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What To Do With Unprocessed Grief

Lisa Michele Zega March 2023

Grief Kuel Thought Leader: Lisa Michelle Zega

Love Grief? What if grief is an invitation to question everything?

Like, what matters? Is this true? What’s the point?

Fresh Grief:

Often when experiencing loss, what once made sense no longer does. The body may not work the same. This can be especially noticeable in fresh grief, or unprocessed grief. [Note: you define what is fresh grief.] Loss tends to slow the mind and body, which can make us more aware of what’s happening in and around us.

“Ignoring the body’s communication becomes the norm when that is anything but natural.”

Social norms teach us to ignore what is happening in our own bodies. The rule to not fart or burp in public goes unquestioned without asking whether or not that’s good for us. We don’t think about what the norm communicates. Keep it inside. But what happens when it’s left inside?

We’re told to eat at set times. It doesn’t matter if you’re hungry or not. No need to tune into your body, just eat what’s on your plate. Ignoring the body’s communication becomes the norm when that is anything but natural.

Remnants Of Society’s Tale:

It doesn’t stop there. Don’t cry because you might make someone else uncomfortable. Don’t say what’s true for you, just go along. The remnants of society’s tale, children should be seen and not heard, keep us from hearing ourselves. We are literally conditioned out of awareness of our body, emotions, and experiences. It’s no wonder we have unprocessed grief.

So we mindlessly eat when we’re not hungry, shop to feel better, and go through the motions like ‘good’ boys and girls. We come to believe that the goal is to stay comfortable and that anything that feels bad is bad for us. But grief is the normal and natural response to loss. So yes. Love grief. Allow it to tell us of forgotten places. Let it open us to our deep longing for love, safety, and belonging.

Let grief sew us back to ourselves like in the story of Peter Pan. His shadow was the part of himself that had been ignored and did its own thing, disconnected from him. What if grief is like Wendy, offering to connect us with our true selves?

“Let grief sew us back to ourselves like in the story of Peter Pan.”

Remember when Captain Hook captured Peter and sewed his shadow onto his own? What if unprocessed grief is like that? The shadow of self sewn to another and passed from generation to generation. Stitched to a lie that poses as normal.

Unprocessed Grief:

What if grief is love offering to bring us back to ourselves, one another, and the world? How do we access its gifts?

If grief is love we start with the premise that grief is safe to experience and feel. We sense into the weight of our loss and invite love to wash comfort through our bodies.

Slowly scanning the immediate environment can bring the assurance that there is no threat of danger and let the body ease into the experience of safety. Become present with how the body feels. Start with the physical sensations.

Grief Is Love:

Slowing down and growing awareness of the body is a path home to yourself. It’s attuning to the part of you that governs almost all of the body’s functions and emotional regulation, the nervous system. Experiencing grief as love is an attentive and gentle process that welcomes questions and holds your hand on the journey.

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Lisa Michelle Zega

About the Author:

Lisa Michelle Zega is a Life Coach for Midlife Women of faith who are starting over after the death of a spouse or a divorce and are struggling with sadness and self-doubt. She helps them metabolize grief to retain all the nutrients, learning and wisdom and release the waste, so they can begin again with joy and confidence. 

She was married to a pastor, divorced after 23 years of marriage and her boys stopped talking to her for nearly 6 years. Zega later buried a fiancé 5 months before their wedding day. She now lives with her handsome biker hubby, adorable Jack Russel and creative stepson outside of Los Angeles and enjoys a renewed relationship with her grown sons. 

She’s a devoted Minnesota Vikings fan, enjoys people, loves to hike, read, travel and embraces the fullness of life — the joy, sorrow and all the in between. You can find more about Lisa Michelle at Legityou.com or Lisamichelle.legityou on Instagram.