The Deeper the Loss the Deeper the Pain

 

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In my journey through grief I stumbled upon a great article that really defines our journey through the mourning process— taking us somehow from dark to light.

Tons of therapy helps of course– but embracing the pain and pushing through it is how we grow.

I miss my mother everyday.

Everyday.

But I know that she would want me to thrive.

I’m still trying.

Please read ahead:

Adversity is of value because it often helps us grow more mature. How does this work?

Human psychology is concerned, at heart, with loss and the threat of loss. So it begins with desire, and with the consequent forming of attachments to all manner of people and things: to places, wealth, objects, activities, ideas (including political and religious ideas); to anything under the sun.

The converse of desire is aversion. They go together. If you like something, you are averse to losing it. If you dislike something, you desire its absence. Likes and dislikes are part of being human. No-one avoids desires and attachments, or the painful emotional consequences. However, we can learn to manage them wisely. It helps a great deal to understand the process, as follows.

Let’s say you own a costly diamond, and keep it locked away. Your desire for the precious gemstone and attachment to it naturally spark the emotions of anxiety and doubt. You have heard that thieves are operating in the area, and are uncertain, possibly to the point of bewilderment, about how best to protect your possession.

Anxiety, bewilderment and doubt are the first emotional responses to the threat of loss. As threat intensifies (when, say, attempts are made to break in and steal the jewel), angercommonly arises. Your security is threatened. Your people are threatened. Your ideas about yourself and the world may feel threatened too. Defiance, resistance to loss, gives birth to these feelings of anger.

Eventually, your defences are breached. Let’s say the theft actually takes place. Anger persists for a time as the reality and extent of the loss sinks in. Feeling responsible; that you could and should have done more to prevent the intrusion, for example; you begin to experience the emotions of shame and guilt. Finally, in full face of the loss, realization dawns upon you. When forced to accept the reality of it, with nothing left to do to reverse the situation, nothing left to say to justify it, only sadness remains.

Playing the Musical Scales

These painful emotions are linked. Like the colours in a rainbow or the notes of a musical scale, they set each other off. Happily, this is not the end of the story.Grieving is a process that eventually leads not only to healing but also to personal growth. Each painful emotion is related to a pain-free counterpart, as follows:

 

Spectrum of Painful and Pain-free Emotions

Wanting (desire) – Contentment

Bewilderment – Clarity

Anxiety – Calm

Doubt – Confidence

Anger – Acceptance

Shame – Worth (self-esteem)

Guilt – Innocence (purity)

Sadness – Happiness (joy)

Real sadness is accompanied by tears, by weeping. This liberates emotional energy that was previously invested in attachment to whatever has been lost. An emotional cleansing (‘catharsis’) occurs, and results in a renewal of energy. With this natural and healthy re-charging of the emotional batteries, sadness turns spontaneously into its polar opposite,joy. Guilt and shame revert in a similar way to self-esteem and a sense of purity. Anger likewise switches over from resistance towards acceptance. Anxiety becomes calm. Doubts fade, leaving a sense of certainty. Bewilderment evaporates, leaving clarity. Finally, with full acceptance of the loss, desire is replaced by contentment. Calm, joyful satisfaction is felt with things just as they are… Until desire and aversion take hold once again!

We go through this sequence towards catharsis, healing and growth frequently, in small things and on the grand scale, whenever threats and losses are experienced and weathered. The emotional release, as the process resolves, leaves us more alive, more spontaneous, less fearful, and better able to stay clearly focused in the present moment.Personal growth like this is usually permanent and cumulative. We continue to build our strengths and our virtues. It may feel like it sometimes, but we are not designed to go backwards.

For those already mature enough to let go easily of their attachments, happiness arises with, or even ahead of sorrow; so laughter works to unlock the emotions as well as, or even better than, tears. The mental clarity associated with such emotional healing fosterswisdom and creativity. Other people, no longer experienced as competitors, are now seen as fellow strugglers and sufferers on life’s difficult path. This insight then fosters a rise in fellow-feeling, selflessness, compassion, wisdom and love. When someone faces and accepts a loss, and weathers the emotional whirlwind that follows until calm is once again restored, everybody benefits. That’s what I call maturity!

Emotional healing and spiritual growth

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/spiritual-wisdom-secular-times/201208/emotional-healing-and-personal-growth-spirituality

 

 

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Christmas. Alone.

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The last time I saw my brother he said he was there for me.

That I always have a room at his house.

That he is on my side.

The day before I left, he told me to take my stuff out of his house.

Because things have changed. He and his wife are having a baby.

 

He knew this before he made claims of being there for me.

I know a baby means change, but the baby was only eight weeks in.

I’m happy for him, I guess.

In many ways I don’t care anymore.

I’m okay with that too. Maybe I should care more. But I don’t.

No one needs to seek abuse.

 

In this journey you realize you are alone and somehow have to be okay with it.

There is a shift happening inside me, where I am okay in this loneliness.

Sometimes I’m not.

But I’m more okay than not, right now.

I still cry over all this loss. But that’s okay too.

At least I feel.

 

Mom.

Step-dad.

Dad.

Brother.

All lost. All gone.

 

I have to take care of me, because no one else will.

And as much as this hurts.

It’s okay. I’m okay. I have to believe that.

As I go on to create my own tribe, I stand alone.

But my tribe is my choice.

 

Christmas has changed forever.

But I’m okay.

 

Is this a Visitation Dream?

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Sometimes, when I am desperate to speak to my mother.

When I need advice, or am stuck on something I’ll ask her out loud—I tend to do this when I am alone— to come talk to me in my dreams, so I can consult with her.

 

Most recently, it was over what I should do with my mom’s house. The house I grew up in.

 

The question: “Mom. Should I rescue the house we grew up in from foreclosure?” — Then I waited later that night to dream.

 

How the “yes” and “no” of this will impact me:

 

  • If, “yes”, then that means I’ll have to take out a huge home loan to repair it, so I can rent it or sell it.

 

  • If, “no”, — then we lose it completely and have to pay back taxes on it or sue our dad.

 

In the dream, I was with my mom. Painting the walls of our childhood home. Loving the house and getting it ready for rental. For some reason we decided to paint the walls a chocolate brown, and after we painted it, we didn’t like the result. At the same time we both said, “Why don’t we try a gold overlay?” And we laughed because we had the same thought.

 

Then the dream morphed, into different scenarios, not related to the house. In one case, I was driving a truck along a cliff, and she was my co-pilot. I began to steer in the wrong direction—and she corrected my path.

Or if these are merely dreams?

Do any of you have experiences like these?

 

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Build Again

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Early in my grief process, I didn’t know what to expect.

How do you move on when you get that late night call, put in the most indelicate way, that your mother is gone?

I was living in California and my mother lived in Texas and I’ll never forget that plane ride home.  It’s horrific to know that what you’re flying into is not just the death of your mother, but the realization that you never said, “goodbye”.

I didn’t hug her the last time she dropped me at the airport, as usual, I was in a hurry and “had to make that plane”.  I felt I would hug her the following week, since I had to go back to Texas to conduct a seminar, but that trip was cancelled.

I never made it back in time.

I always hugged my mom, but, sadly, not that last time.

I no longer regret it, I just accept it, as part of the sadness.

During this time, I began my research on grief– asking questions like “how long does it last”, “what should I expect”, “will this pain go deeper”, well, as we all know, the only way to experience grief is to go through it, but I did find some comfort in the following passage by Rachel Naomi, which I reread from time to time and will share again:

“Every great loss demands that we choose life again.  We need to grieve in order to do this.  The pain we have not grieved over will always stand between us and life.  When we don’t grieve, a part of us becomes caught in the past like Lot’s wife who, because she looked back, was turned into a pillar of salt.  Grieving is not about forgetting.  Grieving allows us to heal, to remember with love rather than pain.  It is a sorting process.  One by one you let go of the things that are gone and you mourn for them.  One by one you take hold of the things that have become a part of who you are and build again.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen

I now understand this sorting process, but it takes a long time to get there, and I’m still not done.