Over the years, Nancy and I have become aware that being stuck in grief is a problem for most of the people coming to us for grief support work. When a griever comes to us, they are acknowledging that there is a blockage. This blockage prevents them from the healing part of the journey that accompanies the loss. For me, that blockage was my own ignorance of what grief was.
How was I to treat the pain that I was suffering through?
In previous posts, I have mentioned that I had a compartment that I call “the Box” to put all of the grief and pain that I felt after our daughter, Leah died. Into this box, I poured feelings of all the things that I didn’t want to acknowledge. All the birthdays, holidays, and celebrations including the graduations, weddings, child births that were never going to happen. These are the emotions that I could not afford to feel. I closed the lid on the box and made sure that I stood on the cover as I tied, taped and hermetically sealed it.
I could not deal with feelings and emotions at the time.
I had work to do and a family to provide for. I learned the hard way about the myths of grief, that I had to be strong, stoic, and shoulder the burden. I thought that the “Box O’Grief” was better on the top shelf of my mental closet and I made sure that the door to this compartment was locked until “I had the time” to reflect. In my mind, I would do this alone in my own time and lick my wounds where no-one could see.
I was stuck and didn’t know it. Stuck with those many myths of grief and had no honest way of facing my feelings about her death. I had attempted to rally and carry on. I tried to be pragmatic, go back to work and to my “normal” life. What I realized was that there was no going back. I admit that at this point I slipped and began the tumble down the slippery slope. I had no-one to talk to because I had isolated myself. I had a hard time of it at work because I could not concentrate or make decisions. I lost interest in many things and I sat in front of the television, drank too much and played video games to numb feeling.
How do you begin to move towards healing?
What can you do when you understand that you are stuck and blocked from feeling? Is there a path forward? Realize that you may be on the hamster wheel, spinning in old stories of “What if” and “If Only”. Understand that you are responsible for these thoughts.
Your mindset and what you focus on can change. How?
I went to my closet, opened my box and began to see that I owned this grief. It wasn’t someone else’s fault. If I didn’t dig in and start sorting it out, then I wouldn’t begin to be able to heal and to start feeling again. Much of the work that I do with the Grief Recovery Method touches on these very topics. The work helped me look at my grief and my hurt in a new way. I was able to unravel and unlearn the stories I thought I knew about grief from watching my parents grieve their losses. I confronted grief and learned many new lessons. It is my invitation to you to begin your recovery journey. Seek the resources that will help you get off your hamster wheel and into a new mindset.
It is possible, I did it!