“When my middle daughter, Nava, was diagnosed as having developmental disabilities, I went through this grieving process intensely; and I could not have done it alone. I had the help of a wonderful grief therapist, Dr. Ken Moses. “
I ranted over and over again, I emoted intense feelings of rage, jealousy, bitterness and the Why Me theme over and over. Dr. Moses and his office became my safe dumping ground for one year. I unloaded the brutally heavy weight of negative feelings and he picked them up and held them all for me, gently and strongly, with compassion, while teasing out strands of thoughts, ideas and questions.
For me the difficulty was in trying to make sense of the senseless; trying to understand an unknown, a fluke of nature. I have always felt if I could understand something then I could deal and cope with it better. Here (my daughter’s disability) was something that had no explanation, no reason.
And so I went through the process of questioning in search of some meaning to my personal misfortune. I had to make sense of it. I was like Govinda in Hermann Hesse’s book Siddhartha, I wanted “something that I can conceive, something I can understand! Give me something to help me on my way. My path is hard and dark.”
Somehow, going through this therapy helped reduce my intense feelings of bitterness, anger and resentment. There were no ‘real’ answers, but there was a gradual shift in my emotions. Until I could work through some of these negative feelings, all I could see was darkness and negativity- all that Nava wasn’t and all that she couldn’t do. But gradually with the release of the intensity of pain, I started to see and appreciate all that she was- with her smiley disposition, her hard work with hardly a complaint, her easy-going nature – all blessings of a soul.
Grieving feelings need to be expressed. Without giving expressions to them, the pain stays within and there can be little to no relief. The loss is kept within, oftentimes unresolved.
It is painful to get in touch with the feelings that arise from a loss, but in the long run it is precisely in allowing ourselves to feel these difficult feelings that healing can occur.
Grief needs to be shared. Sharing and opening up to another reduces our sense of isolation. When we experience a loss that brings forth grief, we can feel like we’re all alone in our situation, which further intensifies the pain.
Feelings can be so intense at the time, as to cause us to feel as though we’re losing it or going crazy. Sharing them and having them accepted and validated normalizes them which can be a source of comfort.
Expressing, sharing, helps unlock and release the pain. It makes the feelings lose some of their intensity. They begin to crack and move and with time we start to feel a slight shift. Speckles of light can start to come through. We’re moving….getting unstuck, getting loosened up.
We can be there for one another in times of grief and intense pain by:
- Acknowledging the painful feelings
- Listening to the expression of them
- Staying with the painful feelings; holding them and not running away because of one’s own discomfort
- Allowing for repetition of events and feelings
We all know that even the best of friends probably could not do this for an extended period of time on a consistent basis; it can become too much. This is where grief counselors come in.
But for basic, compassionate and helpful skills, we can all do the above to some degree.
Support groups were created with all of this in mind – to share and express and not feel so alone in the lonely place of loss and grief.
Thank you for reading. Perhaps you will Express and Share your comments below.