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.

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