What We Do with Grief

Updated: Mar 31

“We don’t understand grief. It’s one of our core issues, we don’t know how to deal with it. But in any kind of growth, we need to face the concepts that make us most uncomfortable, and that includes asking: What is my relationship to the concept of death? What is my relationship with loss?”

I came into my conversation with facilitator and movement therapist Dalia Fakhr with what I thought were two questions: what do we do when everything around us feels like grief? And how can we recover from a year where we’ve lost so much?

Ties that felt unbreakable have been severed. Communities we took for granted have disintegrated. Our lives look so very different today from what we thought they would be. And lately, so, so many of us have lost loved ones.

In the circles around me, there’s no feeling I see echoing more than a kind of shapeless anxiety, one that’s stemming from very real grief. “I think that a lot of people are feeling this anxiety because the one thing that we’re least comfortable dealing with is coming to the surface,” she says.

That one thing, she says, is a double-sided truth: loss and death. My two questions weren’t two questions at all. Though they may seem two separate experiences—and the emotional weight lands differently depending on what we lose—Dalia says our ability to deal with one is always reflected in the other.

“We have a massive misconception when it comes to grief. It causes us this unbearable anguish, even though it’s a fact of life. We need to face our relationship with it, because it translates to everything: my ability to let go of a job, a relationship, an apartment, old clothes, aspects of myself that are no longer serving me. We’re not taught to let go, to end things, without there being this pain and sense of destruction.”

“But nature is always telling us that everything is a cycle,” she continues, “and endings are only completions. Yes, we should mourn. And there’s beauty and health in mourning. To give ourselves the time, even when we’re just shedding parts of ourselves that are no longer serving us, letting go of our egos or certain behaviour—that’s still a kind of death. So it requires grief. And grief, I believe, is also there for us.”

But this doesn’t just feel like grief. This fear I’m observing around me, I tell Dalia, feels like walking around with my muscles tensed and my fists clenched, knuckles white and soul strained trying to pull everything I love close to my chest. I worry that—if I let go just a little—I will lose everything in the storm.

It’s a defence mechanism—an understandable, if naïve one. “We tell ourselves that if we expect everything that could possibly happen, we’ll be ready when it does. But we learn the hard way that it doesn’t work like that,” she explains gently.

In our darkest days, she says, the best thing we can do is shrink our focus, to just this moment right in front of us, right here. When our brains are going into overdrive, terrified of tomorrow and unwilling to put yesterday down, we need to find ways to remind ourselves that we’re safe, here and now.

Over and over, Dalia reiterates that the greatest gift we can give ourselves when everything seems far, far too heavy to carry is to be right here, right now. One task, one need, one hour at a time.

“And movement!” Dalia exclaims, eyes lighting up at the word. If the gift we’re giving ourselves is being here and now, then our bodies are the ultimate here. And movement—in any way, shape, or form—is how we return to it.

“The body has its own intelligence,” she explains. “It might believe us—it’ll produce adrenaline if we tell it there’s a threat—but it’s often smarter than we are. And when we put it in the driver’s seat, when we let our body take control, it snaps us out of this realm of the mind. If we let it, our bodies can remind us that we’re right here, right now.”

Today, if things start to feel a little too much, try Dalia’s advice:

- Take it one hour at a time.

- Focus on one task, even if it’s just doing your dishes, your laundry, or a piece of work.

- Move. Consider taking a walk or putting on some music and dancing.

- If you don’t feel up to moving your whole body, try putting on soothing music, holding a pen and coloring, with the intention of moving, even just a little bit. Even the small movement of your hand on a page counts.

- Every day, find one source of genuine pleasure that doesn’t require anyone else, and gift it to yourself.

If you feel like you could use some help dealing with your grief or feelings of loss, consider reaching out to one of our practitioners or life coaches.

Learn more about Dalia Fakhr and book a free 15-minute consultation here.

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