You may already know that the 5 stages of grief have been misattributed for decades. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the Swiss-American psychiatrist who is credited for the 5 stages of grief, initially delineated these stages for those people who were dying, not for their caregivers or loved ones.
Over the years, those who have lost a loved one have found solace in these 5 stages of grief, though critics describe them as troublesome due to their linear nature (and the non-linear nature of grief) as well as the oversimplified approach to grief that lacks nuance.
With that in mind, when we experience a profound loss, such as that of a child, we look for guidance on how to cope with the gaping hole left by that loss.
How do you cope with grief after pregnancy, infant, or child loss?
The most important aspect to remember about grief is that, as humans, we are capable of metabolizing grief. We are able to mobilize and metabolize our grief when we are adequately and supportively witnessed in our experience by safe others. Due to cultural or societal challenges, this is missing and is a common factor for grief to become stuck.
Another important aspect to remember about grief is that it is intended to feel insurmountable at first. That it feels overwhelming in the early weeks is not a problem that needs to be fixed. At Ruvelle, we liken grief to waves of the ocean – they will come, they will be huge, and if we can ride the waves and allow ourselves to be witnessed in our grief, they will become less intense and less frequent over time.
That does not mean that time heals the wounds, nor does it mean that the sadness will dissipate over time. You will always be deeply sad that you cannot hold your child in your arms or raise them through their lifetime. It means that the initial phase of grief, that big, core-shaking, overwhelming experience of it, will not stay in that shape forever.
When you want to do something as you feel through your grief
Mourning practices are especially powerful in helping us process and metabolize our grief. These practices vary widely around the world: Tibetan Buddhists practice sky burials, Hindus enter a 13-day period of mourning, and in some communities, church bells are rung to honor the dead, while people in Hong Kong scatter ashes at sea.
Mourning rituals don’t have to be so ornate or tied to religion to be effective, however. Choosing an activity or practice that is meaningful to you and your family, and honors your child is the most important element of a mourning ritual. Another way to think of a mourning ritual is a remembrance ritual. How do you want to remember your child? How do you want to access your memories of them? How often? Where? And in what capacity? We guide you through custom mourning and remembrance rituals in the Ruvelle Experience.
Gardening and Grief
Gardening has been shown to be a health-supportive activity, especially after a loss. Specifically, for grieving parents, gardening offers a simple, accessible way to address the muscle tension, elevated heart rate and elevated blood pressure since your loss.
At Ruvelle, we offer culturally-inclusive, meaningful plants to create a tending ritual to help you connect with the memories of your child. Each purchase comes with a somatic practice, guiding you on caring for the plant while staying connected to cherished mental and somatic memories of your child.