Do you avoid thinking of those whom you have lost either to death, to moving away, or by breaking off a relationship?
If someone nearby begins to cry or expresses sorrow do you quietly panic and get away as fast as possible? Do you attempt to stop them?
Do feelings of sadness and loss arise in moments of joy or intimacy?
Undigested grief gets in the way of living. It colors our thoughts and feelings and comes between us and those we love. That a National Grieving Day exists says something about how prevalent this is.
When my father died I was surprised by my grief. My relationship with my dad wasn’t easy. In his last few years I distanced myself in order to keep healthy boundaries. I had already grieved the dad I didn’t have, the one I wished I had. His death didn’t come as a surprise and still it shook me. For about six months every time I had sex I would dissolve in tears of grief. My husband was patient and supportive. He had lost his mother a few years before and had no support for his grieving.
I would go about my days upright, getting things done, feeling okay. Until we made love. Then somewhere in the middle, memories of my dad would visit me. I was awash with waves of anger, frustration, and love. I needed to be held.
It is more difficult to grieve alone. Something in us wants to be witnessed. Having someone to hold you and hold that moment for you to feel and fall into helps to let it dissolve and pass. At times I would do anything to not feel that grief on my own. It feels like it can swallow me, that I would drown in it. Sometimes I can manage it, sometimes I need help, or to turn away entirely.
Today I am facing the end of my marriage. Waves of conflicting thoughts and feelings, mixed memories and emotions come over me. Some days I’m barely functional. Talking about little things that irritate can lead me to underlying sadness; that’s a relief. When I have identified that I’m grieving I’m less likely to blame others for annoying me, less likely to distract myself or stop the process, to get lost in circular thinking or complaining. Being held makes it easier for me to hold my discomfort.
Do you have a friend or loved one to whom you can turn, who won’t try to “fix” you but can hold you in your despair? If not, please contact me. You don’t have to manage it alone.
National Grieving Day is http://nationalgrievingday.comNovember 22nd, 2014.