In her decades of experience in assisting clients through the grief process, Paula Shaw has found that there are specific elements along the loss path that need to be addressed and worked through as they arise. These are things that will often make one feel as if they are all alone in their journey or on an island of endless despair. This in fact the opposite of what is actually taking place. Grief follows a similar pathway for many, and you are most definitely not alone or 'crazy' in feeling the way that you do.
There are several aspects of the grief journey that are important to recognize. As with the dimensions of grief, not all of these aspects will be experienced by everyone. However, when experienced, they are destabilizing and frightening enough to make the griever wonder if he or she is going “crazy.” Therefore, I feel it is important to know what is possible, so that if it occurs, it will not produce fear and shame.
It is very common to have difficulty remembering what day or time of day it is. You may not be able to easily pull up what month or year it is. Sometimes there is confusion regarding past and future. As disconcerting as this may be, it is a normal occurrence. A preoccupied mind has difficulty holding onto details. Time distortion is a temporary condition, but can still cause people to feel that they are “going crazy.”
OBSESSIVE REVIEW OR RUMINATING
Obsessive review is the psychological term for needing to tell your story over and over again. This is an important part of the healing process. Telling the details of the loss over and over, helps bring the heart and the head together. During your grief journey, you may need to review the memories of the relationship, as well as the circumstances surrounding the loss, many times. Don’t get angry with yourself if you can’t seem to stop talking about your loss. It’s far healthier to confront and talk about the pain, than it is to try to push it out of your mind. Be easy on yourself, and find safe people who won’t mind if you need to tell the story repeatedly.
SEARCH FOR MEANING
This refers to the need to ask the “Why?” questions. “Why me?” “Why now?” “Why would such a horrible thing happen?” It is normal to try to make sense out of why something happened. There may not be any easy answers, but the questions still burn to be asked. Allow yourself to search for meaning. It is one of the ways we grow spiritually during a grief experience. During this aspect of your grief experience, you may find yourself angry at God or feeling spiritually stagnated. Don’t prohibit yourself from feeling the feelings or asking the questions that you need to ask before acceptance can come. One of the best pieces of literature ever written about this period of grief was “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis. It is the publication of the personal journal he kept in the period of time following the death of his beloved wife, Joy. People may try to discourage you from pursuing your search for meaning. Some will try to give you fast, pat answers. You don’t have to accept this. If you can find a safe person who will listen and be supportive without the need to provide answers, this can become a time to explore your religious and spiritual values, question your philosophy of life and renew your resources for living.
These are objects that either belonged to the person lost, or were given to you by them. They are objects invested with meaning and they can be very comforting in the days following a loss. These possessions can help you feel connected to the person who is gone, while you work through the difficult task of accepting the loss. Too many people make the mistake of getting rid of the familiar objects too soon. It is important to embrace the comfort they give you while you need them. When you are ready to let them go, you will know. Some things you may want to keep always. There is nothing wrong with this as long as it doesn’t become ‘enshrinement’. This is the term that describes the circumstances when someone keeps everything just as it was long after the loss has occurred. This inability to deal with reality doesn’t help the healing. Enshrinement is very different from keeping a few treasured objects, representative of the relationship, which is no longer a part of your life.
Take a moment to reflect on a grief journey of your own and see which of these dimensions you may have experienced. They will be discussed in even more depth in my soon to be released book, When Will This Pain Ever End? Meanwhile, be sure to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss further excerpts and helpful tips on moving beyond your grief.
PAULA SHAW, CADC, DCEP is an author, Energy Psychology specialist, therapist, speaker, Reiki Master and Grief Counselor. For more than 20 years, Paula has been passionate about empowering people who are dealing with profound loss, so they can reap something truly beautiful from their pain. She also helps clients who are going through major life transitions or seeking freedom from self-destructive addictions. She has degrees in Education and Communications from Long Beach State University, as well as graduate counseling credentials from Loyola Marymount University. She is one of the founding members of the Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology and currently serves on its board of directors. Paula is the auther of Chakras, the Magnificent Seven (2002), as well as the upcoming book When Will This Pain Ever End? Finding Your Way out of the Pit of Despair after Suffering Profound Grief and Loss, which will be released in the spring of 2015.
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PAULA SHAW, CADC, DCEP is an author, Energy Psychology specialist, therapist, speaker, Reiki Master and Grief Counselor. For more than 20 years, Paula has been passionate about empowering people who are dealing with profound loss, so they can reap something truly beautiful from their pain. She also helps clients who are going through major life transitions or seeking freedom from self-destructive addictions. She has degrees in Education and Communications from Long Beach State University, as well as graduate counseling credentials from Loyola Marymount University. She is one of the founding members of the Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology and currently serves on its board of directors. Paula is the author of Chakras, the Magnificent Seven (2002), as well as "Grief...When Will This Pain Ever End?" Finding Your Way out of the Pit of Despair After Profound Loss.
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Thank you for reading Paula's Blog. Because our site moved in June, we were unable to transfer all of our blog posts over. You can however, read the rest of them by visiting our old blog site. HERE