Here is a topic I haven’t even touched upon in my quest for authenticity. I think because it can be such a painful emotion and needs company to share with. Grief can come about for more than the loss of a loved one. It attacks us in other ways also. One might feel grief about the loss of innocence because of sexual abuse. Or the loss of childhood because of emotional abuse. There is the loss of safety and trust that comes with physical abuse. There is also a loss of self because of neglect or varying types of abuse. Abuse seems to be the main theme here. If you were abused as a child or even as an adult, you have likely encountered a loss of some sort that needs addressing.
Some people may never have made the connection between the abuse and the sense of loss and ultimately grief but it is a very real experience that can cause a huge disruption in our lives. When we take a close look at grief we can see how it manifests in our lives through longing and intensifies through neglect. If we never acknowledge our pain, we are neglecting ourselves and our ability to be whole. Sometimes the longing is for experiences we have lost with a loved one because of death or separation of some sort (such as divorce). Experiences that were once shared are no longer celebrated together and sometimes can’t be experienced anymore at all. Grief includes all these losses and longings.
Grief can take on several different forms including emotional, physical, cognitive, behavioural, social, cultural, spiritual and philosophical. I am most interested in the emotional side, but it is good to be aware of these other manifestations that one could be dealing with. I think to understand that there are physical symptoms and cognitive developments of grief is also important as it allows us to explore both our behaviours and our thoughts.
So how do we tackle grief? I think, personally, that writing our feelings down can be extremely cathartic. I’ve written letters about my losses, in particular to my inner child whom as a child was unable to process some of the emotional and sexual abuse. I have also written letters to people that I have loved and lost, either by death or by separation. Sometimes, in fact, most times, we need to write several different letters in order to help with the healing process. This is just one way that I, personally, have been able to help my grief find a place on paper and get it ‘out there’ into the open. I don’t know that grief can ever be dealt with with an end in mind. It is something that lessens over time, but will always be there. I also think that different circumstances and individual capacities affect the way we deal with grief and how it develops in our minds, bodies and souls. Every person and situation is different. Never judge how a person responds to and deals with loss. They are on their own journey and are tackling their grief in their own way. Remember to always be kind and appreciate differences in response to loss.
The five emotional stages of grief as proposed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I think writing a letter, memoir or in a journal that deals with each of these stages could help us better tackle our grief. There are also grief counselors and many books written on grief. Finding others who have personal experience with similar losses as you can also help us understand what we are dealing with and going through. Here is a link to Brene Browns list of books on grief:
Take care and help yourself deal with your unique situation.
peace balance empathy