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The Grief Process

Discussion in 'General Afterlife Discussions' started by nhwidow, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. nhwidow

    nhwidow New Member

    I am having a struggle these days. I have been actively grieving for nearly 3 years now. I never imagined I would still be working through this process for so long. I have worked very hard to cope with my loss, to move forward, to rebuild my life. I have made a great deal of progress. In the beginning, grief is a physical pain as well as an emotional and intellectual one. Grief renders you helpless and washes over you in waves, some smaller waves, just lapping at your feet. Other waves that bowl you over and leave you gasping. I have moved from the raw, guttural grief that leaves you wailing and sobbing, doubled over with the reality of the loss, the finality of the loss. I have moved from having grief as a constant companion, never leaving my side, to grief now being a visitor, one who never calls before stopping by. I spend a lot of time trying to be proactive in my grief, more time than people imagine and yet still, it is never more than a breathe away. The last few days have re-awakened my grief. Holidays meant only to sell cards and flowers, birthdays looming on the horizon, vacations with out the reason for the destination. All of these things are working against me. I have tried to put my grief into words, to describe it and illustrate the depth of grief to those who have been fortunate enough to never experience this level of loss. There is grief in all things we love that we lose, a beloved pet, a dear friend, a parent, and everyone's grief is different, I would never impose my own perspective on grief on anyone else. However, I have come up with the following to put into words where I am now:

    Grief is like Death

    You can't predict it
    You can't control it
    You can't avoid it
    It happens to everyone differently
    There is no way around it
    You can be very proactive in life and in grief, but that hard work can all be blown away when grief descends
    You have to deal with it because the further out of your mind's eye you push it, the harder it will push back
    It is isolating
    It is demoralizing
    All the progress in the world can be undone by one note of a song, one fleeting memory or one date on the calendar
    It is out of our hands, we work at staying strong, reaching out, moving forward and we are still at its mercy

    Those are the thoughts that have been on my mind lately. I am/have worked REALLY hard to try to put my life back together again but then along comes the grief train and I feel helpless to move through it. I HATE that grief can control my day. All my plans to accomplish something, to cross items off my list are thrown out the window when grief hits. Out of the blue, it takes control of my day, it hijacks my mind, it frustrates me and leaves me helpless and defenseless against my emotions, my loss, my love for Tim and the life we had. I am expanding my circle, I am looking for new activities, I am trying to find comfort alone and in the places we loved best. I am finding out what I am made of and what I can do. I am learning to make my own decisions, figure out what "I" like, instead of opting for what "we" liked. I am working my a** off and then, bang, I am a blubbery mess, brought to my knees in a matter of moments. Unable to push through. And the harder I try to wait it out without acknowledging it, the longer it takes for me to rebound. I know it will pass and I will regain my footing, but I also know that it will come again. And the despair and sadness will settle on my mind and in my heart and the grieving process will take precedence over anything my rational mind might plan in defense. For a control freak like me, missing Tim, my previous life, and all the things attached to that loss is tough enough, but being at the mercy of grief is my biggest struggle right now. I know I need to ride it out, but that is ceding control to it and I have never done that. I believe Tim is in a better place, watching over me and that gives me some comfort. But no matter all of that, integrating that fact into my mind is a long, long process and until, if ever, I manage to do that, grief will be waiting, to remind me of how much I have lost both now and for the rest of my life.

    Thanks for listening. .
    Amore and Sue like this.
  2. BarbfromSanAntonio

    BarbfromSanAntonio New Member

    NHWidow....how eloquent, how painful, how deep! Thanks for sharing this....my first real loss was more than 40 years ago with my Dad, my best-friend....it took me years before I could talk about him without crying and I find that I still can shed tears. You are not on any timeline to satisfy that grief and despair. Perhaps sharing your thoughts will be beneficial, particularly finding out and realizing that there are people who care about you - we don't have to, but the truth is that I do! I value your sadness and your words.
  3. RobertaGrimes

    RobertaGrimes Administrator

    Thank you for your kindness, Barb, as always! What NHWidow shares with us above is the most extraordinary and genuine description of how grief feels that I have ever seen, and I urge everyone who hasn't yet read it to go to the top of this thread and let her words sink in! Please consider yourself hugged tight by all of us, dear friend in NH - it isn't much compared to a hug from Tim, but it is all that we can give.

    Thank you for giving us this tremendous gift. I know how hard - yet perhaps therapeutic? - it must have been for you to write it. Thank you for giving us a springboard here to talk about grief so specifically, since for most of us, our interest in death grew from a terrible personal loss. I haven't had such a loss, but I have talked about grief with so many people going through it that I have learned some things about it that I can share:

    - Deep grief is lifelong. It is like a chronic illness - it can be managed, but you never "get over it." Some people do get past their grief - generally grief for a parent or for someone they watched die of cancer who clearly is better off - but many people do not. Therefore, everyone, never assume that a widow or widower or a bereft parent is entirely past grieving, even if the death is decades past! To lose a spouse or a child is often a life-sentence. The grief can be managed. But it never ends. (I'm sorry, dear friends, to say this! But the good news is that grief usually can be managed.)

    - Grief is not just one loss, but it is several losses at once. And you have to fight each of these losses on its own terms, which is one reason why - as NHWidow tells us - no matter how you fight grief, it still will sneak back and bite you unexpectedly. Grief is a many-headed dragon. You have to subdue those heads, one by one. Here are some of them:

    1) Worry about your loved one. This is perhaps the easiest head to tackle, since we know now where our loved ones are and nearly always we can communicate with them. Fear of death is the base fear - once we conquer that, we no longer fear anything, and every grieving person has to learn what death is or terror for the loved one who is out of sight temporarily is going to make tackling the other dragon-heads almost impossible.

    2) The sudden, involuntary change of all your habits. Don't knock this one - it's a biggie! With a big loss like NHWidow's, everything changes, from meals to where we go for fun to how many socks are in the laundry. This yanks the rug from under us. It can be terrifying. To conquer this dragon-head, we must resolutely make new habits as soon as possible that suit our needs! When my sister was unexpectedly widowed at 52, she quit her job and retired and became her church's organist and began to pack lunches for Meals on Wheels and moved and did everything possible to get past those old habits. She is the most grief-healthy widow that I know, but - like NHWidow - she has worked very hard at it. And she still sometimes lets the grief come.

    3) The loss of companionship. For many people, this one is a killer. If you have had your whole life wrapped up in someone, to lose that someone is to lose the chance to turn around or pick up the phone – a hundred times a day, if you like - and chat with someone who deeply loves you and really understands you. We don’t realize how much personal validation we get that way! We define ourselves in terms of those who love us. So to fight this dragon-head, it is crucial for bereaved people to make new friends if at all possible. You aren’t replacing your loved one – you can’t replace your loved one! – but you are finding new people in whose loving eyes you can again begin to see yourself reflected. There is no need to date or to marry again, but there is a great need for people you can love and who will love you in return.

    4) The loss of your past. If you have been married for awhile, or if you have lost a young-adult child, then you have decades of your life – every happy memory! – suddenly rendered off-limits by grief. Once you subdue all the other dragon-heads, this one is going to be less fearsome, but still for many years every picture from every Christmas or birthday or vacation from all those years is going to bring you pain. The widows who have been most successful at dealing with grief tell me that eventually those pictures do start to bring joy again, but it can take a decade or more to get to the place where you don’t wince at the thought of them. Old favorite songs re-heard, old vacation spots re-visited, and even sometimes one’s own backyard can have the same devastating effect as seeing an old picture. The only thing that I can think of to help at all is to suggest that you think of each old picture and song and loved place unexpectedly encountered as a spirit-hug from a loved one you will very soon see again. That is true – that’s what it is – and in time, that makes it easier.

    5) The loss of your future. To lose a loved one – especially if that loss was unexpected – is to have one’s entire future life destroyed. NHWidow describes this feeling so beautifully! If you lose a child, you lose not just a child but also future proud moments and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and the loving care of that child in old age. Such a loss is horrendous! If it’s a spouse, then you lose every plan that you and your loved one ever made together, and all those future proud moments with children and grandchildren, and the comfort of growing old together. I can tell you that in fact your loved one hasn’t lost anything – Tim will be enjoying those future moments from where he is now – but NHWidow has lost everything. We have to understand that! And the only way for bereaved people to even make a dent in slaying what I think in the end may be the worst of these dragon-heads is to resolutely and with growing enthusiasm begin to think about and plan for an entirely different future. This new future won’t replace the future you have lost. Nothing could do that. But it is a kind of consolation-prize designed just for you, with new plans and new ideas and without anyone else having a right to question it. The more emotional energy you begin to invest in planning your new future, the less you will feel that you also died on the same day that you lost your loved one. The dead tell us over and over again that they want us to get on with our lives! It is so hard to do that. But in trying to do it, NHWidow and all others who have suffered such a tremendous loss are giving the greatest possible gift to the loved one who went on before them.

    - If you have not suffered this kind of grief, I hope this gives you a better appreciation for it! Hug your loved ones as often as you can and tell them repeatedly that you love them, because there is another dragon-head – regret – that may be even worse than all the others because it is the hardest to kill. It is also the easiest to avoid! Do everything possible every day of your life to love and support everyone in your life. That is what you are here to do, and doing it will make your own life joyous.

    Another big hug to NHWidow, and to everyone else who is grieving now. We are told by ascended beings that nothing ever happens by chance, so there is a reason why you lost temporarily someone that you deeply love. You will be together amazingly soon – in eternity, this earth-life is an eye-blink! And I promise you that if you continue to do your grief-work and subdue all those dragon-heads one by one, the day will come when you will see this heroic struggle with your grief to have been as noble a fight and just as successfully won as any saint’s slaying of a hundred dragons. You will be together and laughing soon with everyone you ever thought you had lost. And meanwhile, you have the power to make the very most of what remains of your life while you make them all so proud of you!
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011
    Sue likes this.
  4. nhwidow

    nhwidow New Member

    Thank you so much, Barb. I appreciate your thoughts and your taking the time to respond. Someone once told me that it is important to have others witness your pain, your loss, your grief and that by witnessing them, others validate their reality. You have done that by your note. Thank you for witnessing my pain and giving it life. I will not dwell in it but at least I know that it is real, not just for me, but for others.
  5. papajohn

    papajohn Active Member

    Wow Roberta, You hit every battle in this particular war. It sounds like NH lost Tim suddenly? That is more difficult than slowly losing a loved one over time. Suddenly, is here today gone today. Slowly you get to prepare for the inevitable. Slowly you live through small deaths. Example: can't drive anymore, a death,can't walk anymore,a death,can't bath anymore, a death, and so on. Each one of those dragon heads is harder to fight when it is sudden.
    NH, read Roberta's,words and absorb them. Trust that you are not alone in this war. Unseen help has to be there for you. Learn all you can about the afterlife. You are on a new journey. One that you have to embrace. Sorry. We can"t totally grasp it from this earthly plane. But I think Tim gets it. Think of a tapestry We see it from the back of it with threads going in all directions making no sense to us. They see the front of it. The final picture.
  6. nhwidow

    nhwidow New Member

    Thank you PapaJohn for you response. Yes, Tim died suddenly. He had just turned 52 and there was an accident at our home. I did CPR on him until the EMT's arrived but I knew he was gone before they even got there. We had plans to go to dinner that night with our two high school children and some friends. We had all sorts of plans. But death altered everything. I know he is supporting me and guiding me and I have felt him and I even had signs before his accident that forewarned me. But regardless of any of that, the afterlife, his continuing love and support, the adjustment to EVERY change in my life, the grief I feel most profoundly, is the grief of what he and our children are missing, the shared experiences, the advice from their Dad, the love and the support in building their future. I know he is watching but it rings hollow on a day like today. Today our son got his acceptance letter to one of the schools to which he applied. I am so very proud of him and thrilled for him. But it is bittersweet. His Dad isn't here to congratulate him, to share the moment. It is all up to me to make it special, to acknowledge his accomplishment and to share it with him, here, on this earth, in this life. I miss having Tim here to share the accomplishment and toast to "our raising such a successful young man" lol. I am angry right now. It will pass but it is times like this that seem so empty when they should be so full. I appreciate your concern and I will keep Roberta's words close by and read them. I know I am not alone and I sincerely appreciate your thoughts and concern.
  7. Sue

    Sue New Member

    NHWidow, my thoughts and prayers headed your way. You're right about what happens when you try to push the grief away and in my humble opinion you've got things under control. At my lowest I ask myself (and my loved ones who have passed) "why in the heck did I agree to this"? meaning my soul group fashioned this out to happen in exactly this way for a reason I cannot remember but I know it's for my progression. Sounds like I've got it together right? Oh no...I'll be hitting the floor wailing again until there isn't any energy left or head into the shower (it's almost soundproof in there). I chalk this up to old habits sticking to me like gorilla glue! Ms. Grimes has given me so much to think about, so much I want to put into practice, so much that will ease things from critical to temporary. Sending a hug to you my friend....

  8. mac

    mac Staff Member

    I don't want to be my customary wet-blanket but this thread is very old (2011, six years since the last posting) and other than for Roberta all the contributors have left these threads. We can only hope they've picked up their lives and moved on as the saying goes...

    Bereavement and grieving are very personal issues where there is no single way that's right or wrong for dealing with the loss of a loved one. Some understanding of life, death and what follows, however, can begin to make a little sense of situations which outwardly don't make much sense at all.

    It would be best to start another thread if you'd like a new conversation.
  9. RobertaGrimes

    RobertaGrimes Administrator

    Thank you for your lovely words, Sue! And unlike our wet-blankety (but still lovable) friend, Mac, I'm happy to see old threads re-surface. I recall NHWidow - I met her, actually - and what she wrote here is eloquent. Thank you, dear Sue, for having pulled forward this thread so others can read it!
  10. mac

    mac Staff Member

    It's at a time like this, Roberta, that the loss of the old website stucture is most noticed and missed. An index of this website's database of old threads might be helpful to those looking for relevant information.

    I'm often disappointed that so few active members are to be found but perhaps I ought to be heartened that formerly-active seekers may have found the reassurance they needed. Or that they learned that the circumstances they found themselves struggling with don't last forever and a new normal in life begins.

    I do hope that's the case.... :)
    Amore likes this.

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