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Last week, Queen Elizabeth passed away at the age of 96, prompting a global outpouring of condolences and mourning. The death of a public figure can spark a certain sadness in us, due to the public nature of their lives.  It can remind us of our own mortality, loved ones we may have mourned or are currently mourning and the presence of grief in our own lives. Many folks have also experienced complicated emotions tied to the legacy of colonialism that Queen Elizabeth left behind. In this same vein, there can also be grief associated with the public discussion of the violent atrocities. 

The feeling of grief is typically associated with death; however, it really just means feeling the sense of loss in the broadest sense – you can grieve a relationship, body, phase of your life, vision for your future, etc. 

In fact, in eating disorder recovery, some find it helpful to give themselves permission to grieve their former body – the body that may have received praise but was achieved through disordered behaviors. You’re allowed to grieve that body and the life that came with it while ALSO recognizing that life in that body was so small, restricted, unsustainable and harmful to your well-being. 

Sometimes grief can feel like it could swallow us up whole, so we avoid it. Other times it feels so all-consuming, so we sit in it and turn it over constantly in our minds. And occasionally it feels so painful we just try to numb it out however we can. 

Like most hard emotions – the only way through it is through it. And this often requires the delicate balance between allowing and honoring your grief while not giving it the power to define you completely. No one will do this perfectly – so don’t be hard on yourself or think there’s some ‘perfect formula’ out there to end grieving.

Also, often grief thrives in isolation. Though it can feel like the last thing you want to do, reaching out to friends, family and loved ones for support is a sign of strength – a community can provide a soft place to land when it feels like the rug’s been swept out from under you. 

A good start for exploring and honoring your emotions, while taking care of yourself is journaling! The below prompts are intended as an entry point to getting to know your grief – they’re not a prescriptive fix and should be applied with curiosity and kindness:

  1. How and where is grief showing up in your body?
  2. Name what you are grieving and use it in the sentence “I give myself permission to grieve X”
  3. What are you thankful for from that person/place/experience etc.?
  4. What are some compassionate things you can do for yourself while grieving?
  5. What unnecessary pressures or expectations are you putting on yourself in this process? 

Grief is not a constant companion – it can often come as a surprise. And though it may not feel like it when caught in the throes of it, grief will not last forever.

If you’re interested in exploring your grief with a compassionate, trained professional reach out to to book a free consultation with one our therapists. 

By: Maddy Weingast, Assistant for Wildflower Therapy LLC