Here’s How to Process and Release Grief that You’ve Been Carrying

| | | |

This post shares how to release grief, either past or present. It includes many tips and advice on how to work through this difficult emotion.

Just as a note, you can be grieving anything. Grief doesn’t need to mean that someone passed on. You can grieve a former relationship, you can grieve a life you used to have, you can grieve anything that feels like a loss.

This past summer, my dog of 10 years died. 

In the days leading up, I was really upset, but I thought I would be okay afterward. 

You know, once all the sad parts were over. 

Well, I was wrong. 

After our sweet pup died, I found myself in grief. The last place I wanted to be. 

Carrying Our Grief

You see, I spent so many years in grief after my brother died. I was barely more than a teenager, and I didn’t know how to handle such dense emotion.

So, I just pushed the emotion down and carried it with me. 

For decades.

Not only that, but I took on my family members’ grief too. 

You know when you just don’t know how to help someone, and you feel so bad for them? Did you know you can actually take on their emotions too? 

That’s like if you have a cluttered house, and you go to help someone else with their clutter. Then, you feel bad for all their clutter and take some of it away. And keep it. And then it goes back to your house with all the clutter you already have. I mean, if you aren’t picturing a bad episode of Hoarders…

I kept it and took on more. 

Many years later, I started working through this old emotion and releasing it – but it took a lot of dedication to hard, inner work.

So clearly, when my dog died and I was faced with grief again, I wasn’t too thrilled.

Girl and her loyal labradoodle dog

Ignoring or Rationalizing Our Grief

At first, my mind tried to will it away, “It’s just a dog…It’s okay, it’s not a person…It was his time…” etc.

But that didn’t work because that wasn’t how I really felt. He was more than just a dog. He was really there for me when humans weren’t.  

Then, I tried to let myself cry, but it was so runny and made my nose so drippy and gooey. I don’t like messes, especially those of the nose-kind. 

So, I just carried on with my day blinking away the tears every now and then. But I already knew how that went because I did that with my grief for years.

Making a Change

I started to realize that these emotions weren’t going away unless I did something different than I did before. 

So, I tried to figure out how I was feeling, and I had one of those whoa!!-complete-eye-bulge moments. I was feeling something so much deeper than the loss of my dog. 

I was feeling like everyone always leaves me. My brother, my ex, my dog, some family members along the way. All these people were supposed to be there for me. 

And I just sat with that emotion – letting it run through me, really feeling into it. I did some journaling too.

I felt such an immediate sense of relief. Not perfect – but so much better than before because I could pinpoint how I was actually feeling. 

I didn’t need to fix it or solve it or do anything with it other than just feel it.

It sounds so simple, and it really is.

Really Feeling Our Emotions

We spend so much of our lives trying to not feel our emotions. When we connect back with our bodies, and let ourselves feel all the things then we don’t have to keep all the clutter.

Think about how good it feels when you declutter your house. It feels equally amazing when you declutter yourself from all these emotions that you spend years and years collecting. 

Am I still sad over my pup passing? Yes, of course. I still tear up. But I don’t feel an overwhelming sense of loss that I don’t know what to do with.

So, here’s my guide on how you can work through your grief. I truly hope it helps you, as I wish I had a resource like this when my brother died. 

How to Work Through Your Grief

So what can we do with our grief? Grief is such a dense emotion that we don’t really know how to navigate.

But when you treat it just like any other emotion, and feel it and let it take its course, it doesn’t need to be so dense and draining. 

1. Take time

So many times we want to keep ourselves busy. When my brother died, I had three jobs and college – and I just kept myself as busy as I could be so I didn’t have to feel my emotions.

No, no, and no.

You need to take time just to be.

Take time off and really nurture and take care of yourself. In whatever form that looks like for you.

Be careful not to completely disconnect with binging shows or getting swallowed up in social media – but really take some time to do things that will renourish your soul. This will look different for everyone. 

  • Sitting in nature and blasting songs in headphones
  • Lighting a candle and having a little ceremony for you – things you want to release, things you need support with, listen to songs and cry
  • Catching a sunrise or sunset (beach ones are the best)
  • Mediating – if you are new to meditating, search for a “guided meditation” on you tube and pick one that resonates with you
  • Reading your favorite things – mine are novels from my childhood like Anne of Green Gables
  • Watching shows that make me laugh
  • Moving my body in gentle ways – walks or yoga. If you have never done yoga, don’t try to do a whole 30 minute YouTube video, just google some simple stretches. Especially ones for your hips, we keep a lot of trauma there.

2. Journal

I had a lot of trouble with journaling, which is crazy because I’m a writer.

It’s almost like I didn’t want to put my feelings down on paper because that made them real.

Yet, when I started to journal, I realized it was as if having a beautiful conversation with myself.

No one to judge, no one to chime in, no one to tell me I was right or wrong, no validation to seek, no one to try to fix it, and I could actually talk through how I felt.

So if I started typing “I’m feeling so empty…” and then I realize it’s not really emptiness it’s more like the loss of a friend…

It sounds silly and similar, but sometimes in order to move on from a really big emotion, you need to know what it is.

Journaling is what helped me realize that I was really feeling the loss from people/animals that were supposed to be there for me. 

Journaling allows you the ability to connect with yourself, and all you have to do is write about how you feel. It’s so simple really because people love to talk about themselves. 

You can type your journal on your laptop or your phone – or you can write it. But the connection to yourself is one of the reasons why journaling is so important.

This connection is often so frail because we are so busy doing everything else that we aren’t in our bodies anymore. 

3. Feel It

When you figure out how you are feeling, then you can sit with it and feel it. You don’t even need to fix it or change it or solve it. You just acknowledge and feel it. 

If you have suffered a really deep loss, you are probably going to have a lot of emotions come up. Go easy on yourself and try to do as many things as you can from the list under Take Your Time. 

4. Move Your Body

We are so out of our bodies.

We are tired but force ourselves to stay up. We are thirsty but don’t stop what we are doing to get ourselves a drink.

One more email, one more minute.

Our bodies are communicating with us constantly. Stop and listen. What do we need right now?

We are so disconnected from our bodies that it is not surprising we don’t know what to do with our emotions.

Get back in your body by breathing, meditating, walking, yoga, boxing, bike-riding, anything that feels good to you.

If you don’t know what feels good to you, try something new OR think of what you loved to do as a child.

If you loved it then, you’ll probably love it again.

5. Go Easy On Yourself

We are all so critical of ourselves.

So many times, I thought my brother “insert number” many years ago, I should be over by now.

No, no, and no.

Time is an illusion.

Or, I thought, “It’s just a dog…I’m fine.”

Also, no.

Honor your feelings. Don’t judge yourself. There are too many critics in the world as it is.

Just love yourself through whatever you are feeling. That little voice in your head that says those unkind things… That’s not really you. 

As I touched on before, we aren’t really taught what to do with our emotions. We are actually taught to stuff them down, keep ourselves busy, and keep moving on.

Our culture rewards people that get right back on the train – get right back to work after a death in the family, after a miscarriage. Our culture honors and admires that. Our culture believes them to be strong and stoic.

Also, no.  

You, my friend, are being strong and stoic by honoring yourself and your feelings. 

And you’ll move through this in an easier and more empowered way by honoring yourself.

I’ve never been a trendsetter, but let’s start a new trend. 

One where we honor, love, and take care of ourselves. 

So as those deep feelings come up, let them. And, love yourself through the process.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *