How To Find Meaning When You’re Coping With Bereavement 

“Grief can destroy you –or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn’t allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it’s over and you’re alone, you begin to see that it wasn’t just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can’t get off your knees for a long time, you’re driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life.” 

Dean Koontz, Odd Hours

There is no sugarcoating of the sheer agony of death. It is the one equalizer of the human experience, the one event we will all encounter- time and time again. And yet, although it’s guaranteed, although we know it is bound to happen, grief and loss can still shake our entire world. It can chip away at even the toughest resilience.

The bereavement process is a complex one. It doesn’t come with rules, guidelines, or even time constraints. Emotions will fluctuate, and your outlook on life may evolve as well.

While bereavement is painful, it doesn’t need to be meaningless, and it doesn’t need to strip you of your identity. In fact, many people grow both emotionally and spiritually as a direct result of the process.

Honor Your Feelings

Grief can feel all-encompassing, like a tornado, like a starving dog that won’t quit gnawing at the bone. Brace yourself for the calamity of these intense emotions. You may scream, laugh, and cry- sometimes within the same hour. You may feel completely alone, even if everyone is giving you cards, hugs, and words of sympathy.

All these feelings color your experience. Feelings honor the relationship you had, and they paint a picture of how you live and love in this world. The more you can embrace these emotions- even if they terrify you- the more you can cultivate meaning from this experience.

Remember that you’re a human being, and not a robot. To feel is to be alive. And without sadness and fear and loss, we would never know the beauty of love.

Practice Vulnerability With Others

Isolating during the bereavement process only complicates the pain. Not only are you missing your loved one, but you are also missing out on the invaluable support that others can provide.

Exposing yourself isn’t always easy, and this is undoubtedly true if you’re used to being the “strong one.” Likewise, displaying your emotions may feel uncomfortable, especially if you don’t quite understand them yourself.

That said, this vulnerability can connect people together in powerful ways. You might be surprised at how willing people are in providing you with nurturing and support. You also might discover how helpful it can be just to unleash some of your struggles.

There isn’t a right-or-wrong way to be vulnerable. It’s merely a matter of being honest with your emotions. It’s responding with the truth when people inevitably ask, how are you? 

Foster Spiritual Connection

Research shows that people who endorse spiritual beliefs have healthier and faster grief resolution. A spiritual connection can provide tremendous comfort and relief during a seemingly paralyzing time.

Spirituality may have different definitions, but it essentially means feeling connected with something beyond yourself. That connection can provide you with immense meaning.  That said, you don’t need to join an organized religion to reap the benefits. Spirituality can exist everywhere- in prayer and meditation, in nature, on the yoga mat.

Reach Out For Professional Bereavement Support

Even if you feel like you are doing everything “right,” bereavement can be complicated and debilitating. It doesn’t always make sense, and you may feel lost on how to take care of yourself. You may wonder if you’ll ever experience true happiness again.

Therapy can provide you with a compass and roadmap for restorative healing. It can provide you with the validation, warmth, and acceptance you need. As a therapist specializing in grief and loss, I am well-versed in providing bereavement support. Contact me today to learn more.

4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 988-3363

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