The other day I wrote a post about talking about grief to the grieving. I forgot one of my most dearly held thoughts about grief, that it is your right to grieve however you want as long as you don’t hurt yourself or others.
Let me explain. If you need to grieve by going and sitting by the lake, looking at the water, thinking about that person, do it. If you need to go to church and pray, do it. If you need to look at photos, or can’t ever look at them again, do it. Do what you need to do.
The flip side? Don’t judge others who grieve differently than you do. As I have said to people, my mom needs to go to the cemetery to Sam’s grave. She goes because it matters to her that his final resting place is beautiful year round. She brings flowers, plants, gourds, and other things to show her love and enhance the beauty of the site.
Me? I don’t go to the cemetery often. I go when something major happens in my life, such as bringing Sam a copy of the bookmark from my first novel, or bringing him garlic and hot peppers at the time of the harvest. I also go when I need help “kicking over the bucket” of grief, meaning when it is welling up in me, and I need help releasing the pressure through a good cry. I go, play one of his favorite songs and cry. Going there makes me cry.
What we have learned about grief is that we each grieve differently. I don’t tell my mom that she shouldn’t go as often, and she doesn’t tell me to go more often. We respect that we each need different things in our grieving.
So if you are grieving, grieve how you need to grieve. Don’t let others tell you the “right” way to do it, and do what your soul and heart need. Take care of yourself, be gentle with yourself and others, and do what works for you.