If you are looking to stay miserable, upset and frustrated with the problem you're facing, the best thing for you to do is to complain about it. Complaining is THE #1 way not to solve a problem. In fact, complaining is diametrically opposed to solving a problem. Even worse, complaining has you convinced that you are solving your problem. Complaining is quite the hoodwinker.
Usually when we think about the phoenix, we think about the rising from the ashes part. It's such a powerful symbol of hope.Recently, I found myself sitting in the ashes - covered in soot. There's a quote that pops into my head at these times from Marianne Williamson's phenomenal A Return to Love that goes something like " the only thing worse that having to say "Oh God, I can't believe I did that" is having to say, "Oh God, I can't believe I did that.....Again." Yes, this trip to the ashes was my own doing.
Whether you have actual or existential survivor’s guilt, it usually comes in the form of a question like, “Why am I allowed to live while the person who died does not?” It’s a fair question, but the tendency is to stop there. To just live with the question and let it haunt you and torment you is not fair.Some will punish themselves with it for the rest of their lives. That’s really sad and no way to live or honor the person that died. The more courageous challenge is to actually answer the question.
We all know we are supposed to count our blessings and all that jazz, blah blah blah. We’ve heard it all before. Gratitude Shmaditude. But this is science, ya’ll. Not some woo woo, you’ll feel good if you keep a gratitude journal and don’t forget to draw hearts all around it – this is the real deal. Check out this research.
“I’ll Never Trust Anyone Again!!!” We’ve all said it. Usually, it’s cried out dramatically in tears while running to our bed (the hand on the forehead is optional) or right before we take our hit of Ben and Jerry’s ready for our night of DVR’d numbness. How adorable!!! Actually thinking we can turn trust off like a faucet. Here’s the deal - if you plan to never trust anyone again, head to a deserted island because if you are in a relationship of any kind, trust is involved. And here’s more crappy news, humans are imperfect and therefore, it’s only a matter of time before one of them lets you down again.
If you have the need to please, say yes, over-help, over-do, over-gift, over-compliment, make nice and all that crap we’ve been socialized to do, the jig is about to be up. But, what I’ve noticed lately is that women talk about being a pleaser almost as a point of pride or as something that they have no power or control over. You may have even gotten so comfortable with your status as a pleaser that you announce with a ho-hum attitude or maybe even a flair, exclaiming that indeed, “I’m a pleaser!” I’ve also heard things like, “I can’t help it, I’m a pleaser!,” and “I’m such a pleaser!”
External adjustments are the actual physical things that you have to do now that the death has happened that you didn't have to do before.At first you are confronted the horrifying truth of that the death has occurred and in if that wasn't cruel enough, now you have to go and do a lot of shit. If you are the parent, spouse, or adult sibling you will be making a lot of decisions and plans. This includes things like calling the ambulance; going down to the hospital; calling the funeral home; writing the obituary, choosing a casket; discussing with family members how to carry the wishes of the person who died; burial or cremation arrangements; memorial service or funeral including and who will do what and speak etc.), delivering the eulogy, dealing with the insurance company and the bank, getting the will and the estate taken care of. This would all be a nightmare if you had boundless energy, but Jesus, you are in THE WORST PAIN OF YOUR LIFE.
This is Part 2 of a 6 Part Series on the Tasks of Mourning by J. William Worden. But don't worry, this doesn't mean YOU have to think about DOING the tasks. I believe that your psychological immune system is already hard at work doing these tasks.Task II: To Process the Pain of Grief
If I were to ask you to show me a picture of someone processing the pain of grief, my guess is that you show me a picture of a woman crying. Don't feel bad because this stereotype was socialized into you. This is why you are out there on your own right now, because our society didn't teach you shit about who grieves (everyone does except sociopaths - even some animals grieve) and how grief impacts us.
This is Part 1 of a 6 Part Series on the Tasks of Mourning by J. William Worden. But don't worry, this doesn't mean YOU have to do more work. I believe that your psychological immune system is already hard at work doing these tasks without your help. (Disclaimer: That is not how Dr. Worden presents them, it's how I think of them!!).Task I: Accepting the Reality of the Loss
It seems straight forward, right? You know he's dead or you were with her when she died. But even when it happens and you witness it with your own eyes, there is this weird feeling like it didn't happen. That truth that he or she actually died is so shocking to our system that our psyche has a hard time making it real.
You really, really don't need to worry about how you're grieving. You can't get it wrong. Grief is simply your reaction to your loss. Let's say that one more time. Grief is your reaction to your loss. What does that mean?1. Grief is Your Reaction
It means that you don't need to give a fuck about what anyone else thinks about how you are grieving. Are they obsessed about your reaction to the last movie you saw? How about to your reaction last birthday? I know these are ridiculous questions, but what I'm trying to help you see is that grief is your personal reaction or response and no one else in the world will have that exact response because it's yours and yours alone. Grief is a ongoing and evolving personal experience not an event or a thing that is predictable or that someone can judge any more than they should judge your personal experience of the steak you ate last night.
There is surviving or there is thriving. There is keeping busy or there is experiencing your life.
There is post-traumatic stress or there is post-traumatic growth.
There is getting bitter or there is getting better.
If you want to figure out why you're having such a hard time putting one foot in front of the other, why you're forgetting appointments or your keys - AGAIN and why you can't concentrate for shit, you need to understand that your psychological immune system is hard at work trying to save your ass. Think about the last time you had the flu and how you could hardly get out of bed to brush your teeth. Why were you so weak? Think about it for a second. Not why you were sick or achey, but why fatigued?
Some think the sickness, accident, death or trauma was the most challenging part. Others might think the grieving and living without him or her is. Who are we kidding? It's all a complete and total nightmare. But, what's interesting is somehow we know how to survive the worst. We instinctively know how to dig in deep and just fucking get through it. We know how to shut down if we need to and we have our lifelong coping mechanisms. We all have our own ways of zoning out avoiding our feelings and the terrifying reality of our situation. But learning how to live just might be the most challenging part.
That resonates doesn't it? Yet, we've been told to move on and to get over it and worst of all "get closure" (as if that was a thing). We've been fed lies. And in our vulnerable and hurt state, believed them. But, I'm going to tell you the truth. You Will Never Get Over It. The reason this resonates with you is because truth resonates.
Now, let me tell you why you will never get over it. It’s because you are not a computer with a freaking delete key, that's why. But, let's take it deeper than that, how can you ever get over having a mother or father? How can you move on from having a child or a spouse or a brother or sister? You can’t. It doesn’t even make any sense. Our relationships make us who we are and when they die, they don’t take that part of us with them (Hedke & Winslade, 2004).
Most therapists don't get any training on the psychology of grief and loss while they are learning to become counselors, yet almost all therapist list grief as service they provide clients and I think that's misleading. While they may be experienced in comforting you while you're in pain, I'm thinking you might want a bit more that that because a safe friend and confidant can do that and she will do it for free.
"You must do the thing you think you cannot do” is one of my all-time favorite quotes. Eleanor Roosevelt was talking about looking fear in the face and she’s talking to you too. You must heal, forgive, release the dysfunctional pattern or relationship, get clean from your addiction, start taking care of yourself and figure out what you want and who you are.
You can also stop looking to a "someday" when you are skinny enough, rich enough, smart enough, talented enough or when you know all the right people or have all the right letters behind your name. Your Amazing Life isn't going to be mocked by your low-self esteem.
Grieving takes a tremendous amount of energy, especially during that first eighteen months. I am constantly reminding my grieving clients that their psyches are working really hard because they have a tendency to forget the simple notion that the act of grieving is hard, exhausting work.
On October 5, 2012 I appeared on the Blogtalk radio show "Think Zink" with Sarah Zink where we discussed grieving when the loss you suffered was traumatic as a part of our series called "The Kaleidoscope of Grief." These are some notes from our discussion (with added explanations and examples). I've also embedded a link to the show, which is also available for download from iTunes. Grief becomes even more difficult and complicated when the death was traumatic because when you have a traumatic loss you are not only grieving that loss, you are also suffering a trauma. So, in essence, you have not just one problem (grief) you have two different and separate problems (grief AND trauma).
On September 7th I appeared on the Blogtalk radio show "Think Zink" with Sarah Zink where we discussed grief work and the Tasks of Mourning as a part of our series called "The Kaleidoscope of Grief." These are some notes from our discussion (with added explanations and examples). I've also embedded a link to the show, which is also available for download from iTunes.