“When God closes a door, he always opens a window…but it’s Hell in the Hallway!”
When I first saw this cartoon in a magazine, it seemed like the perfect metaphor for the grief experience. The torrential energy of loss, more accurately, slams the door closed and shatters our hearts. Most of us don’t really know what hit us at first, and we are in so much pain, that believing that there might be an open window of hope somewhere wouldn’t even occur to us. We just damn the bad luck that closed the door, we cry, we kick and scream, we get sad, anxious and depressed, but we don’t fully comprehend that the agony we’re experiencing is grief, resulting from the loss we have just suffered. We know we’re hurting but we don’t really understand what happened.
Today is Memorial Day, a day to commemorate the deaths, of those who died in active military service. What an appropriate day to be discussing the shock, and upheaval of a metaphorical door slamming and life being changed forever. Imagine having a loved one in military service and opening your door to see men in uniform, with a telegram in hand, bearing the tragic news that someone you love is gone from this earth. Millions of people have had to endure this kind of agonizing experience. That is a big part of what we honor today but the reality of what that experience has been to so many, is really gut wrenching. It truly is like a door slamming on your hopes and dreams, and life, as you know it. The shock and horror are almost dizzying to think about and the sad, sad truth is that most of us haven’t the faintest idea what to do.
We just keep staring at the closed door in disbelief, blaming it for the devastating emotional state we are in. We obsess on the details of the events that closed the door rather than realizing what that closed door really means to us. As a result, we get stuck in the role of victim, blaming the door, and we will remain stuck until we get to the core of what has really happened… A loss has occurred and we are deluged in the heaviness of its energy. It has rendered us grievers. Griever is a heavy word. It’s hard to own. As a result even when grief has us firmly in its grip…we do not like to call ourselves grievers. We hate it; nobody wants to feel the debilitating pain of grief, so we do whatever we can to keep our minds busy…and that doesn’t help us heal. What we really need to do is feel what we are feeling and express it as authentically as possible. We need to sit in the agony but that is just too hard for most people, so we find sanctuary in busyness.
In our obsession with focusing on all the details regarding the door closing, thinking about them and talking about them over and over, we miss the opportunity to feel and truly understand what the closed door has really done to us. The reason the pain is so intense is because there are many layers to it. With every loss, we also suffer the loss of:
1. Hopes and Dreams,
Suffering loss in these three areas is devastating and that devastation produces the myriad of emotions and behaviors that we refer to as grief. What most people don’t realize is that once we are grieving we must take action if we are to heal. We think that since grief is a normal, natural part of life, we should just be able to get over it and move forward. On some level this is true but most of the time this isn’t the case because most of us aren’t just dealing with the loss in front of us. We are dealing with an accumulation of unhealed grief built up over a lifetime, which is now getting triggered by the current loss. If we actually healed each loss as it happened, this wouldn’t be the case and each isolated incident would be more grievable so to speak. But this rarely happens because most of us have no idea how to heal our grief. We just hold on by our fingernails hoping the pain will one day magically go away.
Understanding these basic truths about grief can help to lift the fog of distress and allow productive action to take place. Only then are we are able to see that what we need to do is to turn away from the door, walk through the hell of the hallway, begin the healing journey and eventually find the open window that will allow us access to a lighter, brighter, more triumphant energy through which we can re-enter life.
On this Memorial Day let’s really honor those who have been in the hallway, many of whom struggled through it, without help or tools.
What to do on that walk down the hallway is really the core of the information contained in my soon to be released book, When Will This Pain Ever End? I am so excited to finally be able to offer grieving people information and processes that will actually help them to make that walk productively.
Michael Bernard Beckwith, spiritual leader of the Agape Center in Los Angeles and author of Spiritual Liberation and Visioning Your Life, recently said of my book,
“The wisdom, compassion, and skillful practices in this book are vital friends on the journey to healing from loss and grief. A most trustworthy guide, Paula Shaw has included every aspect of befriending oneself each step of the way to transforming grief into tranquility.”
June 15th is the big day! We will be keeping you informed as we progress. Take Care and all the best to you.
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.
Former Blog Archive
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