Posted by: Judy | July 12, 2016

Different Perspective on Grief

One of the blogs I follow, Good Time Stories, posted “Coping With Grief and the Shipwrecks of Life.”

https://goodtimestories.wordpress.com/2016/07/10/coping-with-grief-and-the-shipwrecks-of-life/

Abuse survivors struggle with grief on a variety of levels. As victims, we weren’t allowed to grieve, except as given permission. We were told what to grieve, how to grieve, how long to grieve. We were never allowed to own our grief.

One of the toughest things for me to face was my own grief. I didn’t believe I had the right. After all, I should be grateful I had a roof over my head, food to eat, clothes to wear. I wasn’t a starving child in China.

Unless a performance was needed, which was a whole different level of crazy. It also needed to be grieved.

I’ll never forget my surprise when my counselor told me I’d grieve for the rest of my life the loving relationship I’d never have with my parents. Something told me I should be dismayed, horrified, angry. Instead, a wave of relief washed over me. He wasn’t telling me to work through it and get over it.

He gave me permission to accept what I already recognized. Events would occur in my life where I would be forced to face the lack of healthy parental support. This was before I made my first attempt to be published, but the idea was scratching at my brain. I had no illusions it would include a wide variety of events in my life.

He also explained that the grief would pop up at unexpected times. I would see other families and recognize what I lacked. He assured me that my grief would be healthy for the simply reason that I recognized the loss.

Bless the man who shared his perspective. It’s one I want to embrace. Here’s to facing the waves and diving in with all my heart.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing, a beautiful post about grief. I needed this. Your words always bring so much comfort to me. (((Judy)))

    • You’re most welcome. I’m grateful I’m able to help. (((rootstoblossom)))

  2. Accepting that we will need to learn how to cultivate the ability to grieve those losses over and over again throughout our lifetime, takes us one step closer to living a healthier version of life. Similarly, I remember being so incredibly (relieved? empowered? grateful?) when a wave of grief washed over me for the young girl who just wanted to know the feeling of a mother’s loving embrace, or a father’s twinkling eyes of adoration.

    It clicked for me when someone (probably one of the many therapists I worked with) had me go through a series of exercises about how I would work to protect a young girl, if I were to have been a mother to a young girl, or if maybe a young girl had been left in my charge to be raised and cared for, such as a niece or friend’s child. How I would try to make sure she felt loved and safe and adored. Then the therapist had me imagine how I would feel for the girl, if she received none of those loving things in her life. Then the therapist had me recognize and acknowledge that the little girl existed, deep within me, and how all those things I felt towards this imagined girl who had no loving support from her parents were all still very true, even though I had managed for so many years to suppress the overwhelming grief.

    That helped start the process of grieving for what was lost. First we have to recognize the loss. Then acknowledge that we can’t re-write history. Only then can we move towards experiencing the grief that would naturally occur when we observe any small child being hurt or living within a non-nurturing environment. I remember openly weeping for that frail, small girl (me) who only wanted to be loved and treated with tenderness and kindness. Once I began moving through the grief cycle, it helped me begin to heal in the overall sense. It helped me acknowledge that it was okay to feel the sorrow that this young girl would have experienced as she struggled to survive.

    For too many years, I equated “survival” with “closing down any emotions”, so it took some time to allow myself to feel anything at all, most especially grief. No one wants to voluntarily experience deeply felt sorrow, but it was exactly that ability to do so that helped put me on the path to healing.

    Every now and then, I still catch myself triggered by some sort of event or another, (such as a specific smell, or a long-forgotten sound, or some particular piece of music, etc) and I am overwhelmed by those same feelings of grief. Waves of grief wash over me, leaving me feeling somewhat raw and exposed and vulnerable.

    The difference is that now I recognize that moving through the (honest and natural) grief is a necessary process. So rather than close down all my emotions to reject the weight of the grief, I’ve chosen instead to embrace the grief, (in workable doses rather than all at once). Thanks for reminding me of that lesson. Grief is not only real, but helps us to get one step closer to living a life that is authentic – a healthier version of ourselves. 🙂

    • I just clicked on the link you included in your post, and found myself nodding, especially at the story of the older man offering his two cents about grief, and how he used the idea of “waves of grief” to demonstrate what it’s like to experience grief, over and over again, like crashing waves in a pounding sea. It’s so important, as his story demonstrated, to recognize that we will survive it. We may get a bit battered and scarred, but we will survive it.

      *thanks for sharing the link

      • You’re welcome. 🙂

    • So much to learn. So much to acknowledge. And we are. 🙂


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