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Growing from grief

In her weekly column, Cynthia Breadner of GriefCafeBradford discusses the various types of grief and its various stages
Cynthia Breadner for BradfordToday

“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.”  ― Wayne Dyer

When I am so entrenched in the chaos of life I often get lost in the mess of it all.  I have to be reminded about the beauty and the blessings around me.  The old saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”  comes to mind, easier said than done.   What this old saying may be asking is, when we look at any loss can we see it as an amazing opportunity to restart and shift gears? The flower you see above is in full bloom and yet it has gone through some tough times to get there.  The bloom then was ephemeral in nature, passing through, not to be lasting.  I took the photo to freeze the blossom in time so I can look upon it with my eyes. That said, each time I look at it with my eyes it conjures up the moment in time when I laid my eyes upon it and so this flower, which no longer exists, is alive, well and real in my mind’s eye.  I can return to that moment whenever I want. 

In the chaos of life, death happens.  Our loved ones who have passed through this human experience and the soul released from the flesh, feel gone forever like the bloom on this flower.  However, we can conjure them up simply by looking at a photo or touching something they once touched. They are alive in our hearts and souls. This, to me, is heaven. When a loved one goes to my concept of heaven, we are with them in thought, remembrance and love. Heaven is a place of beauty, timelessness and soul quenching energy. We can visit whenever we choose.  This may sound beautiful however when something or someone is lost to death … grief sets in.

Grief by definition is a keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret. Grief is our way of dealing with the losses in our lives and the deep sadness attached. Suffering through grief can be one of the biggest challenges we have to face in our life.  Grief can overwhelm our whole sense of being, the way we live our lives, and impact on our emotional, physical, psychological and behavioural well-being.  However these are all normal reactions to the pain of dealing with loss, and whilst there is no one way to grieve there are ways to understand what grief is, and how to react to it.

Grief is usually associated with the death of someone but can also  be the result of:

  1. Any relationship breakdown

  2. Loss of employment including retirement

  3. Changing locations or moving

  4. The death of a pet

  5. Life threatening illness

  6. Any traumatic experiences

Culture and society place upon us boundaries of what it means to be alive and when we subscribe to the rules of societal living, we fall in line, becoming robots to daily living drowning in our grief.  When this happens and we are feeling lost or lonely it is very difficult to find life. Hard to see green shoots or hope, new growth.  Any of these occurrences can be debilitating and create mental unwellness. 

Suffering grief is much like planting flowers.  The seeds of our grief go deep into the darkness, much like us when grieving, only to transform.  The darkness is where the spiritual growth takes place and change happens. As one is grieving it is often that signs of life are lost. Imagining new life, watching trees sprout leaves and gardens pushing out shoots of green is hard in the hearts of the grieving.  The simple act of seeking joy will bring renewed hope and wellness to your heart and soul.  When grieving the seeds of the soul take time to process and grow again. We all need help with our grief, it is not something that should be faced alone. 

During the recent isolation and deaths from the COVID virus so many people are grieving from the trauma of watching this virus take us down.  Down into a new place of living where grief is our middle name because we have no idea how to flower or how to begin blossoming again.  The waking up of our wounded soul is slow to come after such trauma.  The whole world has suffered this trauma and it is collective and complicated.

It is necessary we collectively take time to grieve and work through the stages together.  Being gentle with each other while watching to see the bloom.  Think of a rose bush struggling through the winter.  Being cut in the fall and laid down under the earth.  The cold and the snow of the season penetrate to the very soul of the plant.  It lays there waiting and listening for the signs of spring and the invitation to return to its beauty. 

That is us as a human race right now.  We are cut down and laying low under the cold hand of a virus waiting to see when we can bloom again.  When the time comes, we will know when to stand back up, green up and connect with our roots and begin the growth back to bloom.  Like a rose bush, there will be a full season of blooming.  One by one the buds will come out; the flower will bloom and then die off.  One by one each flower will have its day for the good of the whole.  As a community we too can bloom one by one, for the whole and know we are connected to each other by the root source.  Deep connection through deep rootedness in Mother Earth. 

The stages of grief are loosely seen as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  These stages can be witnessed more than once, and they do not always come in order.  The truth about grief is that when we do not observe it can be a hard taskmaster.  When we release ourselves to process our grief life can begin once again.  Once again, I say we all need help processing grief. 

I invite you to find some help so you can change, grow, push through the grief of your life and witness the spiritual flow that is at hand. Fall into the arms of divine spirit and rest your soul with love as you push through the heat of summer waiting like you are in the bowels of winter, waiting to see what is next in this 2020 year of isolation and change.  We are all in this together and when the bloom is on the rose you can smile and know that “this too shall pass” and life will find its new normal once again, in time, and in the space necessary to grieve all that is needed to be grieved.  

Walk with me,
Talk with me,
Share the journey with me.
Are you brave enough to bloom?  It takes time and the road can be hard, and you can do it. 

Cynthia Breadner is a soul care worker who offers one-on-one homecare for aging adults who choose to age in place. This care includes emotional support, physical care, mental well-being, and spiritual practices to sooth the soul.  She is a volunteer at hospice, LTC chaplain and a death doula, assisting with end-of-life for client and family.  She is the founder of GriefCafeBradford and practices soul care in the South Simcoe and North York region. She raises awareness how birth and death, each end of life can both be joy-filled and hopeful passages. [email protected]

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Cynthia Breadner

About the Author: Cynthia Breadner

Writer Cynthia Breadner is a grief specialist and bereavement counsellor, a soul care worker providing one-on-one support at
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