How To Handle Grief (Like A Stoic Emperor)
The Mastery Letter #14
When I was 17, I had a pregnant yellow lab.
She gave birth in our backyard suddenly, and I cut the umbilical cords of 8 puppies using floss and scissors.
Fast forward 15 years later, I just had to put down 2 of them in the same month.
This was a very difficult time.
In this process, I did some research on the best way to handle grief, and figured I’d share.
Research philosophical answers to life questions
I was at a crossroads of how to handle grief.
Part of me thought it was good to suppress it, avoid diving into the memory loops that causes sadness.
That there is no point in wasting time on it.
The other thought was to let it all out, and embrace the emotions, soak in the good memories and try to enjoy them
Then I realized, why not research and find what people of the past have come up with as solutions.
Grief has been around since humans have existed, this isn’t a new problem.
The stoics have a lot of a great wisdom and strategy on how to handle life problems.
Instead of figuring out a solution, I started researching and trying out different strategies on how to process and handle these snapshots in time.
Take time to research and see what smart people of the past did to handle life problems, it’s quite simple.
Dont conceal the wounds
Take it head on.
Feel into the emotion, parse it.
Stoics are often confused with suppressing their emotions, but the philosophy is intended to teach us to take on the emotions immediately rather than delay or distract ourselves.
This will only aid in the short term, as suppressing feelings will come back 10x worse.
Handle it, raw and unfiltered. Feel every emotions. Accept it for what it is.
Understand that without these grave misfortunes and tragedies, we would not appreciate the time on this planet with our loved ones.
The possibilities of tragedy and sadness create happiness and life.
It could be worse
Think about the possibilities of how the loss could have been worse.
They could have been in more pain, it could have been drawn out.
You could have not been able to see them at all.
my 2 labs lived 15 long years, especially for big dogs.
We got to have control of when we thought was the best time to let them go, based on their pain and mobility.
One was happy until his back legs gave out, the other got nose cancer.
We knew that not being able to walk or enjoy smells took away any quality of life worth living for.
Point is, they could have died on their own, in pain.
They could have been hit by a car at 7.
We were lucky.
Remember the time you had with them.
They could have never existed at all in your life.
A couple different decisions and you’d have never crossed paths and be blessed with all those emotions and experiences with them.
The stars aligned you were fortunate enough to have met them.
Feel lucky that you were blessed with the quality time, although it won’t feel like enough.
Be happy that you got to experience their life.
Remember that everyone you know could die tomorrow, and you are not entitled to them.
Everything is temporary, so set your expectations as so.
If you feel entitled to permanence of a friendship or relationship, you are setting yourself up for immense grief and are coping to avoid reality.
Treating everything as temporary is a blessing and will teach you to treat every moment as a prize.
This too shall pass
Our lives are only but a snapshot of time, moving linearly across a timeline.
There is only the present moment, a present moment of sadness, a present moment of happiness, etc.
Sadness must exist or else happiness would have no value.
Time will heal all wounds, and in another snapshot of the present, soon, you will feel back to normal.
Don’t assign a negative or positive to either, just understand that
See the blessing in hardship
There is always growth during grief, failure and challenge.
You will learn a lot about yourself fighting through the grief.
You will become more familiar and develop strategies to deal with it.
Through hardship you will become more resilient to life.
Write down your thoughts during grief. It is cathartic.
You dont have to write a newsletter, but definitely journal down your thoughts in your iPhone notes.
This is like cleaning your room.
The emotions, thoughts and ideas stack up in your brain, and you need to unload them to create bandwidth.
Thanks for reading.