Dear Barbara, I just read the post you wrote about grieving. My tears won't stop running down my face. It struck a nerve. My father passed away 3 weeks ago after being sick for so long. The semi-numbness you talk about is wearing off now. I thought I was cold this entire time but I didn't want to accept it. I don't know what you meant by being gentle to yourself. What methods of being gentle to myself did you mean? Because all I feel is guilt, anger, regret and mostly lethargic followed by just emptiness.
Grief brings with it all kinds of emotions, unanswered questions and as you mentioned guilt, anger, and regret. We tend to "beat ourselves up" for past occurrences and thoughts we now cannot address or fix. All this makes our loss more complicated.
What do I mean by being "gentle" with yourself? I mean forgive yourself for all the things you feel guilty about. Remember we always do the best we can with the information we have at the time. In hindsight, with more information, we may wish we had done things differently but in the moment we did the best we were able to do. No one sets out to do something badly.
So --- self forgiveness is a start.
One of the ways to let go of those areas you feel bad about is to write the person who has died a letter. Write everything you would say if you could. Put down all the positive and negative thoughts and feelings. When the letter is finished, burn it and imagine the feelings burning with the paper. You are releasing that which is keeping you from living with your grief.
Being gentle with yourself is putting yourself first. What makes you feel good? What do you need right now? If you could do, or go, or see, or say, anything what would it be? What is stopping you from realizing it?
Being gentle with yourself is recognizing your needs and getting them filled. Being gentle with yourself is not judging yourself for the past and moving forward with positive intentions.
We don't recover from grief. It doesn't go away on any magic day. We must learn to live with it. My hope is we let how well we go on living be the testament to the life we are mourning. Let how well we live life, express our love for the person who has died. Let our example be not about how many tears we shed but how well we move forward.
Something more about Be Gentle With Yourself... I have a booklet on grief called My Friend, I Care. You might find it helpful.