Last night I woke up in the middle of the night in distress, thinking about so many different things that are going on in my life right now and also many things that have occurred in the past. My mind was searching as to "why I feel the way I feel?"
As I lay there thinking and crying, remembering various events, I realised that I seem to feel this way over a similar period of time each year that passes..... and have felt this way over so many years that I've lost count! After hours of sleeplessness, It suddenly dawned on me that this was the time of year that we received a diagnosis for Heni before she was born....that she would have Edwards Syndrome, a severe chromosome abnormality with bleak prospects of life expectancy. It also dawned on me that this was the time of year that I received the news seven years previous to that, that my father had esophageal cancer and would likely die very quickly. To add to that It is also the time of year that I was given the news that my mother was on a quick decline and to return home as she was about to pass imminently.
The body remembers.... even if the mind sometimes tries to push it out of consciousness.... it gives us signs and hints as to what is still left unhealed..... and last night many things returned to consciousness and I felt validated that the reason "why" I was feeling what I was feeling was the remembrance of those anticipatory grief "triggers" that had been just simmering in the back drop of my mind still awaiting processing.
Grief is by nature, complicated. Sometimes we deal with the emotions that emerge and sometimes we push them back down ready for them to reemerge at a later date further down the line. Sometimes we recognize the feelings for what they are and sometimes we don't know why we feel the way we do. There are many things that can side track us in every day life from our healing and there are old wounds that come up and sometimes hinder that healing too.
They say that time heals.... but it doesn't...it's not just time that counts, it's what we do with that time that matters. It's HOW we deal with the emotions/ feelings/ pain that is important... it's the WORK we do to overcome it, because without that work things stay put and time alone does nothing. Last night these thoughts came up ready to be healed.... and more work is needed and ahead. I've done a lot of grief work over the last five years both by myself, with counseling and as I studied to become a certified grief educator (Grief.com)..... but it appears that there is still more left to do.
Grief takes time. It is the processing of information, feelings and emotions, the expression of the love that we had for our loved one...love left with no where to go anymore... a redistributing of that time , attention and space that our loved one occupied while here with us but is now left vacant. When they leave we need to learn how to grow life around that gaping hole that is left, and surround if with something different.
it takes time to untangle the many things that come up and at times others can judge this process ...they can tell you that its taking too long, that you should be done by now and that you should be over it. You are never over it! It's like telling someone to stop loving the person who is no longer there. Yes, you move forwards but you take that person with you in your heart and find ways to honor them and keep them a part of your life even if their life is over.
So it's somewhat conflicting when the DSM is now categorizing "Prolonged grief" as a disorder... a thing to be medicated and treated. So what IS actually a natural process of coming to terms with loss is now being pathologized and at the same time will become stigmatized.
I just listened to a discussion on line about this subject and I would highly recommend it. Grief experts discussing the downfalls of the DSM and confirming that grief is a natural process most of the time. Yes, sometimes people do get "stuck" in their grief but there are other ways of becoming unstuck without the extra stress and shame that a diagnosis may bring with it and the pressure from family and friends to push you through grief quicker than you can process. Not to mention the numbing that can be brought about by medication that stops that unraveling process in its tracks. Also all medication has side effects that need to be factored in too. Feelings need to be felt, moved though and expressed and as David Kessler is quoted as saying..."If you have 10,000 tears to cry you can't stop at 500", nor should you be made to. Each one needs to come out in it's own time and in it's own way. Have a listen to the discussion below..... you may just realize that prolonged grief is just plain old NORMAL after all!
Until next time