Archive for the ‘Complicated Grief’ Category

Grief and Abuse: When abuse is in the mix

Monday, June 17th, 2013

grief and abuseEvery so often I get a message from someone who is grieving the death of someone, usually a parent, who was abusive. To say this complicates grief is the understatement of all time.

The mix of grief and abuse is so confusing. So what’s really going on?

This one death is triggering multiple losses.

1. The actual death of someone you love in spite of the abuse. No matter how horrific the abuse this person was still someone you loved and the grief you feel is very real.

2. The hope that you might someday get the relationship you always wanted. No matter how much we know intellectually that we’ll never have the parent we want, there is always a part of us that keeps hoping…and when they die that hope dies too.

3. Not only the hope is lost but also whatever relationship you were able to establish as an adult. These adult relationships tend to be rather tenuous at best, and yet many manage to establish some kind of relationship with the former abuser. This hard won relationship also dies when they die.

There is no easy solution for this kind of grief. It is by definition complicated grief and therapy is what’s called for. The issues involved are just too complex to treat this as a normal grieving process.

What this death can be is an opening to doing the healing work necessary to move forward in life without the brokenness and shame that abuse creates.

If you’re looking for a therapist who can address all these levels of grief, you might find this article helpful. I would ask the same questions about their experience with abuse as I suggest for grief.

I hope this helps,

Susan FullerSusan L. Fuller

Photo Credit: Billy Alexander

Grief moving forward?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

dynamic grief
How do you define grief moving forward?

In response to one of my emails, someone posted this question on Facebook…

you asked that we comment on your email regarding: “Anger, regret and guilt are among the stickiest issues when it comes to grief. Resolving them is key to your grief moving forward.” My difficulty with this statement is your phrase “moving forward” What does that mean? How do you define moving forward? What does “stuck” mean?

This is one of those great big questions that probably can’t be answered in a single blog post but I’ll give it a shot…

Grief is a dynamic process not a static state…at least that’s how it’s designed. Sometimes the process stalls or gets well and truly stuck. It feels like there is no way out, that you’re always going to feel this badly. In professional terms this is called complicated grief though most people who are grieving relate better to the experience of being stuck.

It can be tricky to determine whether someone is really stuck or just taking a long time. This is something the mental health professions continue to struggle with and, as a whole, we’re really not doing a very job it.

Grief does take time and often a very long time. The criteria I write about in the book and believe is the most reliable indicator of whether someone is grieving normally or not, is whether the grief is moving. When it’s moving (even if it keeps backtracking and going around in circles), it will bring the person who is grieving to some sort of resolution.

And what do I mean by THAT!?!

It’s one of the great challenges of grief because it is so paradoxical. We do “get over” (before anyone jumps all over me for that, I agree it’s a terrible term) our grief AND at the very same time we never “get over” it.

Here are some of the reasons why…

When we get over it, we are able to reinvest in life again, love again and find renewed meaning in live. We find joy in the memories even when some may be bittersweet.

We don’t get over it because we will always miss them, we have been profoundly changed by their loss, and we will experience moments of sadness for the remainder of our lives (usually short lived).

Both are true so when I talk about moving forward this is where the movement takes you.

Now anger, regret and guilt often send people into an endless loop of shame and blame which can very easily stall the natural movement of grief. Finding ways of making peace with it can go a long way towards healing (my preferred terms but it has its detractors as well).

Does this make sense?

Susan FullerSusan L. Fuller

P.S Feel free to comment below or on Facebook

Photo Credit: sardinelly

Unfinished Business in the Grieving Process

Friday, April 20th, 2012

In my last post I talked about Grief and Regret…The would’ves, should’ves, could’ves we all experience during the grieving process. In today’s video, I’m talking about a deeper level of regret, guilt and even anger, the result of unfinished business you still have with the person who died. We all have a touch of this one too, but it does tend to be more difficult to resolve.

Please let me know what you think in the comments.