Yeah even a short while ago such an idea might have triggered me too. But lately I am seeing the wisdom in it, in fact I am seeing how my refusal to let go at times made moving on even harder, that said if people around me had been a happier to let me have my process at times it would have made things easier. That said I also see where the tendency to bite down hard on my pain and feelings of insufficiency and loss has not allowed me to see a brighter side or the life waiting on the other side of loss and grief. And yes, true at times there was so much going down both in my family and in me it seemed like there was no bright side and little precious support in what I would call a very emotionally detached family. Being sent away after my father died and not having avenues to process that loss also did not help me which meant that basically all the feelings got trapped inside of me over the next 8 years of active addiction, taking another 6 to begin to rise to the surface. However as I regard this time now, I see that maybe part of me was threatened by my feelings and scared of opening up and reaching for support and also a deeper part of me had no words for anything feeling wise and could not quite begin to trust or hope in the safety of a life beyond all the trauma I saw go down over many many years. In short I just lacked the insight and tools to move on and ended up getting very stuck in my unresolved grief.
My therapist has kept assuring me over the past 2 years of therapy that in time I will be able to find what she calls ‘my sea legs’. I think being able to have that long drive and afternoon with my sis last week was testament to that. I noticed before picking her up I had less anxiety than normal. I also didn’t cry as much while still being in touch with feelings, while not overpowered by them.
I am always buying books as you know and I came across the most wonderful book from a lady who lost her husband in his mid 30s called, Christina Rasmussen. I find it a very helpful book as far as grief is concerned because it comes from her hard won experience of struggling to move forward, while grieving without letting what she calls the “Infinite Loop of Loss” completely absorb her. She now helps others to move through their grief by conducting workshops in which she encourages them to become mindful of the thoughts and feelings that accompany their earliest waking in the aftermath of loss. I will not go into the techniques in the book in detail, if you are interested the title of the book is Second Firsts : A Step by Step Guide to Life After Loss and I am not meaning to imply with this post that there is one easy ‘one method fits all’ path through grief because everyone handles their grief in their own way in wake of loss. However my experience is that unresolved grief can muck up our present chances at connection and happiness when it bleeds into the present and isn’t fully acknowledged, understood, felt and released.
Christina encourages her clients to take a good look at some of the repetitive thoughts and ruminations that accompany their grief and make attempts to challenge, change and release them, just as she found she had to do in the wake of her own loss. I can understand when it is a partner you have lost rather than a parent or sibling this may feel very very hard to do, but it is not impossible and it does not mean to imply that your loss will not still be deep just that it won’t continue to prevent you from living your life with moments of peace and looking for and creating moments of present happiness.
I will end this post with an extract from Christina’s book. You may find it helpful if you are dealing with loss and still feel you need help reconciling with it.
Message in a Bottle
Your grief is not here to end your life and destroy your soul, but to bring you back to life. Your grief is not here to punish you, but to teach you how to live. It’s here to set you free.
Grief is actually sitting next to your life. The two of them are close friends who are talking about you and all other grieving people in the world. Life complains that it does not get enough attention as grief, and grief says “Be patient, dear they will come to you when they are ready to leap to higher ground, when they feel they can let go of me and trust you again. When they were with you, they got hurt, so do you really just expect them to bounce back and come running to you?”
Life then turns around to grief, stands up with a smile and says, “My dear grief, do you know who you are talking to? I am life. I am the essence of the world. I am medicine for the sick and air for the lungs of the broken hearted souls. If they knew life was right here waiting for them, they would never turn away from me.”
So I am here to ask you this question: If you knew your life was sitting right next to your grief, wouldn’t you grab it by the hand and go live it once again?
Having felt grief, you will find that your heart is able to feel gratitude for even the simplest happy moments. Your soul now possess the wisdom to understand the depth of what those moments mean to you. I promise if you will only open the door again to believe that life is yours for the taking, life will lead you on a journey that would never have been possible before. Remember the Infinite Loop of Loss will want to keep looping, and it is your responsibility to keep asking yourself (the questions that free you from what is holding you back which she outlines in the book) and validating yourself in the process. The important thing to remember is to stay present and aware while talking to your grief when it needs acknowledgement and having the Watcher (or witness/mindfulness consciousness) help you find the truth.