Jasmin Jenkins is a grief guide and the founder of Fall Up, a community platform created to support people navigating the spectrum of grief. Here, she answers questions from the fullest about navigating loss.
What are the different stages of grieving?
The stages of grief were first identified by the late Swiss-American psychiatrist, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her book On Death and Dying (1969). The five stages were identified as: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Even with this, I want to remind you that grief is not a linear process.
The stages are there for reference and understanding, but ultimately you will process them in your own unique way, in your own time.
You may feel a rush of feelings today, and then tomorrow wake up feeling fine. Give yourself grace — it takes time to heal.
If you find yourself stuck in one of the stages ask for support. Denial guides us to arrive in the present. Anger forces us to explore our needs. (What do we need to be different? What do we need to change today?) Bargaining invites us to stay with the here and now — to surrender into the truth that it was all out of our hands. Depression shows us how to slow down and reflect. And acceptance helps us learn to take care of our heart in new ways.
Ultimately, I encourage you to meet your grief as a friend. Get curious about what it has to teach you and be willing to see each stage as an opportunity to deepen your connection to aliveness.
How do you deal with grief from a tragedy?
What I’ve learned in guiding people through their grief, is that ultimately everyone’s grief is as unique as their fingerprint. This means that even when you are grieving the same tragedy as someone else, your needs during your grief process are going to be uniquely yours. What may be supportive for you as it relates to your tragedy, may not have meaning for another.
The important thing is to stay connected to people who love you and to prioritize healing by listening to yourself.
Depending on your specific tragedy, you might find healing through therapy or a myriad of other alternative healing modalities. Intense grief can shut us down, but I encourage you to practice staying open and asking questions from others who have had similar experiences.
Remember that your loved ones and friends want to support you, and a key aspect of healing grief is staying present with your needs. If you’re feeling sad and overwhelmed, reach out — get connected, practice vulnerable conversation, join a support group… or, if you need some space to process, give yourself the grace to do that.
Even though your grief is uniquely yours, the journey is not meant to be endured alone. As Ram Dass said, we are all just walking each other home. Letting others show up for you is the beginning of reconnecting to joy in the present.
How do you grieve the familial dynamic you never had? As a child of divorce, I now see both sides of my parents story, but still feel like I’m grieving.
The lingering grief often connected to being the child of divorce can be healed through opening (or deepening) the conversation with your inner child. Some of the most rewarding work we do as adults is to learn the art of reparenting our inner child.
If this is new work for you, I encourage you to start by simply exploring the needs you had then and the needs that are still not getting met now. Do you remember the moment you heard that your parents were getting divorced? Or, perhaps, well before that, what did you see, hear, and feel living with two people who didn’t want to be together? Can you recall a moment when you shut down as a result of this consistent trauma?
Breathe and bring your hands to your heart. Remember that you are here, safe, and whole in this moment.
Reparenting is a process that involves going back to those parts of ourselves that are stuck in the pain of the past, and then, with love and compassion, bringing those parts of ourselves into the wholeness of the present.
If you are deepening this dialogue, I encourage you to get an object that represents your inner child and allow that to symbolize your ongoing healing conversation. Place this object on your altar or in your car — a place of visibility that creates conscious dialogue. Let it be easy. Ask yourself what you needed then? What do you need now? Perhaps it was protection or safety, gentleness or quiet. Whatever you needed, speak to it and begin offering this to yourself more.
If you have siblings, check in with them, but don’t compare your process to theirs. Remember, your grief is as unique as a fingerprint.
A strong heart remains soft despite the pain we endure, while the concentric circles of healing expand to our inner child.
Get quiet, listen, and heal. Our inner children are there to guide us back into the truth of our hearts.