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Grief is normal, it is a direct result of attachment and love. There is really no one-size-fits-all approach to grief but normal grief tends to follow a pattern whereas complicated or what psychologists refer to as disenfranchised losses, can go underground and truthfully never get processes at all. This is when grief becomes what is referred to as complicated and can block our enjoyment of life and even undermine our ability to be intimate.
Grief over losses that are disenfranchised or out of the normal stream can make us feel out of synch with the world around us, and can undermine a sense of normalcy and dignity. This tends to push pain and resentment downward rather than allowing it to come up and out.
Normal grief has a dignity that allows the griever the freedom to experience her emotions and feel accepted and understood by her surrounding communities. But hidden losses are a different story. Unlike with a loss to death, there is no funeral to acknowledge and honor the loss, no grave to visit, no covered dishes dropped at the door nor sitting in the company of fellow mourners and supporting each other through the tears. These hidden losses live in unmarked graves within people and family systems who often avoid discussing them. The pain becomes covert rather than overt. Processing these losses can allow us to make them real and visit them in the here and now. It provides an alternative form of ritual for the kinds of losses that all too often go unrecognized and unacknowledged.
When the loss begins to evidence symptoms of complication, that is, when a current loss triggers emotional states from previous losses and these triggered emotions leak out in ways that make us feel vulnerable or emerge as inappropriate anger, pain, depression or resentment, we may need to take a deeper look at what might be going on.
A surprisingly large number of life events go un-grieved and thus they become disenfranchised. Some examples of these losses are:
If we cannot mourn these types of losses, we may:
Think of a loss that you wish to explore. Rate your answers to the following questions from one-ten. (the following two exercises are excerpted from Emotional Sobriety Workbook: From Relationship Trauma to Resilience and Balance
1.To what degree do you experience unresolved emotions surrounding this loss?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
2. How disruptive was this loss to your daily routines?
3. How much depression do you feel?
4. How much yearning do you feel?
5. How much emotional constriction do you experience?
6. How much sadness do you feel?
7. How much anger do you feel?
8. How much ghosting (continued psychic presence) of the lost person, situation, or part of self do you feel?
9. How much fear of the future do you feel?
10. How much trouble are you having organizing yourself?
11. How uninterested in your life do you feel?
12. How much old, unresolved grief is being activated and remembered as a result of this current issue?
13. How tired do you feel?
14. How much hope do you feel about your life and the future?
15. How much regret do you feel?
16. How much self-recrimination do you feel?
17. How much shame or embarrassment do you feel?
On a separate paper or tablet, write a few phrases or sentences that describe your feelings around each stage as they relate to the grief issue(s) that you are exploring.
We grieve because we love or because we’re attached and all of this is simply part of being human.Exploring your feelings around grief, whether it’s normal or disenfranchised grief can come as a great relief. If it makes you feel vulnerable, like taking a nap or doing something that feels soothing, it is working, simply relax and let go, these are just feelings and this too, shall pass.
If you wish to listen to a guided imagery in order to process pain and feel soothed around it, log onto tiandayton.com and go to guided imageries. And then do something relaxing, soothing and kind to yourself!
May 30th, 2018
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