Scheduling grief means planning specific times to process and work through your grief. Whilst in theory this sounds very neat and tidy, people grieve in different ways and have their own unique reactions and defaults in grief. Can we open our grief door and then close it on demand or will this just fuel our grief and create a pressure cooker effect?
Can we program our grief to surface in a window in our diary?
Grief affects us all differently, even though we share similar emotions to others, no two people will experience the same loss in the same way. Some may find it helpful to schedule dedicated times for their grief to feel a sense of stability and control, allowing themselves to immerse in their emotions. Others may need to leave their grief to its own ebb and flow to be addressed as it arises naturally.
We can’t always make it bubble up on demand and fit neatly neatly into a schedule because grief is so often unpredictable and messy, catching us at times we least expect it to. Also, there may be an element of frustration if your scheduled grief time leaves you feeling ‘unfinished’.
Don’t be surprised if this happens. We are not robots therefore trying to compartmentalise grief into specific times can confuse the natural rhythms of our grief and can create further confusion trying to control something that is the most natural thing in the world.
Grief is a huge period of transition and is probably one of the main experiences in our lives where our instincts can be the strongest. Trying to pigeonhole it, can mean that we miss healing messages, urges and instincts. We must listen to our bodies in times of loss because that is where our healing comes from – within.
Whether it’s a good idea depends on each person and their unique circumstances and also the relationship they had with the person who has died.
Schedule self-care instead
However scheduling self care is vital during our grief experiences and can be of great benefit with processing our emotions. Engaging in activities that bring you comfort and a sense of calm can contribute to your overall wellbeing during your grief journey. Self care can take many forms – journaling (my favourite - I call it the power of the pen), exercise, walking in nature, aromatherapy bathing etc. All these are a form of scheduling grief, as self care is aways part of the process.
It would be heartening to think that grief is obedient and that there are specific times that we can set aside a dedicated time to grieve but we cannot control the grieving process - our grief doesn’t work with us, we work with our grief.
Trust yourself and your instincts when it comes to scheduling time for grief. We have to work with our own personality too. If you find it particularly challenging or overwhelming, seek professional help with your scheduling.
While establishing a routine or structure can provide a sense of stability, it’s crucial to remain flexible and allow the grieving process to unfold naturally.
Lianna Champ has over 40 years’ experience as a grief specialist and is author of practical guide, How to Grieve Like A Champ.