I just read a lovely chapter in my grief book where the author (himself a survivor of grief and now a life coach) recommended moving towards, embracing or connecting with our grief.. He spoke first of his own experience with his two boys who also lost their Mom and how at anniversaries and birthdays they make a point of actively remembering, feeling the loss as well as talking about her. He also shared the experience of a client, called Kevin who found coping with the death of his mother difficult and painful, to use his own words for Kevin his grief felt like…’wearing a lead overcoat he could not take off.’ When Jeff Braizer asked Kevin to experiment with moving towards his grief, Kevin was, like many of us, resistant at first, but over time he found when he treated grief like a guest and allowed himself time to experience the waves of feelings over time things improved, his grief felt smaller and more manageable and he began to experience both healing and surrender…
This way of embracing feelings by moving towards them was also on my mind reading through the same chapter of Tian Dayton’s I shared from in my blog yesterday on healing multi-generational trauma, in which she speaks of the healing that can come when we embrace painful feelings in our inner world, and learn, in no longer running, that we can survive them.. The excerpt in question is below:
All too often we think of grief as a collapsing into rather than a surrender. But standing by – holding the inner experience, honoring the depth of pain and loss – is an expression of love and respect for self and others.. The adult self allows the child self to cry fully, to be hurt and angry, to feel despair, confusion and disorientation which the adult witnesses. The gifts that this provides are obvious. We get to know ourselves; we allos our vulnerable sides to live, breathe and feel; we integrate the pain of grief into the self system rather than flash freezing it, giving it psychic storage space but no voice or breath. In addition, as the adult self witnesses the volatile experience of the child self, that inner world is demystified. The adult observes and thinks, develops insights and heightens awareness about the inner child self and (its) emotional world. Only then is the adult self in a position to guide and sustain the child self – not crush or ignore but embrace and lead. .. in truth the inner world is complex and full of differing aspects that co-relate in creating the whole. Someone needs to be in the driver’s seat, to organize the whole, and that someone is the adult self. It is this relationship the leads to inner contentment.
She goes on to remind us how we can internalise a new way of parenting that are less repressive, critical and controlling of feeling as well as defended against vulnerability. Similarly for Kevin when he allowed his feelings of grief air time he felt more in control of the process, not as overwhelmed by his grief, he could also see the wisdom in allowing himself to feel it, rather than run, resent, hide, resist or avoid.
In that chapter of his book Jeff Brazier has this to say about the connection between grief and love which also goes for the love we show the child self from the adult when we allow old hurts, injuries, losses or grief to be felt.
I read somewhere that grief is just love..It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspoken love gathers in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat and in the hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go. Not so scary – emotional, but certainly not an unscalable mountain. .. The unknown is never what we assume it is going to be.
Post script : The two quotes above are taken from the following books :
Heartwounds : The Impact of Unresolved Trauma and Grief on Relationships, by Tian Dayton
The Grief Survival Guide : How To Navigate Loss and All that Comes with It, by Jeff Braizer