Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Grief can be sneaky...

Within great finds of beauty, great moments of sun, the rain can be seen from the distance... as we watch it can come rushing toward us, so quickly that before we blink we feel it... at times pelting our skin as we look up still seeing the bluest of skies, yet feel the rain stinging our skin. Grief can take us by surprise that way; those sudden resurgences of grief in all its sting,...
Thinking this morning about grief, and the many ways grief finds its way to us. Sometimes strong and head on... and then again sometimes subtle, coming on in little ways, but there are times that grief catches us by complete surprise, "sneaky grief" at times!

Health care providers, hospice workers, mental health professionalsthose who work with patients and families are always working and walking with loss and grief issues... they are the ones that I love talking with at seminars, at keynotes. Sometimes they too "don't know what they don't know"... they are so very busy, doing more with less these days, but make no mistake, they too are warriors walking with cumulative loss and grief. Members of communities that sit with each other at kitchen tables, those called from a distance to come, after a sudden or tragic death has altered life forever, suddenly making arrangements to get in cars, on planes and be there, finding strength wherever they can to do whatever they may be called upon to do. Others may just open their mouths and stand amazed at what falls out. 

Funny how we forget, we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and grieve, love, deeply!

The morning here looks like rain the birds are singing though, but it is tricky, maybe the sun will shine, so many possibles... don't you just love that? oh my where was I... oh yes, SNEAKY GRIEF! LOL

Grief Can Be Sneaky

Let’s talk about that sly little thief of joy we call grief. It can sneak up on us when we least expect it. Someone uses an expression that was a favorite of our loved one and we suddenly find ourselves undone.We see a new dance, feel our feet moving just a certain way, and remember a time when...
We hear a favorite song, or a ballad that holds special memories and we feel tears dribbling down our cheeks. We look at a picture, or find an old shirt in the back of the closet, finding that we just have to put it on and we remember a time. We are, long after we think our grief work is done at a festive gathering and feel absolutely bereft in the wink of an eye it hits us... Alone. Surrounded by useless frivolity, now what? Where is that hole we desperately want to seek refuge in and how did it get so loud and happy around us?
 We are suddenly so sad, so utterly and absolutely isolated from everyone.
That my friends is grief at it’s finest. Yep, grief may even make us think we have “lost it altogether.
That we will never fully heal. That we will be at it’s mercy forever. Not true.

After all,  after the death of our loved one, and indeed for some undetermined time afterward, the people that know us well, and care about us, give us some time and space to honestly grieve.Well sometimes they do anyway, if not absorbed in their own pain, their own story.

But later, when even WE think we are over the hurdle, have come to terms with our loss, have found our balance and have even rediscovered some joy. When we least expect it. Just like turning our back on the incoming tide of the ocean, we feel as though we are eating sand.Ever had that happen? Afraid to talk about it? Think folks, family, friends, your therapist will think less of you... 

Not a break down, well, maybe a melt down, but we find we are right back at that awful place where our grief is somehow raw again.

Does it ever end? Yes and No.
We are never “over it”, we get through it. With time and work, we GET THROUGH IT, "who you are is not who you've been and you can't go back there again", remember reading that? We are not the same person we once were.
Loss and Grief changes us forever. BUT, although our loved one died, our relationship with them lives on forever... Hearts that are connected in life, cannot be separated in death... death is not that strong!

 It makes us wiser in some ways, but we are different now.
Our lives are changed. We have lost someone special, something treasured and irreplaceable, someone no one can or not time will ever again replace.The task is learning how to walk with that, learn to absorb it, to live differently while holding that and them into the next steps honoring their lives keeping memories alive, saying their name...
That is as it should be. Our relationships are not interchangeable.
Had we not loved, truly loved that special person in such a unique way, we would have no need to mourn them. We would simply forget them and move o

There are times when just the opposite of the sneak attack of grief rears it’s ugly head too. An anniversary or birthday approaches and we are agonizing over the impending date.
We just know it will be beyond bearable. The date arrives and we cannot this time shed a tear. 
Somehow, all the "horribe-izing" is for naught.
We fondly remember the date, our loved one, our loss, and “nothing.” No tears, no heart wrenching suffering. We sit with it. Amazed.At times it seems best to say hello to it, to honor it for what it is, to walk with it differently than ever before while realizing we will always "miss" those we have loved here in real time no matter what us helping professionals might convey about that word so hated called "closure".
Why close something that remains alive and beating within a heart differently? One closes a bank account, a door, their mouths.

Grief is tricky like that too. It’s unpredictable, and very predictable at the same time. There are times when we defy all the best of the best textbooks written, mystify it seems those in the helping professions while boggling our very own minds. It is unique, it is color blind and age defiant...

Others warn us of what to expect, and maybe it works the way they said, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Grief is not logical. Grief runs the gambit. It can be anticipatory, with a calm let down, at the time of the actual event or prior to the event that changes our life and the way we view life for the rest of our lives. It can be sudden and set us spinning, delaying grief for months or years as we are numbed to the point of feeling insane when we feel at all.

We can see ourselves pulling it off like Jackie Kennedy so long ago, and find that we have turned into a weeping, blubbering mess. It can be perceived as resolved, only to churn itself up when we least expect it.
 It is an arduous journey.
Healing is the destination, and in due time it will come.
 It will not be rushed. It may not be the way we anticipate it to be.

So what do we do. How do we get our head around this tricky, sneaky experience?

Accept that while we can impact the experience, we can not control the entire journey. Some of it we just have to roll with.
 Know that we will be surprised by our own reactions sometimes.
Accept that our hearts work at there own pace.
This is not a mind over matter issue.
It is an issue of the heart, mind, body, spirit.
It is a healing journey that paces itself. it may be best traveled with a companion, a therapist skilled in grief issues.
Once we stop trying to anticipate every reaction, stop trying to “get control” of it, and allow ourselves to adapt to it’s rhythm, we will find it settles somewhere in our heart more softly, over time.

When the time is right, and it is different for each of us, we may be able to look at that old photograph, hear that sweet special song, and smile instead of cry. We will at some point, purposely call up all our favorite memories of our loved one and bask in them

It will not happen because we insist, it may not be in any particular point in time, but it will come. When our hearts are ready, the pain will diminish. The memories will comfort us not torture us. Give yourself all the time you need.

Embrace YOU, your life one step at a time. Honor your loved one in a million ways.
Allow others to comfort you when you desire it, make time for you.
Time to do your grief work, time to heal. Know that it is a journey, and let that sneaky, perpetrator of grief do it’s thing, let sneaky grief know that you do not fear its presence, be not afraid.
At some point in time, you will feel more whole again. Ready to rejoin the spontaneity you once enjoy ~ You can have balance when grief shows up~
There is balance and mind-body-spirit connections; balance that sneaky grief with times of laughter, memories that sustain, honor memories with being the legacy and doing great things here with mindful purpose.

Walk in beauty,

1 comment:

fluff said...

Thank you Dr. Sherry for your words today. I have been having some difficult days lately. Really missing my precious and loved Mom been gone two years now. I close my eyes and can see her now and with the smile and chuckle she often had. What a love she was and so gentle and caring to all who came into her days. I often think about wishing I could pick up the phone and call her and then remember I can't. I do believe she watches over me though and knows how much I miss her. Have a tremendous day my friends.