The myth of “one year”

“While medications may help to allay some symptoms of anxiety and depression, we hear over and over from those taking tranquilizers and antidepressants that their symptoms persist or, in some cases, are worse. As noted bereavement therapist, Peter Lynch, MSW, said at an annual Holiday Service of Remembrance, referring to the many feelings associated with grief, “The only way through it is through it.” Medication doesn’t make the pain of grief go away. Clients need to understand this important point.”

http://psychcentral.com/lib/grief-healing-and-the-one-to-two-year-myth/

The only way through it is through it. And for some of us the second year is worse. How can that possibly be? Can I really hurt more than I hurt now? Maybe you are really feeling it, really overwhelmed by the pain of it. But for some people those first few months, that entire year of firsts, is survived in a state of withdrawal from feeling, as if you are observing yourself going through the motions. And after some months it is possible that the defenses start coming down and the reality of the pain begins to be felt. For me it was just a week before I felt it. The day after the funeral. That was when my numbness receded. I was overwhelmed and had to be hospitalized. But for some a whole year can be spent in emotional separation, distanced observation, numbness. As your psyche hopes to build up strength for when the pain becomes more real and the fantasy of “it can’t be true” finally breaks down.

I imagine it must be much harder to resist that fantasy if you don’t get to see your loved one before burial. For example if they die overseas in a military conflict and there are no remains to view. I do believe in the value of that last viewing, of the emotional closure it allows. But me, I couldn’t watch as they closed the casket; I couldn’t watch as they lowered him into the ground. That much reality was too much for me. I was still in the distanced observation stage.

So be kind to yourself. Don’t set expectations on your grief. And don’t allow others to give you a time limit. We each have our own path to take. Just don’t take it alone.image

For Jenn

A friend recently lost her husband, a young man of 45. They have six children, two still in grammar school. Seeing her at the Vigil Service brought up so much pain … for me, for her, for her children.

When you experience a loss, even someone else’s loss, your own pain surfaces. You recognize the physical signs of brokenness. Your heart hurts for them. And this morning a poem came to me as they sometimes do, out of the deeps of feelings.

The heart breaks along the same line
when your heart-held love dies;
husband or son, adult or child
the pieces separate and breath
is shortened.
Cheeks tremble and the whole body follows
as people press upon you
to say hollow words filled with heaviness.
And then it arrives that moment of closing;
don’t look! you won’t survive.
Numb now but inwardly screaming you follow.
“I see people but where is he?
He should be here to comfort me
if I am broken.
But he is the why of all this pain.
Must I look – they expect it.
Too many grieving
How can I give?
I am empty.
Don’t ask of me, don’t ask;
I cannot mother you today.
But I do – I must – he would demand it.
And so I go on and love them for him; love him through them.”

My blessings and prayers surround you Jenn.

Hope in Seasons of Loss

traces of hope

How do I process my grief?
Does suffering have any meaning?
Do we live in a random chaotic universe?
Is it time to re-evaluate my understanding of “God”?

This book is for anyone who has suffered a loss – of safety, of one’s home, of health, of a loved one or a relationship, or of one’s faith … and found themselves asking, “Why?” And then wondering, “Who am I asking?” and hoping they were not alone.

http://www.amazon.com/Traces-Hope-Surviving-Grief-Loss/dp/1937943275

Don’t “But” my Grief

Reflections of a family member whose mother has died:

I’m in pain. I feel overwhelmed. I’m numb. I’m angry. So don’t “But” me. Don’t give me pious platitudes, “But she’s at peace.” Great – what the hell do I do now, I’m freaking out! “But she’s in a better place.” I’m glad, really I am. So where does that leave me? I’m all alone now! She was the strong one; how am I going to make it? “But she’s out of pain,” I’m thankful, God am I thankful! So can you help me with my pain, now? Because I can’t breathe too well, and it feels as if there is a golf ball lodged in my throat.

You just keep Butting me, trying to push me out of my grief. And I can’t say any of these things back to you. I can’t even form my thoughts, let alone voice coherent sentences. I am grieving damn it, just let me be!

And if I say “Thank you,” it really means take your “But” and move along because I’m not there yet.
Too often, when we have experienced a loss, people respond with well- meaning platitudes. These don’t really help you and you don’t need to feel bad for feeling this way. Also, maybe there is someone you know who needs to, gently, be told how you feel and perhaps you can just show them this reflection. Better than butting heads with them!
800px-Goats_butting_heads_in_Germany

Traces of Hope

Over the past few years I have used the opportunity offered by this blog to reflect on my journey of healing from the loss of my son. I thank all those who have reached out to me or shared their stories on this blog.

I have a new book coming out that tells the story of my healing journey and my journey through grief and loss if you are interested in my full story.

http://www.amazon.com/Traces-Hope-Surviving-Grief-Loss/dp/1937943275/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426982211&sr=1-1&keywords=Mona+villarrubia

STAY

untitled
STAY

Pull back the veil of fate
Does it have to be this hard
Does it have to be this way
Am I too late

There’s another day
Speak to your power
Speak to your hope
Smoke another cigar
Light another fire
Stay

Pull back the veil of fate
Walk through that door
It’s not too late
We wait for you each day
We say your words each night
We need your voice

Unwrap your fate
Undo your choice
Don’t let it be too late

Time

beauty-black-and-white-clock-eye-tears-time-Favim_com-89879 Image from thuland-hansen.no

This time of the year. Is it the right time? There’s not enough time. Do you have time for a …

We seem to be controlled by this thing called time. But what is it? It is simply a measurement of change and things change at different rates and hence time seems to go fast or slow but it doesn’t really. 

After a loss time seems to move inexplicably slowly. The clock’s incessant ticking in an otherwise silent room is an assault on your ears. What do I do now? Is it time to eat? Or did I eat already? What day is it? It’s still today? I was sure it must be tomorrow by now.

When the arrangements are all made and the services are all over there is only time, so much time. Can I fast forward to a year from now, two years, whenever the pain will be bearable? Sadly, no. And this is how time can be seen as a friend and not a villain. We need this slow time, this silent time. We need to listen inside ourselves and hear what is going on and we need to learn ways to cope. We need to reach out and find people and resources and that takes patience with ourselves and our pain, and, yes, it takes time. If we rush too soon back into a job where there is never enough time to get everything done, then we will be in danger of denying ourselves the sacred, silent, sorrowful time our hearts need.

This is a season of gift-giving, so be sure to give yourself the gift of time and allow your sorrow and your loss to heal at your own pace and in your own fashion, and of course in your own time.

 

Blessings to all…