. Many individuals try to take the pain away. Reality is that we cannot take someone’s pain away but we can help them to heal from it. It is not our job to take someone’s pain away, it is our job to actually feel uncomfortable beside them and help them through it.
Ann does not like the word stages when talking about grief. There are no typical stages. Elizabeth Cooper Ross used the stages when giving prognoses to individuals and realized that they were going through a progression of stages. Professionals then took those stages and applied them to grief. However, it does not work because not everyone feels the same thing at the same time, nor do individuals go through them in that order. We can experience all of the stages all in one minute. Using stages can cause some individuals to get stuck.
Grief is inconvenient and takes us out of our comfort zone. It creates many challenges for people. People will do many things to not be present with their pain such as eating, sleeping, shopping, or drinking. When grieving, individuals do not have to be strong and do not have to keep it together. We must allow ourselves to feel. If others are uncomfortable with grief, they can walk away.
Ann shares that sometimes we give shiny names to grief, such as survivor’s guilt. It is all grief. Ann wants individuals to truly understand what we are dealing with- grief hurts like hell and breaks your heart but it is important to feel it, heal from it, and recover from it. When we don’t heal from grief we are only living life at half capacity.
When supporting someone that has experienced loss, it is important to avoid intellectualizing things, do not try to fix it, allow the individual to feel the pain, and listen to them. It is important to make sure your own oxygen mask is on first. If you cannot be there to fully support someone, be honest.
When personally grieving, it is important to understand that there has been a loss, meet yourself where you are, acknowledge that the feelings are normal and natural, be kind to yourself, and let go of expectations of how people will or will not react around you.
In light of the current pandemic and non-touching way of living, there are ways to still connect with one another through a zoom call and hug a pillow. Ann feels it important that individuals know that it is okay to do nothing right now. No one has to be a superhero. Many individuals are struggling just to get through the day; none of us have to be strong for ourselves or our children. Ann encourages us to consider what we want to teach our children about handling grief.
For more information, visit healyourgreifhealyourlife.com.