MBeing calm while grieving is a lot like avoiding stepping on trip wires. It can feel like anywhere you turn there is a potential catalyst waiting for you to bring you back to your grief and longing for what you lost, even if heartbreak happened to you many years ago. Like any other emotion, sadness does not come when called on; It can crash over you like a wave when you least expect it or welcome it.
Grief does not have a set sequence and is not linear – how and when someone experiences it is entirely individual. If you go through the day one day and suddenly feel a tingle in the back of your throat or a tightness in your chest at an uncomfortable time, you might look back and wish you could suppress those feelings and save them for later or not experience them at all – which is why taking back a little bit of strength when dealing with Grief looks very attractive. One way to do this is to take time to experiment and express your feelings. According to grief counselors, scheduling a time to grieve can provide the space needed to feel and engage with your feelings.
TV fans may recognize the concept of grief scheduling from the recent episodes of two hit shows. for the fierce corporate drama on HBO Successionthe eldest daughter Shiv Roy was asked if she was “scheduling her grief” by her husband when she was found crying in the company boardroom after her father’s death.
As a businesswoman vying for control of her family’s company, she is unable to cry in public at work or near her family and co-workers. on Apple TV+ shrank, therapist Dr. Paul Rhodes, played by Harrison Ford, advises his clients to take 15 minutes during the day to sit with their sadness — he advises his client to listen to the saddest music you know and see what happens. While the shows may be fanciful, the concept of making time to express grief is not and can be an essential part of working through and managing it.
Why scheduling your grief is a good idea
So what does grief scheduling mean? According to grief counselor Gina Moffa, LCSW, author of the forthcoming book Moving On Doesn’t Mean Giving Up: A Modern Guide to Coping with LossInstead of completely ignoring feelings when they arise or trying to hack through them, Moffa says, it’s about “putting them in a secure little container and getting back to them at a specific time.”
By doing this, it is possible for someone to regain a bit of control over their feelings and incorporate grief into their lives on their own terms. “It gives us a sense of control without actually holding back our feelings and never going back to them, which a lot of people do when they’re busy,” Mova says. There’s no one right way to do it either, because it can look different for everyone — working through grief doesn’t have to mean sitting in a room crying alone.
Moffa, psychotherapist and author Meghan Riordan Jarvis, MA, LCSW notes that this scheduled time can include a lot of activities—Jarvis actually allocates between seven and nine minutes of grief diaries to her clients as part of their therapy. For others, sharing their grief might mean moving, crying, writing a letter to someone they love and miss, or what Ford’s personality is like. shrank She recommends: Jamming to a sad song you can think of and letting any feelings come over you unabated.
“It gives us a sense of control without stuffing our feelings in and never going back to them, which a lot of people do when they’re busy.” Grief counselor Gina Moffa, LCSW
The reason this works is because we can separate our thoughts and feelings when necessary. Compartmentalization is a defense mechanism enacted by the brain to help you move forward even as painful emotions and feelings come up. “The brain can prioritize certain tasks and emotions, allowing us to temporarily put aside our sadness and focus on the task at hand,” says neuropsychologist Sanam Hafeez, director of the Understanding Mind programme. “This is a natural coping mechanism that allows us to function despite the emotional pain we may be experiencing.” However, the key part is to go back to these feelings to deal with them and interact with them.
While many people can benefit from this practice, Moffa especially recommends this to her busy patients whose responsibilities, such as caregiving or work, prevent them from fully indulging in their emotions as they arise. Other people who might gain something from this are those who experience anxiety and burnout as a result of their poor skills in managing and regulating their emotions and people who would like more privacy to work through their feelings because scheduling grief allows the time and space to do so. special conditions. This practice can also be beneficial for people who may not have access to paid sick leave or who do not have flexible schedules that allow them to take time off to grieve. However, people who tend to be emotionally avoidant may use scheduling as a way to not deal with their grief, so it is important to be aware if you are someone who fits this pattern.
To be clear, setting aside time to feel your sadness doesn’t mean that you won’t experience symptoms of grief unexpectedly, or even that you’ll necessarily learn to control your emotions. Instead, doing so is part of strengthening and exercising your coping mechanisms to “allow yourself what you need, which is to carry that grief with you” as it changes and develops, says Jarvis. “If you want to do something very expensive like running a marathon, you’re going to have to run every single day or at least have a plan for how you’re going to build your ability to do that hard thing,” she says. Think of it as training time for your mind and heart: Part of grieving is learning to live with grief in all its metamorphoses, and scheduling time to experience your life can help you down that path.
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