Some people may not realise that attachments endure and that some losses are so big and so painful that one can never get to a place where grief has ended. The pressure for people to get over grief seems to be based on a very simple view of what loss is.
I was lucky enough to come across the following quote in a lovely thesis on sibling loss that was given to me by a counsellor last year, following the loss of my eldest sister Judith.
I am encouraged to share it today as I had an encounter with my mother where I was trying to address old hurts and losses over grief that could not be expressed only to be told. “For God’s sake aren’t you over that by now. Do you think you are the only one that suffers? I can tell you I have been through so many painful things and I just had to “get over it”.” That is pretty much verbatim.
I won’t write here what I kindly tried to say to my Mum. Not having a grief acknowledged or feeling there was a place of safety to feel it has been a recurring theme for me and hurt me so many times that to be honest I am beginning to feel a bit stupid for not getting the message sooner.
Its not that I want to stay mired in the muck of past injuries. But at times I feel we just need to be told “ouch, that must have really hurt”, when our pain is acknowledged and accepted the pain is soothed, not amplified more.
In fact in the last post I was sharing some insights from a book on the emotionally absent mother into the functions of a good mother. This mother shows a sad face when the child is sad, if this happens often the child will move through the feeling and it will pass. They wont have to stay stuck in it endlessly repeating it over and over.
This probably applies to certain injuries that are minor. In the case of larger losses we are in different territory.
Some losses are very big. I know some of those losses, there are some injuries and losses that are so deep they never get fully repaired and they will leave wounds and scars. That is a deep emotional truth, but not one my mother can acknowledge.
One thing I will share, when I challenged my Mum this afternoon about the moving on and letting go refrain she cried very deeply. I could feel like an ogre for trying to burst her bubble. It may be a bubble she is very comfortable living inside. It may have been best not to even try to argue. But such a thing doesn’t come naturally to me with Uranus and Pluto in my first house.
It seems essential to our mental and emotional health that we find a way to acknowledge the truth of what our soul suffers. Too much madness seems to result from denial of the reality.
There is a beautiful book by the Vietnamese monk Thich Knat Hahn on healing anger in which he shows a method of cooling the burning sting of hurt and anger through acknowledging the suffering of other and showing our compassion toward it.
This reminds me of the Enkies in Babylonian mythology, those little mourners who the Queen of the upper world, Innana sends down to comfort her sister Erishkegal who suffers from deeply dark and painful emotions of grief and loss in the underworld. These sufferings are so strong they impale Innana to the wall when she goes down to visit a sister who grows angrier at not having the truth of her suffering acknowleged. The Enkies are the mourners who Innana asks to come to her aid if she gone more than three days. They sit with the suffering queen Erishkegal and help her to move through her loss. In this way Innana is freed from being impaled on a peg on the wall. Frozen grief can solidify in the body and damn up parts of our anatomy, that is my experience and what current neurobiology shows. Such trauma or pain is not easily got over. Suggesting it is, is doubly traumatising.
There is something deeply transformative about deep losses we are allowed to express. They take us into territory which sears our soul and brands it with a new scar which is both wound and blessing. The measure of our grief is the measure of our loss, of our attachment. We would not willingly have chosen this kind of burning and yet we must suffer it, in order to enlarge and deepen our understanding.
I know my Mum has known much suffering in her life. Maybe its she who is needing validation at the moment. Maybe she needs a visit by the Enkies, too.
For now I’m letting go of my frustrations around the “get over it” comment of my Mum. Its just her opinion. I had hoped to mourn so much together. To have a place to share the pain. That hope must die now and I need to acknowledge that hurts. As it leaves me alone, it returns me to me. And pushes me towards others who do understand that some losses and events are so huge that they forever brand our souls. Deeply and profoundly.
4 thoughts on “You’ll “get over it”. Really?”
Being told to “get over it” invalidates a person. It tells you that you’re a whiny complainer who really has nothing to complain about. It is important to have our little hurts recognized and validated so that they don’t grow into big hurts.
Thanks for validating my perceptions, Lynette. It has taken me some time to understand what invalidation abuse is. Your comments also helped to clarify that. ❤
I think I understand what you mean here. I think that the disconnect is rooted in the emotional numbing characteristic of trauma survivors. In my case any emotional arousal automatically results in numbing. It can take years for a trauma survivor to process a grief reaction. It can also take years for a trauma survivor to process intensely positive emotion as well. The problem with the way we interact with the idea of the mind is that we seem to think that the experience of our own minds makes us qualified to judge what is and is not normal in other people.
That is so true….its something I have only learned late in life. Feelings just are…personal to us and others not to be argued with, rationalised or reasoned away. If we can accept a feeling or anothers feeling that gives it space to be to flow and often release…numbing means its frozen…and painful to face…so it may take time and much healing to allow the numbness to gather energy within it and emerge…we need a ground of safety for this esoecially if our trauma was of the invalidating variety.