Bereavement, like everything else in the universe, is multidimensional. Life exists on many layers from the dense to the subtle. The deeper we look at a leaf for instance, the more we can see the subtle aspects of shape and color. A microscope will show us an entire world inside the leaf. As human beings we experience life on many levels simultaneously. In the mental dimension there are the thoughts we have about our experiences; in the emotional dimension there are the feelings these experiences evoke. On the physical dimension we feel various sensations in different parts of our bodies as we see, hear, taste, smell and touch.
Bereavement is experienced on all of these levels – physical, mental and emotional. And within each of these there are layers of effects from the grieving process.
Physical – Tiredness, heaviness, feeling drained, weak, loss of appetite can cause the immune system to be challenged and you may find yourself catching colds or flu more easily. It is important to pay attention to your body and rest if you feel tired, weak or drained. Even if you don’t feel hungry it is good to have soup, smoothies or something light. This is a time to take nutritional supplements to keep your immune system strong. Be sure to get fresh air and take daily walks outside in nature if possible.
Mental – It is natural to feel scattered and unfocused as well as being flooded with thoughts about what needs to be done, memories and concerns for an uncertain future. This is not a time to make decisions. This is a time to be easy with yourself and let thoughts come and go without acting on anything important for now. You might find yourself being forgetful when you are normally not a forgetful person. Forgive yourself and know that this will pass as you continue to heal. Reading books and articles that inspire you can be very comforting. There are many excellent books on about the process of grieving that are worth reading when you are ready to delve more deeply into understanding the many aspects of grief.
Emotional – Sadness, fear, anger, frustration, tenderness, compassion, regret, anxiety, along with waves of love and gratitude for a life shared. Both positive and negative emotions can be felt all at once and all are normal, healthy and should not be repressed. Repressing or numbing emotions can result in ill health so it is essential to allow yourself to feel deeply and allow whatever is being experienced to just flow through you. It will come and go in varying degrees of intensity. If at first you don’t feel much of anything, that is fine too. Just be gentle with yourself and accept whatever you are experiencing with love and compassion.
All of these dimensions interact and play off of each other at various times. Slow down your routine and give yourself plenty of quiet time so that you can be with the experience as fully as possible without distraction or outside pressure. Notice your thoughts, feelings and what is going on in your body. Breathe deeply, let it just be as it is. You are alive, you are human and the love inside you will never die.