“I’m fine,” my client responded as she sat down in front of me. While she was wearing a brave smile, I could see that her words and baring her teeth in a manufactured grin was a very thin disguise for the pain she was in. I was aware that ten months ago, her relationship had ended and that she still pined for this man. I also knew missing him wasn’t the true source of her anguish, just a symptom of a much older and deeper grief.
While it might be admirable to be brave in the face of a crisis, as humans, at some point we also need to allow ourselves to feel. And feeling includes pain as well as joy. If we don’t let the pain flow through us and out the other side, like a small cyst, that pain will just grow into a huge tumor that will eventually stifle or even kill us.
Unresolved grief manifests in many different forms. While insanity, cancer, paranoia and depression are extreme versions, I also see so much loss of potential, unfulfilled dreams and sadness because we are hampered by unexpressed sorrow.
It is good to grieve.
But how do we suddenly indulge in grief?
If we work on the premise that our bodies are physical expressions of our spirit, then that blocked grief will have a physiological impact on our health. Much like rotten food stuck in our pipes, the stymied emotions won’t allow the good or the bad to get through. The harm it does is not immediately apparent. Years later when we think we have successfully managed to push the pain down into non-existence, is often when it raises its ugly head in the form of physical disease or emotional breakdown.
To arrive at a place of understanding and acceptance, the griever often needs to simply acknowledge their own pain. When the perpetrator offers an apology for their acts or just someone gives validation of the pain endured, this allows the sufferer to feel “right” and justified for their less-than-desirable emotions.
So, if you are tired of feeling tired, here is a 10-tip process that might start you on your journey to clearing your grief and promoting full emotional health:
- Draw a line of your life; the left is the beginning working towards the right and your current age. Above the line, mark with a perpendicular line the positive things that happened to you and the year in which they happened. Below the line, draw a horizontal line downwards indicating the year of any painful experiences: deaths, job losses, humiliations, ending of relationships, pets dying, accidents, illnesses, operations, divorce or any other myriad of nasty things that can happen to us humans.
- Once you have identified, and acknowledged the challenges you have had to face, assess how each one affected you.
- Write a story about each one as it happened to you.
- Write another story as if it happened to someone else.
- Write another story as if, on a soul level, you had chosen to have that experience so that you could receive a gift of learning.
- Write the final story as if it was the funniest thing that had ever happened to anyone.
- Find someone (who probably had nothing to do with the situation) who you can tell what happened to you. Make sure that they are good listeners, empathic and kind. You need your pain to be validated and your feelings justified. If you don’t have someone you can trust to do this, you may prefer a neutral witness or therapist.
- Once you have acknowledged your own pain and then that pain has been validated by at least one other person, think about how you would feel if that same thing had happened to someone you care deeply about, perhaps your own child. Feel sorry for yourself, for a while. Cry, be sad, and let the pain be there until it’s not there anymore.
- If depression persists for longer than your nearest and dearest think is healthy, check in with a trusted and trained therapist.
- Ask yourself; if you were the writer of this movie script, what could have been your motivation in writing this scene into your life. In other words, what were you meant to learn from this experience?
Thank the Universe for this gift of learning and the perpetrators for being willing to act as the “bad guys” and for them to become your greatest teachers. Know that this experience was designed purely to remind you of your greatness. Then move forward, in Joy!
© Natasha Rosewood: www.natasharosewood.com