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  • Jolene Roehlkepartain

3 Ways to Get through Great Grief

How are you handling the weight of great grief?

Each one of us has experienced many losses during this pandemic. Within one five-day period, I lost one friend to suicide, another to COVID, a friend's 13-year-old grandson died, and I learned of a friend diagnosed with brain cancer who was given 9 months to live.

I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I could barely breathe.

Since this is my second round of getting hit with heavy grief during this pandemic, I’ve discovered a few things:

  1. When you’re hit, stay down—Boxers tell me that when they’ve been hit hard, it’s better to stay down rather than jump back up too quickly. Otherwise, you’re too wounded and weak, and the next blow will take you out. Stay down and rest.

  2. Focus your energy in a positive direction—Some people like to move their energy through exercise. Others, like myself, create. This accompanying blog picture shows how I channeled my grief by creating a watercolor project commemorating those I’ve lost. Since they all felt ripped from me, ripping the paper was an essential part of the creative process.

  3. Take one moment at a time—Instead of one day at a time, focus on only one moment at a time. Be intentional with your breath. Eat something you want, even if it’s chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. Nap. Do what this moment needs.

“Look closely and you will see almost everyone carrying bags of cement on their shoulders,” wrote the poet Edward Hirsch. “That’s why it takes courage to get out of bed in the morning and climb into the day.”

Be mindful and gentle with how you get out of bed and how you climb into your day.

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