Grief Shock: What it is and how to deal with it

Grief Shock: What it is and how to deal with it

The first and most fundamental part of my Integrative Healing Process, is dealing with the shock aspect of grief, or what I call Grief Shock.

Grief shock is the initial difficulty of processing the loss, because it is unexpected or not in line with what you thought was true.

It is essentially a resistance to acceptance, because your mind is asking:“How can this be true?” or “This can NOT be happening.” It is not only the experience of loss, but a calling into question your entire sense of reality. It is grief combined with self-doubt and feelings of powerlessness.

Grief Shock feels like a part of your own heart was literally ripped out of your chest. Even if your beloved did not physically and suddenly die, it can feel like that to your heart.

No matter how complicated your relationship was, if your heart was bonded with your beloved’s, then your heart was–on a very real level–connected to theirs.

So regardless of the nature your break-up, your heart must actually learn how to grow apart. It has to disconnect from that other heart and breathe itself back home again.

This is the gift inherent in the pain.

If you are in the initial stages of your heart-break, or even further down the road but still having waves of shock, here are some empowering steps you can take to soothe yourself, heal your heart, and move towards full acceptance.

How to Deal with Grief Shock

  • Identify that you are in Grief Shock. You are in Grief Shock if you: Feel overwhelmed with strong emotions; Vacillate between grief and longing; Question if the break up was the right move; Bargaining on ways to get back together; Riding waves of anger, resentment, or revenge. It is crucial to name where you are. You can kindly and compassionately say, “Sweetheart, you are in shock. But you are ok, you will get through this.” Just name for yourself that you are in shock and that you are hurting and that you are ok. This is a great opportunity to practice self-love. How would you speak to somebody you loved who was going through this experience? Give yourself that same empathy.
  • Tune into the Emotional and Physical Experience. As soon as you can recognize that you are in Grief Shock, notice what’s also concurrently happening within your body. See if you can locate where your sensations are the strongest. Notice your breath and how deeply you are able to breathe. Likely it is shallow and your heart may even physically hurt. Where in your body do you feel it? Does this sensation have a color, temperature, or texture? Feel it without interpretation.
  • Touch the Pain. Once you can connect with your body and your breath, take a moment and put your hand where you are the most constricted. For example if it is your heart, rest your hand on your heart. See if you can literally hold your heart. Take 12 deep, slow breaths into your heart, or wherever you are feeling the most constricted. As you breathe, muster as much self -compassion for how you are feeling. Try your best to truly stay present with your pain. For it is your pain longing to be met that that causes the Grief Shock. So once you meet your pain, it morphs and defuses into acceptance (which then allows true movement through loss).
  • Connect with Nature. If you can, this exercise is even more powerful if you can lie down on the Earth. Put your belly on the Earth and let the Mother Earth hold you and breath with you. Even if lying on the Earth is not possible, you can invite your senses to open to nature, wherever you are. Take a walk through the forest, breathe in sea air, or simply go outside to feel the breeze. Science has shown this is physically grounding and emotionally calming.
  • Mentally Reframe. As you start to calm and settle down, you should feel some softening of the constriction. Remind yourself that your totality as a human being goes beyond your emotions or this relationship. Consciously acknowledge that you are a part of the vast ecosystem of Life. And finally, when you are ready, ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” If you need water, food, a friend, or a nap, take care of yourself. This type of nurturing will heal your wounded heart.

Remember, grief shock comes in waves. You never know what might trigger you. If there are particular people or places that you know will trigger you, avoid putting yourself in these situations if you can.

In those unavoidable moments when the shock is strong, the most important thing is to let yourself stay open to what is present. The intensity WILL pass.

Remain compassionate and gentle with yourself, never judging yourself for your struggle.

Good luck with these steps! Let me know how it goes and if I can support you.

Much love,



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