Moving towards our grief and pain

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

14 thoughts on “Moving towards our grief and pain

  1. I agree so much with what you’ve shared here. Also, this Rumi quote popped into my mind as I read your post and I thought you might like it.

    “This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor…Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

      1. I’ve often resisted my emotions too. But just like you said letting them in, which I’m trying to do more now, does seem to be more helpful in the long run. It also feels more loving. In some ways I feel I am practicing loving others by being more open to my own emotions. Practicing accepting people where they are at, being present with them where they are. And for me, it seems like that has been one of the most painful emotions for me, feeling completely alone and ignored. Not sure how much good advice or help I ever really needed, I think I just needed to feel like someone was trying to see me and loved me unconditionally.

        Honestly, I can’t accept that my parents didn’t do that. Aren’t trying to interact with the real me, uncomfortable with closeness due to their own upbringings. I don’t know yet why I can’t accept this. But I feel the outlines of the truth of it, but I just can’t allow myself to feel it yet. Seems my brain wants me to believe “they did and do, you just aren’t looking at it right or open to their love”. And I tend to believe that, and maybe there is some truth in it. But still I’m starting to see a form of love now that breaks my heart, and it feels like sadness over all I never had but longed for so deeply.

      2. Its okay maybe you really need to stay angry right now to fully anchor into your own emotional reality….forgiving too soon may be counter productive right now. Just trust your raw gut process. You got this. 🌷❤

      3. Thanks for sharing this. It’s interesting when I first read your comment and you used the word anger I didn’t feel I was particularly angry. More sad about what I lost and will probably never have. But as I thought about it and observed my inner world you are right, I do think anger is tied up in my feelings but I like to ignore that emotion. It is labeled as “wrong” by a lot of the other sides of me. Thank you so much for pointing me towards reality and having faith in me.

      4. Very interesting read. I do believe anger has something to offer to us and it’s healthier to integrate it into us as opposed to suppressing and disowning our anger. Anger is a scary emotion, because it can inspire us to act outside of our values. But it doesn’t seem it inevitably has to lead us to actions outside of our values. We can figure out why it exists within us, stay in control, and harness it to work within our values.

        It’s complicated to me though. I suspect I was not allowed to assert boundaries with my parents, and when I tried they pushed back which would escalate my anger and then they would label me as harsh and mean. My parents expected perfect emotional control, kindness, compassion, communication, grace and understanding from me, and if I didn’t show that then that was why we had “issues”. I have worked my whole life and judged myself my whole life off the standard of perfection in the hopes of being loved and close to them, yet I’m only now starting to realize how little effort towards these goals they themselves work and how unfair it was to demand that of me especially when I was a child/teen.

        Sorry I tend to write so much. Don’t ever feel rushed to reply or anything. Writing this all to you helps me, and I relate a lot to you so I imagine every now and then you relate to my experience. 💕

      5. Noo PLEASE NEVER APOLOGISE.. they set that up telling you not to feel as you needed to… I rush due to the fact you inspire me so and i get so much from reading about your process. i think I went through something so similar which is probably why I relate to you so much.. and you reminded me of something very important… often I am still siding against myself too… thanks a million fold. i learn so much from you..

      6. I just wanted to add what brilliant progress you seem to be making lately. I think seeing how short our parents fell and how much that damaged the development of healthy self support is so essential. Now you are getting a handle in how hard anger is for you and that you weren’t wrong trying to express it with them I really feel you will have a big breakthrough. I just wanted to say that as I have been reading and re reading this important comment of yours over the past day.

      7. Thank you so much for sharing this. You’ve written my thoughts so clearly it helps me better understand myself. You have a real skill for expressing the complicated concisely, it allows me to grasp it all better. It also helps so much to simply feel understood. ❤️

        Awhile back you mentioned you felt I was close to a breakthrough. I hadn’t thought that before, this is all such an up and down journey, but it did ring as true when you said it. That same week in the natural flow of conversation with my Mom I actually showed up as myself and the normal dynamic played out. We argued. I haven’t gotten into a dispute like that with her since starting on this journey back to self. And it all felt like failure in myself. But during and after the emotional conversation I realized I was actually seeing it all more clearly. I was observing how she seemed to feel, how I felt inside, the words that were coming out of my mouth and popping up in my mind, how we were portraying each other and responding. Though I fell into a pit for a day or so after, even that experience and the thoughts and feeling in it I observed. I learned so much. It felt like a huge jump to me. I believe your belief in me and my journey and your expressing how I was close to a breakthrough gave me the faith in myself and this process and courage to show up in that conversation with my Mom. I think I had been avoiding being real out of fear, out of fear being real reveals me to others and myself as bad. And at first that is exactly what it felt like happened. In her eyes I became a villain when I went off the narrative that makes her feel the most comfortable. And somehow I didn’t simply know her perspective of me as bad and mean in that moment, I unconsciously adopted it and directed it at myself and felt it, and it felt terrible. But there were new eyes on the situation this time, eyes that were curiously and compassionately observing both my mom and me, my adult eyes.

        I can’t really put into words how much you’ve helped me. I’ve always felt so alone and confused and stuck. Your honest and vulnerable self expression on your blog, and the kindness and wisdom you show me in our chats allow me to feel that I’m not alone and unable to be understood. That it’s okay to be where I am, to stay where I am, but also that if I want to change in some way over time that I have the ability to do that too. It is such a loving and healing gift you’ve given me, one I’ll never forget, thank you ❤️

      8. Oh Wow.. I have had that same experience of my family seeing me as bad and then making me believe it so many times myself that I totally understand.. It literally blows me away to know I have helped you, it give me a real sense that what I do here and being so open really is my purpose and that it is helpful..Its all I really want in life is to grow as myself and help others to do so too, knowing how much being cut down kiills off a part of us so valuable and necessary..
        Bless you so much for articulating all of this… I am so glad I could help but you are the one who saw it all…and I see amazing qualities of wisdom in you, I just think, sadly your family miss out on that.. But I see you and you are wonderful.. you really made my morning.. Lots of love and hugs to you…<3

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