Saturday, August 21, 2010

Letting Go Is Hard To Do

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You can't leave a place you've never been. If  you don't allow yourself to visit and even waller in your sadness and grief you won't be able to heal and move on. Relationships are the cradle of pleasure and pain. It's part of the human condition. Easy to enter and hard to leave. Strageties for healing include emotional release like crying and physical  release like exercise help.  Meditation and calming  your mind using relaxation is also  useful. Getting into a nature setting helps to reset your inner tranquility and settle emotions run wild. It's important to heal the old wounds before you start over, but don't let the old ones become scars that cannot be penetrated by starting over. Trust and love yourself. Only then can you open yourself to love another.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Grief

People have asked my why I am interested in healing grief. I know why. I've had several losses both by death, divorce and separation.  The emotional pain that followed was a mystery. In fact, I just felt terrible, sad, depressed, helpless, hopeless, anger, relief and so many confusing emotions.

When I was 23 years old my father killed himself, I had two miscarriages, my baby daughter...Mary Margaret died just two days after her early birth. I lost two sisters, and my youngest brother committed suicide at 45 years old, the same age that  my father was when he died. My mother suffered from emphema for several years before her death in 1981, and I got divorced in 1971.

No one consoled me or explained that I wouldn't feel devastated forever. I was expected to go back to work and get on with my life, crying and even talking about my pain wasn't an option. No one knew what to  say to me or do to ease my suffering, neither did I. So I just stuffed it inside.

It took me 15 years to accept and deal with my father's death. It was so confusing and painful that I couldn't get close to it. I felt that I had so many uncried tears, that if I ever started to cry I would never stop, just become a puddle on the floor. Gone! As  the losses piled up I began to have anxiety attacks and felt depressed.

The grief , confusion and overwhelming emotions after my divorce sent me over the edge. My stress level was over the top. I had severe anxiety  and panic attacks. Finally a friend took me to a therapist. When I told him my story he declared that I was going to be okay. The situatuion I was facing was so personally distrubing that my reaction was not unusual.  That helped me to be open to beginning to heal.

It wasn't easy and it was a long process. Healing is a process. There is no right or wrong way to do it. We are all unique in our emotional lives, the relationship is important, the timing and circumstances of the loss is another factor. My journey was often painful. I had to look into the past and relive events and relationships that I thought I had buried. Buried but not healed. There were old wounds just festering below the surface, ready to break open to hurt me at the next stress overload or loss. I had to heal each one separately.

As I healed myself I finally realized that I was not unique and many other people were in the same boat. When I began private practice I could relate to unresolved grief and was able to consol those in grief and help them to realize that feeling are fluid and change. Facing the pain, letting it in, talking about it, crying and using other personal ways to heal are so important.

There is like after grief and loss. The unexpected benefit is the compassion you will feel for others who are grieving.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Saying Goodbye

This is hard for me. I tend to want to hold on. I like to keep old friends, relatives and loved ones close. Sometimes we don't get a chance to say good-bye like when someone we love dies especailly if the death is sudden and unexpected. This can be a great source of pain, dreams and re-living of the last encounter with that person over-and over. It is particularily painful if the last contact was in anger or ended without resolution. My mother often told me to never go to bed angry or leave without saying I LOVE YOU. But when this doesn't happen it complicated the grieving process.

Saying goodbye after the fact is harder but can be done. The most effective way is by writing a letter and saying now what you would have liked to say then. It is more powerful if you read the letter out loud to another person you trust. A therapist is best because she/he can help you work through any remaining unresolved grief.

There are other effective rituals, for saying goodbye like releasing a helium filled baloon to the sky. You can put a message inside or tie something to the string. It is powerful for a family to do this together. Going to the grave site or where the ashes are held or released and bringing flowers. or even having a picnic can be healing.

Be creative. I worked with a ten-year-old boy whose parents were divorced and his father was killed in an automobile crash. He was depressed, doing badly in school, and having nightmares. He felt abandoned and hurt because he didn't get a chance to say goodbye. I suggested he make a cross for his fathers grave. His step-father helped him, he did it with great love and even painted it white. When it was ready, and he was ready we took it to the cemetery his mother and step -father joined us. He put it on his fathers grave, said goodbye and we had lemonade and cookies to celebrate his love for and release of his father.

More information in my book Letting Go With Love: The Grieving Process

Friday, October 2, 2009

The sad and tragic disappearance of a loved one into Altzheimers

I got a lovely card from a friend today and want to share it with you. Her experience is sadly common for many families.
Carol wrote :
You made my birthday most enjoyable. I cared for my husband for 10 years as he slowly slid into Alzheimers disease and the last two were so difficult I try not to recall them. I was up night and day but I wouldn't part with him until I almost died myself--so the last two months he was in a wonderful care center. I never have any regrets or doubts of my devotion to him and your book is so correct saying that at the end the care giver must face years of exhaustion and truly needs comforting and support from family. I found myself terribly alone and my children too absorbed in their own lives to help or care or realize how much I needed and loved them. Thank you for your loving gift. Carol

See the Chapter on Caregiving in Letting Go With Love: The Grieving Process at www.lamariposapress,com