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Even though Memorial Day was started in rememberance of specifically US veterans, it's also a great reminder to honor all those who have passed on from this life. Our people make us who we are. Learning to grieve well is a highly important emotional skill each of us need to learn as a part of our emotional and spiritual development.

Here's a quick run down of the tasks involved in grief.

  1. Recognize the Loss - Name the things (ideals? people?) you've lost. Losing someone or something requires a re-calibration of life. If we pretend we haven't lost them, we tend to live in a bit of a fantasy world, making it harder to connect with the people right in front of us.

  2. Remember the Good You Hoped For - The human heart is capable of tremendous hope and creativity in what we dream for ourselves. That hope pulls us forward and helps us recover from a lot of pain. Without hope we become depressed. Remembering the good you hoped for is a very powerful way to honor your own heart and the good work it is doing for you, even if it wasn't able to accurately predict this event. This can be a very painful step, but take heart--the pain will not destroy you. Breathe through it.

  3. Identify and Express the Emotions You Feel - Just recognizing what you feel both emotionally and physically as you mourn is a great way to attune to your God-designed heart and body. People who are well-attuned to their own bodies take better care of them and are better able to utilize the information they find there. Once you've identified the emotions, it's your job to find an appropriate way to release those emotions, both for yourself and for those who want to care for you. Not releasing emotions has a tendency to make us sick in one way or another.

  4. Honor the Loss - Whatever you've lost, you valued it for a reason. Take time to remember the good about that person or thing. If it is a person, consider some ways you could honor them in your present life, either by imitating their good behavior or making a ritual that helps you remember them on a more regular basis. (For example, my cousin who passed away a few years ago loved the color purple. I have a few purple clothing items I wear just in her honor. I also have heard of people eating a loved one's favorite food or regularly using a gift that person gave them).

  5. Decide What You Will Do Now - If the person or thing was significant enough for you to grieve, it's important to figure out how you will go on without them. People who love us would never want us to suffer indefinitely without them. It actually honors them to find a way to move forward. This doesn't mean we won't still miss them, but we can learn to thrive despite the sadness.

No matter what your loss, it's important to have companions alongside you in your grief. Find a trusted friend, pastor, or competent professional counselor to support you. Grief is too heavy a burden to bear alone.

Unsplash Evgeni Tcherkasski

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