With grief we can break the chain
It isn’t a surprise that we get scared of our own grief. It isn’t only painful but also very powerful. The possibility that it can offer for us is limitless. In my previous blog articles I pointed out that a completed grief can heal our wounds, enhance our self-esteem or with of help of grief we can create a new identity.
This time I will focus on its chain breaker ability, namely that it can overwrite old beliefs, patterns, orientations inherited from generation to generation that aren’t in our best interest though. Our grief that we feel after a loss provides us with numerous information if we listen to it. It tells us who we are, how we operate, where are our wounds, not just the current one. Also, it shows us where we come from and where we are heading to. It is hard to have such a close look at ourselves but without this there isn’t any change, or prosperity.
Inventory of our emotional losses
Now we can put the theory into practice. I invite you to do the following exercise. We need a pen, a piece of blank paper and complete honesty to ourselves. We place the paper horizontally on the table and draw a straight line across the center of the page. We write the year of our birth at the left end of the line then the current date on the right end of the line. Now we identify all the losses in our life starting from our first conscious memory until today and indicate them on the graph. With this exercise we bring everything up to the surface where we can look at it. Buried and forgotten losses can cause pain, so it’s better to do this exercise alone and in silence. Once we have completed our loss history graph, we try to identify the most painful loss. We draw a vertical line to each loss to establish the intensity of the loss. The longer the line, the more painful the loss.
Normal grief vs. complicated grief – what is behind
We have our full loss history graph in front of us, now we start focusing on the most painful loss with the longest vertical line. Almost always it’s a loss related to a relationship (family member, friend, colleague, romantic partner etc.). As soon as we have picked ours, we gently approach the loss and the pain and try to figure out what causes that intensity. We observe it from different angles.
Firstly, we examine if there is any undelivered emotional communication left in that relationship. Is there anything that we wanted to say to a certain person but for several reasons (death, separation etc.) we didn’t have the chance to do so. That could bother us deeply and we can get stuck in grief for a long time. I strongly believe that time doesn’t heal anything, only actions do. Time without action only escalates the struggle. Often it’s impossible to get in contact with the person we have undelivered emotional communication with. In this case it could be very healing if we found someone, a third person who is neutral for us, still we can trust in and whom we can share our emotions with. The story behind isn’t important, only the message that has never been said. In this way we release trapped emotions and after a while we will experience huge relief. It doesn’t mean that we won’t feel any grief, certainly we will. However, it will be a normal grief where the symptoms improve after a couple of months and largely resolve in about 1 to 2 years.
What happens however if we let out all our emotions we have been holding in for years, still we feel stuck with the pain. In this case we have to dig deeper. We need to determine what was the foundation of the relationship. Was it love based or fear based? How do we feel when we look back on that relationship? In the followings I try to summarize briefly the difference between the two.
Fear based relationship
- we feel the need to wear mask, we don’t want to show our true self
- we feel stressed and anxious (many times it drains us emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically and financially)
- there are a lot of ups and downs in the relationship/emotional roller-coaster
- it decreases the self-esteem
- we feel chained, the fear of rejection/abandonment is dominant in the relationship
- imbalanced, one person does most of the work, invests way more to the relationship
- it brings out the worst in us
Love based relationship
- we can show our true self and we feel accepted
- we feel peace and we are energized
- the relationship is stable, constant, uncomplicated, effortless
- it increases the self-esteem
- we feel free, but safe and sheltered from the outside world
- balanced, equal give and take
- it brings out the best in us
This list can help us to identify what was the driving force of the relationship we try to grieve and finally let go emotionally. Relationships that were built on fear, unfortunately don’t fall into the normal grief category once they end. Most of the time they will lead to complicated grief. The reason behind this isn’t necessarily the more complex emotions we have to face with, it’s more the fact that there’s a hidden core wound somewhere that was the glue in the relationship.
Relationships that were built on love doesn’t hurt us that long and so intense. Love is like a shield that protects us from pain and gives us comfort even in physical separation.
The recognition is definitely the first step towards healing. However we can’t stop here. We need to determine and grieve the core wound not only in ourselves but also in our family lineage to be able to free ourselves from the pain once and for all. Our goal is to feel good and live on the sunny side of life attracting only healthy relationships.
The hard work along with wonder happens here. The recognition, the deep understanding and the knowledge are our intellectual power, our ability to grieve is our emotional power. If we allow ourselves to experience the full impact of our grief, it has the potential to heal the deepest and oldest of wounds. Only a healed person is able to build new and healthy foundation and create a bright future not only for himself/herself but also for the generations to come.
“Grief is subversive, undermining the quiet agreement to behave and be in control of our emotions. It is an act of protest that declares our refusal to live numb and small. There is something feral about grief, something essentially outside the ordained and sanctioned behaviors of our culture. Because of that, grief is necessary to the vitality of the soul. Contrary to our fears, grief is suffused with life-force…. It is not a state of deadness or emotional flatness. Grief is alive, wild, untamed and cannot be domesticated. It resists the demands to remain passive and still. We move in jangled, unsettled, and riotous ways when grief takes hold of us. It is truly an emotion that rises from the soul.”