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Many believe that everyone grieves in their own ways and there is no one correct way to do it. This idea is not exactly true though. The paradox is that there is a right way to grieve, but if you follow this right way then your grief experience will be singularly unique.

Resist the temptation to use drugs or alcohol to dull the pain. You’ve got to embrace your state for what it is instead of trying to cover it up if you want to give yourself the best chance to heal. Grief is an inescapable aspect of the human condition and represents the very best in us. It recognizes the intrinsic tragedy of being sentient organisms. We want so badly to keep our loved ones around us forever but we cannot. It is in our nature to one day lose everyone we care about.

You’ve got to accept how you are feeling without judgment, not trying to force something that is not there or cover up something that is. You are not in a movie. This is real life. There is no right way to be feeling except for how you are feeling. Mindfully embrace your state instead of trying to push it away. When we accept ourselves as we are we put ourselves in the best position to change. Similarly, when we accept our grief for what it is we put ourselves in the best position to heal.

There is a lot of suffering that comes along with grief but you don’t have to add more of it to the world. You don’t have a choice about what has happened but you do retain the choice to respond to your situation as you see fit. You can use this moment to reach a higher state of consciousness, to clarify many of the scary and tragic parts of your existential situation, to recommit to making all your human relationships defined by growth, connection, and love, and to add something beautiful to the world. This route does honor to the person you have lost, and he or she will be walking right beside you on your journey.

Probably the hardest part about moving through grief is that you have to reach a point where you can say goodbye, accepting the person you have lost is never coming back and deciding you have to move on with your life. Goodbyes are tragic. Just remember that if this person loved you they would surely want you to live a full, happy life where you feel connected. When you go out there and make the meaningful decision to increase your sense of connection you are affirming the life of the person you have lost, because this choice would not have been made without them leaving.

I recently learned that my Aunt Judy has passed away. She was a kind and loving person. Everyone who knew her will miss her. My brother had these words “Judy had a big heart, and I’ll never forget how she brought strays–both animals and people–into her home and loved them as her own.” The reason I am talking about Judy now is that doing so is a concrete example of what we have been discussing, using the loss of someone we care about to add good to the world, finding meaning through creation instead of destruction. We aid our own process of healing by helping others heal, and in these acts we do honor to the person we have lost. This article came about because of our loss. Judy helped many people and many animals in her life. If these words are of use to you on your grief journey then her journey of helping others continues too.