Let’s face it – the emotions of loss can be completely overwhelming and make it hard to focus at work. One of the things I hear so often from my clients is that they feel like if they allow themselves to feel what they are feeling, they may not rebound or stop crying.

Learning how to skillfully apply actions that bring self-compassion may help! In psychology self-compassion is defined as extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.

A crushing sense of inadequacy or failure when moving through grief compounds the experience and leads to increased lack of focus and clarity. There is no correct way to grieve.

During the illnesses and deaths of 3 of my family members I often suffered with feelings of guilt and failure. I lived out of state and my mind was constantly riddled at work with thoughts of whether I should be taking different actions like taking a leave of absence to help care for my family members.

According to Dr. Kristin Neff there are three components of self-compassion: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.

  1. Self Kindness

The first thing to recognize is that you can’t do grief wrong. Stay away from any stages that prescribe a set of states and emotions to move through. You will have your own set of emotions that come and go in no particular order or hierarchy of experience.

You are unique and individual and so is your journey through grief. It’s also true that there is an oscillation to grief – meaning that there will be days that you are in the sad and bad feelings and then there are days that you are able to experience some joy and laughter.

The key here is to recognize that both of these states are ok. I’ve had many clients tell me that they felt guilty after going out with their friends and having fun.

Be kind to yourself! You do not need to justify having these feelings of joy and happiness or feel guilty about it.  The saying “they would want you to keep living your life” may feel ok momentarily but ultimately YOU must see your journey will include through grief will include valleys and hills and waves of emotion that may come and go.

  1. Common Humanity

This is a season that you are going through. All fellow human beings travel this path.

The fact that all humans travel this path may help expand your compassion. I find during intense times of grief, reaching for a book or listening to another’s experience of their grief journey helps me.

Find a podcast or read some soul stirring words of David Whyte.

If you would like to explore more about my journey you can find it in my book Growing Through Grief – The Alchemy of Healing from Loss here.

  1. Mindfulness

Pay attention to your emotional experience in balanced awareness. Notice if you are being harsh with yourself.

Guilt is a common emotion among grievers and certainly one that I dealt with often. It is rarely the right word but it’s important to notice if it pervades your thoughts .In my course Grief Recovery Method I teach about this concept.

Guilt infers an intent to do harm. When you find yourself feeling guilty ask yourself if you have an intent to do harm. Again it is rarely the case!

Notice what you are feeling and also notice with neutrality if you are judging yourself. Soften into the self-compassion that you are doing the best that you can on this tumultuous journey.

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Michele Mariscal, PhD has 30 years’ experience in the health and wellness field. She is a coach, author, and facilitator in soft skills (personality, communication, resilience).  She is Advanced Grief Recovery Method Specialist as well as a Trainer and Coach with the Institute of HeartMath. Her most recent publication is Growing Through Grief – The Alchemy of Healing from Loss.

You can find Michele at https://www.energym.org/ or email at info@energym.org