Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas & Grief

Christmas & Grief

At this time of year there are hundreds of articles about how to survive the holidays without my daughter.  I have found many ideas and tips that have been (and still are) helpful.  But there are still the ragged, jagged edges of my loss. The odd paradox here is that if it were about tips and tricks, I wouldn’t need them; I would just figure it out and be fine.  My particular angst at Christmas is that it feels like everyone else is celebrating under the tree with presents, good food and family, while I have to visit Sharon at the cemetery.

The feeling of protest, unfair, unjust has been enormous at times.  Part of the dilemma is who, or what exactly to be angry with. 

Because I need to celebrate with my other children, my husband and my friendships also, that internal conflict is always a factor. The protest has been intrusive some years, and subdued in others.  Going to the cemetery on a snowy Christmas day is both lonely and healing.  As the years have passed and I have moved away from her home and grave I have had to find other ways to commemorate her.  Each year is a little different, though there has been a theme all these years. I will always love her and I will always miss her.  That she is not with me and never will be is always an empty feeling.  I take out her picture and the little things she made for me over her lifetime and I remember her, then I go upstairs and enjoy the day.

What ever you are feeling right now, is the right way to be feeling because it is about you and your loss.  Remember, there ain’t no right way, there ani’t no wrong way there’s only your way.      

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What's the value in grieving?

This is one of the most common questions I am asked when I begin to work with people that have controlled their feelings all their lives.  What will I get out of this, is another way of asking.  What makes this so hard to answer is that the "pay-off" is nothing that can be seen, touched or measured.  Grieving is a dreaded experience that most people avoid at all costs.  Among the things I personally hate to do most, #1 is throwing up and #2 is grieving.  But they both serve the same purpose, to rid the body of toxins.

I often here "I see no good in feelings at all, they just mess things up";  "Nothing productive has ever come out of my feelings."   So why am I so keen on teaching people how to grieve?  Because, my experience and observation, is that the alternative is worse.  If you control vomiting, you may survive, but the recovery is much longer and, often, more painful. If people don't grieve, they spend their emotional energy on stopping the grief. Very hard to be around, very isolating.

So, the value in grieving is freedom, freedom from constant vigilance, always monitoring one's words and the physical tension it takes to not "ever go there".   It is hard to over-ride the belief that if once started, it will never end and the fear that I will be stuck there forever.   This self talk makes any "value" seem unattainable, or just fantasy.  So what I ask of my clients is a lot, to take the leap of faith that the value in grieving is healing.