What is Intentional Grieving?
There is no correct way to deal with loss. Loss is also not only about death. In reality, loss is about change and presents itself to us in unique ways. Loss is about losing the experiences you’ve once had, people you once loved, places you’ve once lived, and feelings you’ve once embodied. Losing things so precious to us can inflict sadness into our lives, whether we know it or not. It’s natural to feel sorrow after any loss.
It is also natural to grieve for that loss, encouraged even. People experience grief in different ways, sometimes short, sometimes life-long. Just like there is no correct way to deal with loss, there is no correct way to deal with grief. At times, we need to give ourselves permission to feel and embrace our sorrow. This is called intentional grieving.
What is Intentional Grieving?
Intentional grieving is just like it sounds; it’s a moment we give ourselves to purposefully feel our sadness and our loss and embrace what has been taken from us. Unlike raw grieving, intentional grieving gives us a chance to listen to our hearts instead of reacting mindlessly to our emotions. Grief is a process with a timeline that is unique to each of us, so giving yourself time to feel your emotions will give your mind and heart time to adapt.
How to Intentionally Grieve
To connect with yourself, you must listen to what your mind and body tell you. Grieving is just as much about listening to yourself as it is mourning the loss you have endured. Listen to your emotions and try to understand them. How do you feel? What are these emotions communicating? If you are sad, try to understand the reason for that emotion. Identifying your feelings is a great way to justify yourself and the messages they are trying to tell you.
Additionally, listen to your body and its reactions. Reactions are scarcely random and happen out of emotion more than instinct. What are your impulses telling you? Why is your body reacting in this manner? Check in with yourself to understand what these biased reactions mean. For example, if you feel the need to cry, identify the reason. Do you need space? Do you want comfort? Listening to your body and its reactions is a step in the right direction to intentionally grieving.
Sitting in Our Grief
It’s common for people to sometimes run away from their grief. To constantly try and fill that void with activities, work, friends, and things that will distract them from the inevitable. Perhaps the best way to intentionally grieve is to sit in it and embrace it. Over time, the pain of our loss will keep nagging at us until we have no choice but to face it head-on. The only way to move on from your pain is to move forward from it, not away from it.
Suppressing our grief, pain, and sadness will do more harm than good. Sadness and grief are experiences of living. Knowing how to read your emotions, validate them, and react the best way is a part of intentionally grieving. When you give yourself the time and space to intentionally grieve, you will no longer be running away from that loss, but embracing the emotion to be able to move forward.
Source: Integrated Well Being Institute (2018) Intentional Grieving Works, https://integratedwellbeinginstitute.com/intentional-grieving-works/
Source: Intentions Therapy (2021) Grief is an Intentional Process, https://www.intentionstherapy.com/post/grief-as-an-intentional-process
Source: Alan Wolfet (2014) Embracing the Sadness of Grief, https://www.taps.org/articles/20-4/sadnessofgrief