You know how you finally reach a point where you’re not crying as much as you once were? You find that you’re thinking less about your loss, and things are otherwise “fine,” and then… boom, you get hit by a grief grenade, and suddenly you don’t feel fine anymore.
Maybe it’s a song on the radio, or driving past the hospital, but suddenly, you’re caught off guard and you instantly feel a hit of grief in your body. It feels all-consuming and definitely unpleasant, but don’t worry, because this week, I’m sharing 3 practical strategies to help you calm yourself and navigate your grief grenades with the utmost love and compassion for yourself in those moments.
Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, episode 105, Grief Grenades.
Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, the only podcast that offers a proven process to help you work through your grief, to grow, evolve, and create a future you can truly look forward to. Here’s your host, Master Certified life coach, grief expert, widow, and mom, Krista St-Germain.
Hey there. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. Who doesn’t want to talk about grief grenades, right? I mean, what could be more fun than grief grenades?
Listen though, I want to talk to you about it, I’m going to tell you a little bit about something that happened in my life recently, and then we’re going to talk about grief grenades. So I told you last episode that the boyfriend and I bought a house and I say bought a house, we haven’t actually paid for it yet, we’ve made an offer on the house, the offer has been accepted, we’re in the process.
So in preparation to move, I have started to pack. And of course, I have lived in the same house since Hugo died. So I still have a lot of his stuff and as you’ve heard me tell you in prior episodes, I have never been in a rush to get rid of any of Hugo’s belongings. I have never pushed myself or pressured myself and I’m so glad that I have done that.
And I’ve just really given myself permission to go slowly and at my own pace because there is no rush. And I just really haven’t wanted to. So I hope you’ll do that too. I hope you won’t put any arbitrary pressure on yourself because no matter what anybody else is saying, you don’t need to get rid of anything.
And I’m coming up on five years, and I still have until this past week, a lot of Hugo’s shirts in my closet. And Hugo was famous for wearing plaid and he was just such a cute dresser. French Canadian engineer, kind of nerdy, but he just loved his plaid. So my stepmom had offered to make a blanket at one point and take a lot of his shirts and put them into a quilt.
And so I’ve just kind of been saving some of these shirts with that in mind, but I kind of came to the point finally where I decided I’m okay without that quilt. I don’t need it, I’m okay without it. I’ve got those memories in my brain, I’ve got those memories in lots of pictures, I don’t actually need that fabric.
And if you want a quilt, you get yourself a quilt. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with quilts. I’m just saying for me, that I came to a place where I just decided I was okay without the quilt. And so I don’t know, maybe a couple of months ago, I was doing a little bit of closet purging and I went to go get rid of those shirts. I was going to donate them.
And I started to do it and I just – tears were welling up in my eyes, I could feel – I don’t even know that the tears were actually there but you know that pre-cry feeling that you get in your throat? And I was like, you know what Krista, you’re just not ready yet, it’s okay that you’re not ready, there’s no rush here.
And so I didn’t. So I just left those shirts. I got rid of a few other things that I had still had in our master closet, but I just wasn’t ready to get rid of the shirts so I didn’t. And so this past week, when I went to pack again, I just noticed that when I went into the closet, it felt completely differently to me.
And I don’t know exactly what shifted in my brain that created that shift in my heart, but I didn’t feel that tension, I didn’t feel that need to cry, I didn’t even really feel that emotional. It felt like time. It felt like time.
And so I was able to take all of those clothes out of the closet, just all the plaid, and donate them. And I’m so glad that I just gave myself time, that I didn’t judge myself, and that it did switch, when it was meant to be it was.
And so what I want to offer to you before we jump into discussing grief grenades is that you know what is right for you. You know. And you don’t need to second-guess that. You can just trust that little still small voice. And if something feels too emotional for you and you don’t want to do it, you don’t need to force yourself. You can let it unfold for yourself in a way that feels good and right to you.
And I just really hope that you will give yourself the gift of trusting your own voice, and not succumbing to a should that shows up in your brain, or a should that comes from someone else. Because it’s no fun for you and I just don’t want that for you.
So I just wanted to tell you that little story because I thought it was relevant. So let’s talk about grief grenades. You know how when things are going fine, you’re not crying as much as you once were, or maybe you’re thinking less about the loss, or you’re focused on other things not related to the loss, you perceive that things are going “fine.”
And then, wham, grief grenade. A song comes on the radio, you see a Father’s Day commercial, you get invited to somewhere that was maybe special to the two of you, or somewhere you haven’t been without your person, you drive by the mortuary, you drive by the hospital.
For me, grief grenades would come when I would see CPR scenes on television, or I would drive by the spot on the highway where the accident happened, or I would see a Dodge Durango around town, which is the car that Hugo drove, or I would see a Camry. Those are the two cars that were in the accident.
Or I would see someone on the side of the road with a flat tire, and it would just catch me so off guard. I remember one time I actually got another flat tire on my car, on the exact same tire of my new car that had gone flat, that I had to pull over when Hugo was killed trying to change my tire on my car.
So I’m driving along, things are fine, and then all of a sudden, this flat tire happens and my heart is racing and I pull over on the side of the highway and I’m not fine anymore. At that moment in time. It doesn’t feel fine anymore.
So maybe that’s tears, maybe it’s a racing heart, maybe it’s a sense of panic. It can be different for different people. Even sometimes certain songs on the radio for me have really caught me off guard. Songs that meant a lot to me or Hugo, and all of a sudden there it is.
So something happens and just instantly you feel it in your body. I know you know what I mean. If you have lost your spouse, I know you know what I mean. And so what I want to offer you in today’s episode of the podcast is three practical strategies for dealing with these unpleasant surprises, these grief grenades, so that you can navigate them with more grace and more compassion.
You ready? Alright, first, I suggest you put your hand on your heart and take three long deep breaths. I used to think this was kind of corny. Who puts their hand on their heart? I don’t know, just seemed a little cliche. But I’m telling you, it really does help me and I do it with my clients too, ground myself and get back into my body.
It helps me calm myself. So if you can’t put your hand on your heart because your hands are full or for whatever reason it’s not practical, even just imagine that your hand is on your heart and take those three deep breaths. Get yourself back into your body and present and grounded.
And second, drop your resistance to what’s happening. I know it’s counterintuitive. I know it won’t feel natural. I know it will take practice. But in the moment, if you can say yes to what is happening to you, if you can drop the resistance, you will help yourself so much.
Resisting it, that grief grenade, resisting whatever the emotion is, whatever is going on in your body only gives it power. It only tires you out. Think back. If you were in labor, imagine if you just refused to be in labor. Imagine if you had a contraction and you just said no, not today, shouldn’t be happening, nope.
Can you imagine? You would have never done that. That would have made labor so much harder for you. That would have made handling the contraction, denying that it’s there, harder. And so what did you learn to do instead? You learned, you stay in your body and you breathe.
You know that contraction is going to pass. You know that contraction needs to run its course and work its way through you. You know that resistance is futile.
Now, maybe if you’re like me, you also got an epidural. But regardless, you didn’t tell yourself labor shouldn’t be happening or that it was a problem or that contractions weren’t supposed to be there. And so what I want to offer to you is that just like contractions are a part of labor, grief grenades are a part of grief.
So stop resisting them. And we don’t mean to do it, it’s just counter to what we’re used to. We’re not used to saying yes to something that feels painful. Everything in our primitive brain doesn’t want that. So of course, it’s not going to be something that comes naturally to us, we’re going to have to work at it.
And if saying yes to what’s happening feels like too much of a stretch, then say to yourself, you don’t even have to say it out loud, “I allow this, or I can allow this, or this is happening and I can allow it. I can allow this wave to pass through me.”
Because remember, feelings can’t hurt us. We don’t need to escape them. They’re just vibrations in our bodies. Feelings are a valuable part of our humanness. They’re supposed to be there. Even the ones we don’t always want and aren’t prepared for. And when we allow them, they get less intense and they get easier to experience.
So first, hand over your heart, three long deep breaths. Get grounded, get back in your body. Second, drop your resistance to what’s happening, even though it feels really weird, say yes to what’s happening. Allow it, give it permission to be in your body. Drop the resistance.
And third, love yourself through this part of your grief experience. If we aren’t loving ourselves through a grief grenade, then typically what we do is we take whatever the pain of that grenade is and we pile more pain on top of it. We take that pain and instead of processing it cleanly, we turn it into suffering. We turn clean pain into dirty pain.
So you heard me last week, episode 104, talk about This is Just The Part Where. Episode nine, Pain versus Suffering, there’s no need to be mad at yourself because this grief grenade happened. It does not mean you did anything wrong. You do not need to make it mean that you are stuck or stalled or not healing or any of those things.
Love yourself through this most undesirable grief grenade because this is just grief. This is just grief. And you’re doing great. And I want you to tell yourself that in that moment. Be kind to yourself. Use my voice if it helps. I have clients tell me all the time, they hear my voice. They hear my saying I love you and you’ve got this.
I say that to myself when things are hard for me. I love you Krista, I love you, you’ve got this. Say it to yourself. The grief grenade comes, you put your hand on your heart, three big breaths, you stop resisting what’s happening, just like you wouldn’t tell yourself a contraction shouldn’t be happening, you don’t tell yourself that grief shouldn’t be happening, that this little grief grenade shouldn’t be happening, and third, you love yourself as it happens.
You are kind to yourself in the way that you speak to yourself. There’s no need to take this and turn it into something bigger than it needs to be. Grief grenades are just part of grief, just like contractions are a part of labor. I love you, you’ve got this, and I’ll see you next week. Take care. Bye-bye.
If you like what you’ve been hearing on this podcast and want to create a future you can truly get excited about, even after the loss of your spouse, I invite you to join my Mom Goes On coaching program. It’s small group coaching just for widowed moms like you where I’ll help you figure out what’s holding you back and give you the tools and support you need so you can move forward with confidence.
Please don’t settle for a new normal that’s less than what you deserve. Go to coachingwithkrista.com and click Work With Me for details and next steps. I can’t wait to meet you.