Archive for the ‘Grieving Process’ Category

Opening to the Experience of Grief

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

In the first few weeks and months of grief we experience numbness and shock. Just like the body’s physical reaction to trauma we go into shock, our psyches protect us from experiencing the full reality of a death. This is how it’s supposed to be. It’s how we’re wired and thank goodness for that. Rather than experiencing the full reality of our loss, we get it dripped in a little bit at a time.

If you don’t see how this works, think back to the first week following a death. This is the time you had to make or finalize the arrangements, attend the wake and go to the funeral. Around you was the buzz of activity but through it all you felt a bit like you were swimming underwater. You were going through the motions of the accepted protocol with some degree of numbness.

After the funeral you probably had the experience of picking up the phone to call the person who died or walking in the door expecting them to be there. In those brief moments you forgot that they had died and each time you were confronted again with the reality of their loss…drip, drip, drip.

I believe this is the psyche’s way of protecting us from an experience that surely would make us go crazy if we tried to swallow it whole. We don’t have to dive in all at once but we do need to get out of the way to allow the experience to unfold naturally and organically.

In my experience this is the fastest and most complete way through the grieving process…feel it. Stop trying to stuff the feelings. Stop trying to manage the feelings. Stop trying to control the process.

Rather open yourself up to the experience of grief. This is the vulnerability grief requires of us and when it’s done with us, it lets go leaving us scarred and strong, the real kind of strength that’s not dissimilar from the process of tempering steel. Going through the fire makes us strong and remakes us in ways we would never have imagined.

Susan FullerSusan L. Fuller

Photo Credit: Robert Michie

Healing into Wholeness

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

healing into wholeness

Healing means becoming whole.

Period. End of story.

It does not mean returning to a previous state of being as I heard someone say on the radio the other day.

All it means is becoming whole.

After the experience of death and the grief that follows, that wholeness will be dramatically different from what we may have experienced before but it is wholeness nonetheless.

It’s a wholeness that incorporates the experience of loss into who we are.

It’s a wholeness that incorporates the lessons we learned through the grieving process into who we are in the present moment.

And most important of all, it is a wholeness that incorporates the memory of the person who died into our very being. That includes everything they ever gave us, the things they taught us, and the way they loved us.

Now that is wholeness and it is where grief takes us when we have the courage to follow.

Susan FullerSusan L. Fuller

P.S. More on what it means to heal from loss and grief

Healing means becoming whole.

Photo Credit: Adrian van Leen

Grieving in private vs trying to be strong

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

grieving in privateIs there a difference between “trying to be strong” and choosing to grieve privately?

In our culture, we are applauded for “being strong” after we’ve experienced a profound loss. We actually get a tremendous about of approval for being strong in the face of any kind of pain.

So rather than allowing ourselves to be vulnerable we’re encouraged to be stoic.

As I said in a recent post, moving through grief requires us to be vulnerable.

We’re supposed to feel the pain. Not because life is supposed to be terrible and painful. Not because we’re being punished. Not because we’re being disloyal for feeling anything other than pain but rather…

We’re supposed to feel the pain because the pain opens the pathway out of our grief and back into life. It’s a life transformed, certainly, but it is life nonetheless.

On the other hand, being stoic closes every possible exit until we’re left with nothing but a brittle shell of who we once were.

Does that mean we’re supposed to be a blubbering mass of hysteria every minute of every day? Of course not. Many of us choose to grieve privately…alone or with a few trusted friends.

The issue isn’t about who sees our pain. What matters is that we acknowledge our own pain, that we are willing to face it and feel it. That’s what matters. It’s what happens in the privacy of our own hearts that makes the difference.

So yes there is a huge difference between pretending to ourselves and everybody else that we’re okay and making the choice to acknowledge the pain of grief in private.

Susan FullerSusan L. Fuller

P.S. I share more on this topic in the free download How to Avoid the 5 Most Common Myths about Grief. Check it out.

It’s what happens in the privacy of our own hearts that makes the difference.

Photo Credit: Mingret