An Alternative Grief Paradigm: It’s OK If You Want To Be Ok
Ready for an alternative grief paradigm? Yes, it’s ok if you’re NOT ok while grieving the loss of a child. But it’s also ok if, one day, you decide you want to be.
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I know how easy – how tempting – it is to stay stuck in the pain because I was stuck there for years.
I went through the motions. I talked to the counselors. I was pretending I was ok, but inside I was still living in the same Hell I’d been stuck in since the day I lost Drew.
The pain was all I knew. It was all I felt I had left of my son. So I stayed there.
But at some point, something shifted.
I can’t tell you the day. I can’t recount the exact moment. But one day, it changed.
I was no longer ok with not being ok.
An Alternative Grief Paradigm
At some point in my grieving process, I realized I no longer wanted to be stuck in the pain. In fact, I wanted to believe that I could not only be ok – but that, one day, I could be truly happy again.
That realization, that sense of hope, was the start of a healing journey that not only restored my ability to feel joy and fulfillment again, but it also taught me to think differently about grief.
Through my journey, I learned a simple, life-altering truth:
Yes, it’s ok to not be ok; but it’s also ok to want to be ok again, too.
Through that belief, I began to form a different relationship with my grief. I had consciously chosen a new context for my grief. And it unlocked an incredible power within me.
It allowed me to re-imagine and redesign my life, again, including my relationship with my son, Drew.
By choosing an alternative grief paradigm, I was able to decide what I wanted this all to mean – for me.
What I Know About Grief
After nearly 20 years of grieving my son, I’ve learned several truths about what grief means to me:
1. There’s a lot of judgment around grief.
There’s an incredible amount of judgement surrounding grief and the grieving process, and it can feel even more intense for mothers suffering from the loss of a child.
I remember how every question felt like blame. What happened? Why wasn’t the door locked? Didn’t you hear it open?
But it went beyond the circumstances of my loss. Even my grieving process had to fit into five stages, follow a certain timeline, or be palatable enough for other people. No one meant real harm – there was just no way they could understand.
And that’s the thing. Everyone has their own idea about what grief should mean and look like to you. But no one ever asked me what I believed about grief.
2. It’s different for everyone.
Grief is different for everyone. That’s why other people’s ideas or beliefs about grief may or may not work for you. You may have to decide for yourself – and there is no right or wrong answer. There’s no one way through this. There’s just the way that works for you.
That’s why The A.R.T. of Healing is not designed to teach you one truth, one process, one approach to grief. Instead, it’s a collection of tools, activities, mindsets, lessons, stories, rituals, practices and more. It’s a safe place where you can come to just be where you are. Because I’m not pretending to have all the answers. I’m simply giving you everything I can think of to help you find yours.
3. It’s ok to not be ok.
That being said, I want you to know that it’s ok to not be ok. I spent so many years feeling this way, and there’s nothing wrong with it. If you are in this place, you are not alone. It’s not your fault, and you can’t force yourself to feel any other way. If you’re not ready to move through the feeling of not being ok, then you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
4. It’s ok if you want to be ok, too.
If you are ready to feel better again, however, that’s ok, too.
If you want to feel happy again, that doesn’t mean you have to leave behind or forget your pain and your memories. You don’t have to downplay the things you feel – ever.
But at some point, I knew I needed to choose something different than the constant, impossible pain. I couldn’t live that way anymore, and I didn’t want to. So I started hoping for something more for myself.
After years of daily, dedicated healing – and some major mindset shifts – I am grateful to say that today I am happy, peaceful and fulfilled. I have discovered that pain doesn’t die; it simply transforms. You can’t run from it, dodge it or fight it, but you can transform it. For me, that meant channeling my pain into purpose, and my emptiness into fulfillment.
And I’ve also discovered that love doesn’t die; it also transforms. Today, I am grateful for every moment I shared with my son, Drew, and I am grateful for the relationship I have with his spirit and memory today. I’ve even found meaning in his passing. Happiness and joy are possible once again, and it’s ok to want it for yourself again.
5. The company of grievers helps.
Pain has a way of limiting your vision. It’s so intense that you can only see what’s right in front of you. In those moments, the whole world becomes too much to look at. That’s why it helps so much to have someone who can see through the fog and down the road ahead – someone who can begin to show you there are still beautiful things on the horizon.
The one place I always felt most comfortable experiencing my grief was with another mother who had suffered the loss of a child. Other people can have empathy, but when another mother has been in your shoes, she can support you in a way that feels uniquely credible. Being in the company of other grieving moms can shift the discussion. And if we’re having a discussion about moving through the grief and finding happiness, then we can grow through shared personal experiences. We can find our answers together.
The Bottom Line
I feel like God is calling me to speak to the woman I once was. To her, I would say: There are things you can do that will advance you through the grieving experience and healing journey so completely that, one day, you will feel emotionally whole and spiritually free.
And it all starts with the way you think. About your experience. About your relationship with grief. About the life you want for yourself. If you can re-imagine a more loving belief system, then you can redesign a more fulfilling life.
For me, that started when someone told me:
It’s ok if you want to be ok – and it’s absolutely possible.
Share With Us!
What’s your relationship with grief like? Do you want to be ok again?
Share with us! We would love to know!
Your story is so important.
The A.R.T. of Healing is a membership, resource and community for mothers who are moving through the pain of losing a child. Conversations and materials will focus on the three main shifts that occur once you’ve reached the point of acceptance.
When you have accepted that your reality is now different, and you’re ready to find hope and happiness again, then this membership will provide a creative framework for your healing journey – as well as the community to support you along the way.
It includes activities, journal prompts, meditations, rituals, affirmations, a 7-part video series of healing principles and exercises and more – all to support you as you transform from a life of loss to feeling spiritually whole and emotionally free.
Learn more here: https://melissahull.com/membership/.