What Do Eyebrows Have to Do With Grief?
by Megan Mlynczak, RHC
Since when was death, grief, mourning, and bereavement something that was shunned and locked up behind closed doors?
Did you know that it takes about 56 to 73 days (depending upon age) for your eyebrows to grow back. I know… this seemingly totally random sentence doesn’t belong with grief, right? Oh, but my friend, it does. Once upon a time, the family of a passed loved one would shave their eyebrows. They did this as a sign to the community that they were in a phase of bereavement and mourning for their loss. This very public symbol of loss allowed the community around them to reach out. They would engage with the mourner and show compassion by helping with the kids, meals, chores, and tasks. Even if the mourner was not known to that particular person, the lack of eyebrows showed that they should show the utmost respect, patience, and love.
We still have our very important rituals, and each culture has a different, unique, and beautiful way of honouring the life and loss of a loved one. But the one constant that society has bestowed upon us is that once the funeral or ritual is done, you grieve at home in private.
Let’s face it… Grief is super uncomfortable. It is not a place anyone aspires to be. It’s not a lifelong dream or something people want to accomplish in life. This is what happens when someone that you loved and held so dearly is now gone. You officially join a group that you never wanted to belong to.
Each and every client who has walked through my doors has an image of how they are “supposed to” grieve. They feel alone. They feel shunned. And these amazing beautiful people, who are in the midst of one of the worst journeys of their life, are showing compassion to the world by not wanting to make us uncomfortable with their feelings and emotions.
Since when are we like this? How did we become this as a society? When did we flip from taking care of those who need it, to expecting them to do it alone?
If I have learned anything at all about grief on my journey, it’s that it is not meant to be gone through alone. There is something truly liberating about connecting with someone who just gets your grief. That one person that understands what it is like to breakdown at work because that shirt reminded them of their loved one. Or having someone who can appreciate the release that comes with a good heart-wrenching cry from the depths of your soul. There is a freedom that comes from feeling understood about all the craziness, and the illogical, irrational things that one experiences while mourning. And it is critical to have that person who you can ask those deep dark questions without feeling crazy or judged.
I know I’ve struggled on my grief journey, and I have learned I am not the only one; everyone in grief feels like they are. I felt frustrated that I had to wait three weeks to see someone while I was having a grief burst now. I was uncomfortable in a group setting because I felt others had it worse than I did (and I am an introvert). I struggled with religion-based groups because I was mad at God and the universe and didn’t take comfort in knowing my loved ones were in a better place. I didn’t need to be “treated.” I didn’t need anti-depressants. I just needed someone to help me through. I needed someone to help me safely explore grief in my own way, to decide for myself what and how I wanted it to look. Someone to teach me what grief was “supposed to” be.
My grief journey was also where I became inspired. This is why I became a Life, Health, and Grief Coach. If I felt like this, then I knew others did, too. There is a need to get back to being open, honest, and compassionate about grief. To change the way we talk about and look at death. There is a need for people to navigate their grief in a way that works for them. So I invite you to get inspired too, and join this new age where you can come along for things like social nights, nature walks, or even meditation groups. Maybe you prefer to engage in group support sessions or a variety of retreats. There is always the option of a private session for those who are not ready for group work, and consultations are always free. There are even programs available for those who want a prolonged personal approach (one of my most popular options). The most important thing about all of this is creating a warm safe space for you to mourn and grieve in whatever way feels right for you. To make that daunting, lonely journey feel a little less painful.
Megan Mlynczak is a Registered Life, Health, and Grief Coach and the owner of Divine Life by Design. She specializes in helping those who are grieving and navigating major life changes by providing a unique variety of services such as workshops, support groups, private sessions, retreats, etc. She also helps men and women alike with stubborn weight loss issues, thyroid problems, self-esteem, and self-confidence issues. Using Mindfulness and CBT techniques, she assists clients with direction, goals, and building healthy habits. Unsure if she can help you, book your free consultation now at (639) 397-0116, Megan@DLBD.ca, or Divinelifebydesign.ca. You are not required to be local; meetings can take place online by phone, Skype, or FaceTime. Also see the display ad on page 26 of the 25.1 May/June issue of the WHOLifE Journal.