For many people, the very word grief is off-putting. This can be for many reasons. First of all, when most people hear the word grief, they automatically think of death or divorce. However, grief is the byproduct of many other losses: moving, ending of a relationship, loss of spiritual connection or God, loss of health, loss of employment, loss of hopes, dreams or expectations- the list can go on and on. Secondly, many folks are in denial. Daily, I work with clients who think they have dealt with the loss and then we get into the recovery work only to find that they really were not ok and were living an emotional incomplete life. Worse, some never take the time to think of how things in their life impacted them so they do not seek out recovery.
Another big issue is that we are not taught how to deal with loss in our society. We are told to replace the loss, not to feel bad, grieve alone, time will heal all wounds- again the list could go on and on. As children, we are taught to tie our shoes, brush our teeth, dress ourselves but we are never taught how to handle loss. Thus, when loss occurs in our lives, we end up feeling as though we are spinning out of control, feeling stuck in the pain and sorrow and struggling to find a way to move forward in life. Sadly, many people become “healers” in their quest to help other people with their pain; however, in many cases, they have not yet dealt with their own losses.
Think about a loss that you have experienced. This loss can be one of the ones listed above or one you chose. What were some of the things you were told? How did you deal with the loss? Did you keep moving forward with no regard for how the loss may impact you now or in the future? What coping mechanisms did you develop to deal with this loss?
These questions are important to ask yourself because they are not things that we typically take time to think about. If the above questions stir something inside of you, perhaps now is the time to start to complete your recovery from grief.
Failing to complete recovery from grief can have lifelong negative effects on your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. In addition, unresolved grief can impact the way we interact with people, sabotage ourselves and relationships, and hold us back from moving forward in life.
In my grief recovery practice, I help clients rediscover their ability to transform the quality of their lives by completing a step-by-step program for moving beyond loss. The goal is to get clients to move beyond the pain caused by loss. During the program, clients will look at old beliefs about dealing with loss, look at how those losses affected their life and take new action steps which lead to completion of the pain attached to those losses.
When dealing with clients, I am presented with many other names given for grief or loss. One such word is burnout. Grievers bury themselves in work and put everyone else before themselves until they finally find themselves burnt out and unable to carry on. Another name is pressure. Clients often say they have a lot of pressure in their lives. The reality is, however, the pressure they are experiencing, typically, are those unresolved emotional changes within them which they have buried. Finally, we can call grief, stress. This is a commonly used word in our society today as everyone seems to be stressed but the reality is, stress can take its toll on our health and our bodies and in some cases, leave us ravaged and wrecked.
If you related to this article, please take a deep breath and realize that you are not broken; therefore, they do not need to be fixed. What you do need is for someone to hear you, without reservation or judgment, and for someone to relate to the loss you have experienced. You may also need someone who can show you how to take small and correct steps that lead to completing unfinished emotional business. This business could be dealing with discoveries of the things you wish they had done better, different or more. It can also deal with unrealized hopes, dreams and expectations about the future.... to name a few.
You can begin becoming emotionally complete right now by taking out a piece of paper. On this piece of paper, I want you to be honest with yourself and make a list of all the losses that could be impacting your life. Review this list. Then I want you to go back over the list and in a separate column, write down the ways in which you are dealing with your loss. In other words, what types of short-term energy relieving behaviors are you engaging in to deal with the loss? Are you over eating? Do you enjoy drugs and alcohol? Do you isolate? When folks ask, “how are you?” How do you respond? Do you answer honestly because it is the politically correct thing to do?
Review your answers and responses to the above questions. Take notice of what came up for you as you were reading this article. Then ask yourself what you can do now to become emotionally complete. The first step is recognizing what you have been doing is only short-term and not working. Then you can take steps to move toward becoming emotionally well.
Michael Misenheimer is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist© and Holistic Life Coach who maintains a private practice in Nashville, TN. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via telephone at (615) 469-0330. He works with clients locally and telephonically and would love to hear your comments about this article. His website is www.restoreharmony.org.