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Navigating Grief when your job is to hold space for others

Five of Cups Tarot CardGrief is different than I imagined it would be.

About six months ago we lost my Dad, and I feel worse now, or I feel MORE now, than I did then. Grief has become a more visceral thing.

When my Dad was sick, I shifted into pure adrenaline mode. My family created a pattern of support and concentration for each other so that we could still function.

I felt I needed to honor my business commitments and clients’ needs as much as possible. I read Tarot for private clients and at events, and did it well. I performed many wedding ceremonies, with love and sincerity. When I was working, I shifted myself into a different place completely, so that I was able to hold space for my clients.

Then I went back to the hospital with my Mom and my sister and watched my Dad slip away. And again I went back to work. And back to the hospital. I ask myself how I could have possibly done that, and I see now that the answer was that I had hope.

Now I have to find a new way to function. I have to assimilate everything that’s happened, and figure out how to live and thrive in this new world.

Everything I do professionally involves holding space for others.

When I do Tarot readings for people, they often cry. I give them a safe and confidential space to open their heart, to release pain and frustration, so that they can go back into the world feeling stronger, more peaceful.

When I perform weddings, I am the calm center, a grounding element in the midst of high emotion, nerves and joy.

So now I have been asking myself, how can I navigate my own grief, when so much of what I do involves putting aside my own emotions so that I can be fully present for others? How and where and when do I open up and release?

This situation applies to those of us in the healing or ceremonial fields, but also to everyone walking through this world with a compassionate heart and eyes to see. If you tend to focus on the needs of others, and are concerned above all with how your feelings and words may upset others, you can tie yourself up in knots and lose sight of what is going on in your own heart and what you need to do to heal it.

I don’t have answers, but here’s what I’m working with so far. This is my opinion and my personal experience with grieving, I am not a psychotherapist or medical practitioner, so take from it what you will:

  1. Hold some space and time for yourself to just BE. Don’t worry about fixing anything. Don’t try to come up with a plan about how or when you’ll be back to “normal”. Allow yourself some peace and quiet to check in with yourself and observe where you are and what you need at the time.
  2. Judging yourself or how you are personally dealing with grief isn’t helpful. Don’t make things worse for yourself by feeling shame that you aren’t doing better than you are. Observe how you are feeling, go with it, don’t feel that you should be following someone else’s timeline or process. Know that your emotions will ebb and flow, sometimes there will be numbness, sometimes intense pain. Ride the waves as best you can.
  3. If you don’t want to talk about how you’re feeling, find another outlet. Write. Do something physical. Cry.
  4. Try not to isolate yourself. If you’re not ready to share how you’re feeling, that’s ok. Just spend time with friends and loved ones, let them hold space for you.
  5. Have faith that things will get better. Life will never be the same, but trust in your own strength and know that you’ll find a way to get through it. Human beings are amazing, our tenacity and capacity for joy are vast.
  6. Make time and space to do things that you enjoy. When you’re feeling low, do something uplifting, distracting, enriching. Remind yourself that the world is a magical and beautiful place and our time here is a gift.
  7. Make self-care a priority. If you let yourself become drained you’ll have nothing left to give to your loved ones when they need you.

Being a Tarot reader brings me great joy and satisfaction. Connecting with people, gently guiding them towards the knowledge that they seek, helping them to make profound personal discoveries on their own, this is a privilege and it feeds my soul.

The process of grief has reminded me that I also need to focus my energy and intention on healing myself, to connecting with the Divine to find the answers and guidance that I need, to be my own client so to speak. And, to treat myself with the same respect and lack of judgement that I extend to everyone else.

If you’re going through a similar situation, my thoughts are with you, be kind to yourself and surround yourself with love. Give yourself permission to heal.

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8 Responses to Navigating Grief when your job is to hold space for others

  1. A L March 14, 2018 at 8:03 pm #

    This is beautiful and insightful, just like you. I will always hold space for you. xo

    • innergoddesstarot March 20, 2018 at 5:09 pm #

      Thank you, lady. You have been a source of strength and light through all of this, and I’m always here for you as well.

  2. Shanan March 20, 2018 at 2:37 pm #

    Yes to all this. I am walking a similar path. The question I keep asking is “how can I live in a world without my dad???” But the reality is that he is always with me. It doesn’t hurt any less that I can no longer feel his strong arms around me.

    Thank you for this message – I needed it.

    I hold space for you Lori and am grateful for the love and light you bring to this world.

    • innergoddesstarot March 20, 2018 at 5:10 pm #

      Thank you, Shanan. Sending love and support your way as well, let’s hold space for each other on this journey.

  3. Marie March 20, 2018 at 5:04 pm #

    I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your dad. I have had to go through this with both of my parents so I can relate. *hugs*

    And when it’s you that has to be the strongest to handle all the arrangements and people sending condolences, it becomes a nightmare in the truest sense.

    You absolutely have to set aside some time for yourself to grieve. I can not stress this enough! Go for a walk, sit in a park or an open church and just let it out. This way you can be the strong one again when needed.

    Grief does hit people differently and sometimes it can cause a problem. Like my eldest child handles it by laughing. He doesn’t mean it to be disrespectful, it’s just his way of taking in all this negative information and being able to process it. It has caused a lot of separation because people just don’t understand or not willing to understand. It put a huge rift in my marriage when my ex lost his dad.

    Sometimes it hits instantly, sometimes it takes time to settle in because you have slipped into zombie mode by not having time to process or not ready to. We all are built with a self-preservation mechanism inside and it knows how to do it’s job effectively in times of stress and grief. The longer it takes though, I found it to hit the hardest. That is why I learned this little trick of setting aside time for myself to let it out.

    • innergoddesstarot March 20, 2018 at 5:11 pm #

      Thank you, Marie, I really appreciate your words. Keep putting aside time for yourself, and I will do that for me as well. Lots of love your way.

  4. Alexandra March 20, 2018 at 7:03 pm #

    What a beautiful and insightful post, Lori!.
    I have watched for months now, as you navigated through such a sad and difficult period with strength, dignity and grace. I marveled at your ability to continue with your work, while still tending to your Dad and then ultimately, your family. I could easily beat myself up over the fact that I do not share your gift. I usually need to remove myself completely until the negative wave passes. This has bothered me at times (why can’t I just get on with it?!), but over the years have learned to heed the excellent advice of self-acceptance that you gave in point #2. Thank you for sharing your wonderful wisdom, and encouraging your readers to give themselves permission to be themselves.

    • innergoddesstarot March 20, 2018 at 8:23 pm #

      Thank you, Alexandra, this means so much to me. I am very happy to have your kindness and wisdom in my life.

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