What do I mean by that? Well, this situation we are currently living-this pandemic and having to be quarantined is too big to process, understand, let alone grieve it.
There is so much loss that we’re swimming in right now. We’re in the process of losing. We’re being initiated into something we did not choose. We didn’t choose or even begin to think about living through a pandemic. (Okay Steven King did and perhaps a few other writers, but so many of us did not).
I’ve been in a similar place before. I know this place called grief where in an instant your entire life as you knew it was gone.
It reminds me of losing my beloved’s able body to quadriplegia. I never ever thought about the possibility of living with a partner who was completely disabled.
It took a long time to grok; and even now there are times when it’s still so bizarre that he can’t move.
So, we as humanity are in this time of transition that we didn’t ever imagine we would be living.
And so we need time to take it in, digest it, in order to understand it. This may take many years.
And we must grieve. But we must do it slowly; we must titrate it, otherwise it could incapacitate us. This grief is too big and is simply too much to do all at once.
In my years of learning about how to deal with sudden loss and the aftermath of grief, I learned that it’s best to not set up camp in the pit of despair aka the bottom of grief.
Well, that reminds me…we must trust that there is a bottom. How do we find the bottom of our grief? Some people are afraid to grieve because it feels too big; if they start to grieve, they may not be able to stop because there is so much.
This is where titration comes in to help us. We begin to grieve a little bit here and a little bit there. This helps us find the bottom by not feeling so overwhelmed by it.
Okay, let’s imagine we’re stepping into a cave. Bring your supplies…a flashlight or candle, water, some snacks, a blanket or a hammock. Bring enough to make you comfortable for a few hours. But don’t bring a tent, sleeping bag, a stove and provisions for days. No…you don’t set up camp in the pit of despair. We don’t want to get stuck in the bottom of our grief.
This is what I mean by titration. Let’s sit with our grief at the back or bottom of this cave for a few minutes, a few hours. But don’t wallow there; don’t set up camp.
It’s possible to get stuck there. And when that happens we’re no longer able to take care of ourselves or each other.
And we must take good care of ourselves and each other right now. It’s imperative.
In fact, if all you are doing right now is doing what you have to do to live day by day, then this is great. You’re doing the best you can right now.
In fact, ignore those messages about self-improvement and diving into creation mode. If all you can do is take good enough care of yourself and your family and loved ones. That’s enough.
This is a day by day, sometimes hour by hour experience. It is the process of acute grief where it’s a huge feat just to get through the day.
Another process that goes along with titration is pendulation. The process of pendulation is going back and forth between two extremes. I often describe grief as bittersweet-it’s both bitter and sweet. Although in the beginning of big loss, it’s most often bitter.
But we need to be reminded about the sweet. We must go back and forth because once again, we cannot set up camp in the bitter side.
So, find ways to make your heart smile and ease your pain.
It’s also natural and normal in grief to have moments of happiness and then feel guilty for feeling that way. Allow yourself to feel your happy, it fuels your ability to be in the bitter.
We need both.
So, I’ve been pendulating between feeling the pain of the world right now along with the beauty of some of the changes we are experiencing.
When I do this, I sometimes I allow my heart to crack open and I let a bit of my grief flow out. I cry, or feel my confusion, bewilderment, and my pain.
And then I come back to my breath and feel where I am in time and space. I use proprioceptive touch, which means I put pressure on my head or my thighs or squeeze my shoulders and give myself a hug. It helps me to feel more grounded and present.
If I can’t shake the grief off, then I move-go for a walk, shake it out, or most often what helps me is to make deep low grunting noises.
If you’re stuck in camp bitter/camp grief, reach out for help-I’m available for any kind of grief coaching sessions right now. So please be in touch.
Another thing that helps me titrate my grief is doing grief ritual. I’ve been offering Facebook live rituals for the past 3 Saturdays and I will continue to do so until I decide not to. Please go to my Beth Erlander aka the Grief Freak FB page to watch the replays and to catch the live versions.
I’m hoping to offer a more dropped in Zoom version on April 25th. Sign up here.
I’d be honored to have you join us.
We can’t do this alone. We must begin to grieve this together.
Okay, all for now and as always, grieve well, be well.
These are intense times, we need to have more compassion and kindness to ourselves, each other, and the planet. I hope you are well. And remember to grieve well, so we can be well.