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Grief and Loss, Matters of the Spirit, Self-Help

Allowing Grief To Heal You; Emerging From The Shadows of The Past

Grief comes to us when we lose something that we cherish. It could be a loved one, it could be a marriage. We grieve when we lose a highly-regarded job; we suffer when we experience a massive financial loss. Perhaps we lose what we feel is a powerful position in life; maybe it’s our celebrity that is lost, or it could be a group of friends in which we were the central figure. Whatever it is that we hold in high esteem, whatever we possess that gives us a greater sense of self-worth, when we lose it, we are stricken by grief. And the kind of grief that we suffer speaks volumes about our dysfunctional thoughts.

There are many who suffer one or more of the major setbacks that I’ve mentioned above, and who do not allow themselves to go through the grief process. Instead, they ‘soldier on’, keeping a ‘stiff upper lip’, refusing to acknowledge the pain of their loss. In doing this, they internalize a ferocious series of emotions that create havoc in the body, resulting in ill-health. And not only have these people denied themselves a healthy life; they have also turned their backs on a deeply transformative process that, while intensely painful, is also the key to a profoundly liberating awareness of life.

Grief, as I learned through the loss of my son, is not everything it seems to be at first glance. We tend to attribute our suffering only to the loss of someone or something dear, but I found out that the traumatic events of the present have sinister links to the past. Grief, it turns out, is the dark force that takes you on an inner journey of spiritual transformation. Take my own story as an example.

For a long time, in my own mind, I existed in the shadows that my family cast. My husband Lance, my son, my daughter; all of them were shining lights and I held them high on a pedestal. I’d always wanted children like Zak and Annabel, the confident type, the kind who walked to the beat of their own inner drummer. Lance had always exuded confidence, and at the beginning of our relationship, I found it intimidating. Personal power in other people seemed to have that effect on me; I’d shrink inwardly, and wish I wasn’t afraid all the time. I was proud of my family, but it was an unhealthy pride; it was one that looked upon them as something I could never be. I felt small compared to them. They were perfect, strong, they belonged in the world. They had something to offer, they stood out. When we were all together when the children were young, there were times when I hung out on the sidelines, watching them play, watching them talk. In those moments, I didn’t feel like I was one of them. I felt fortunate to be in a family like this, and deep down I ‘knew’ in my heart that I’d ‘simply struck lucky’. That small invisible girl just happened to get noticed by someone special, and luckily her kids turned out to be like him.

It took a long time to mentally move out of the shadows. By taking on some very difficult life challenges, delving into my inner life, and succeeding in ways I never thought possible, things got better for me. I developed into a corporate trainer and ran my own company. I became a metaphysical teacher, a healer and a writer, and my self-confidence grew in spades. I began to feel worthy of my family members and I even began to take credit for their emotional and spiritual health.  Things were going well for me. I was healed of my past. Or so I thought.

In May of 2007, when my 21 year-old son died in a car accident, all the lights went out in my world. I didn’t cope well at all. For three and a half years, I teetered precariously on the brink of suicide. I suffered panic attacks, depression and I wouldn’t participate in family events, I refused to go out, and I was angry with everything and everyone. I lost all interest in anything of this world. I completely lost all sense of who I was as a person. My heart and soul were so heavy, I could barely get up every morning, and every waking moment found me obsessed with death. As it turned out, I suffered from all the symptoms of what the psychology profession calls complicated grief.

According to research, the majority of people who have lost a loved one through death or divorce, or have lost a revered life-style, experience normal grief and bereavement; they undergo a period of deep sorrow, numbness, anger, and in some cases, guilt. These feelings fade, however, after a few months of acute mourning, and though people in this category continue to be sad, and deeply miss their loved one, they find themselves able to accept their loss and somehow find a way to move forward in life.

However, in 15-20% of cases, the grief reaction is much more intense; it is painful and debilitating and so severe, that it totally disrupts the person’s normal functioning in everyday life. Complicated grieving, I must point out here, does not in any way indicate a greater love for the deceased, a divorced spouse or a greater appreciation for a lifestyle that is lost. What it does indicate however, is a need to confront an important issue, a need to acknowledge a former loss.

In my case, every aspect of my grief was tied up with my past. I lost my childhood innocence at a very young age, and in my teenage years had become a parent to my young brother and sister. My parents were completely wrapped up in their own marital dramas and neglected their duties as full time carers to their children. These issues had major implications in my life as an adult, and more importantly they had created a road barrier in the spiritual journey that I was taking. Just before Zak’s death, I had reached an impasse in my spiritual life. My journey had shuddered to a halt, leaving me bereft. In losing my son, I was forced to confront the issues that stood in the way.

Losing Zak had opened up every sealed compartment in my mind, and had dragged out every demon that had found refuge in obscurity. I learned through my grief why I’d hidden in the shadows of my family. I discovered why I was so mistrustful of life. I realized through the grief process that as insightful as I had become, I would unconsciously refuse to listen to my own inner voice or trust my widening perceptions. Through losing Zak and going back to my past, I began to see through different eyes. All illusion fell away and I started to see the truth about life, and who I was beyond the physical, the emotional and the mental planes of existence.

At the physical level, I learned that I mourned the loss of Zak for some very unhealthy reasons. I’d had him on a pedestal; he was popular, well-loved by everyone and talented in many ways. I’d basked in his reflected glory, and when he was gone, felt small, useless and empty of grace.  The carpet was pulled out from under me. Through his death, I was forced to see my own light, and recognize my own achievements. Out of the shadows, the light revealed to me how much I was loved and needed by those around me, how my role in life was a critical link in life’s intricate chain.

Complicated grief is an issue for many people who suffer from lack of self-love. When we cling to an external source to validate our existence, whether it is a person, or a lifestyle, the loss will leave us reeling. The loss will bring us to our knees, empty us, and when the time is right, the grief will take us to a place where we reconnect with our authentic selves.

Complicated grief is purposeful. A troubled past is one that has a voice. It speaks to us of ideas we were burdened by and ideas about the self that need to die. Who we were then, is tied up with who we are now. The death of those we love or the death of a way of life is finely interwoven into the fabric of the past, present and future. Grieving is a healthy process, albeit a terrible one. It reconnects us with the spirit of life, it opens our eyes and it renews the soul. If you’ve lost something important to you, allow yourself to grieve. It will be the healing of you.

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About Yaz

Hi Everyone! Please check out my site. There you'll find a range of subjects on which I've expressed my world view. I always challenge myself and others to move out of their point of view and try seeing things from another perspective. Your point of view will always be there if you don't like mine! And I'd love to hear from you. Perhaps you'll shift something in me. This is the journey to the True Self and I love it. Lots of love to you all!

Discussion

18 thoughts on “Allowing Grief To Heal You; Emerging From The Shadows of The Past

  1. Your spirit shines in everything you write as you have been able to get into a state of high awareness and grace after all your challenges. Much love to you.

    Posted by sufilight | November 16, 2012, 12:34 am
  2. A stunning and powerful piece of writing. Well done my lovely friend. This message will help everyone that reads it. Peace and love. Xx

    Posted by Jools | November 16, 2012, 1:11 am
  3. Yaz, your posts always seem to bring me to tears, they cut so deep. your pen is very powerful, & reading you fills me with love & gratitude ❤

    Posted by carolineskanne | November 16, 2012, 2:10 am
  4. Yaz, you are one incredible woman. A woman of deep substance, caring and highly intelligent. Combining this with your intuition has given you a fine gift indeed. Your story of loss is deeply felt by everyone who reads of your journey. Thanks for being willing to go to the abyss, climb your way out and share your story.

    Posted by Candia Sanders | November 16, 2012, 2:22 am
  5. You are a wonderful story teller who speaks from her heart.
    Thank You again for your grace; your posts have all been very insightful, meaningful and, as far as I am concerned, they speak a universal truth…
    You are loved, Yaz; for you…!

    Posted by carolynpageabc | November 16, 2012, 2:36 am
  6. Yaz when I read ‘you’ I know I read truth, and honesty. So much of what you write resonates within me and finds a home within me. Thank you for sharing your truths. Your healings. I’m sorry for your sufferings. I’m grateful for you.

    Posted by Chatter Master | November 16, 2012, 1:20 pm
  7. You are a very strong and wise woman and I cannot fathom how horrible your suffering must have been/is. Thank you for sharing this.

    Posted by oxherder | November 16, 2012, 3:33 pm
  8. Yaz I’m so sorry for the loss of your precious son. I cannot begin to imagine what you have been through. Your words express powerfully where one must be willing to go in order to begin true healing. Bless you for the healing you have done around losing your son and returning to your past to heal the shadows that were keeping you stuck. I’m so blessed to have found you and your gift of writing and sharing. Wishing peace to fill your heart! xoxo

    Posted by Suzanne McRae | November 17, 2012, 3:29 am
  9. Yaz, this is brilliant. I soaked it all up, fully.

    I have never heard of complicated grief, and when you speak of losing your son, I ache. I fear enormously to lose Daniel in any such way – like you say, a car accident : how avoidable, is that…

    Yaz, I am stunned you are fully functioning now because to be honest with you, I have always felt if I lost Daniel… my God… he truly is the only one I love, Yaz; it’s the truth. So what am I meaning in that? All my love being in Daniel, will die with Daniel? God, don’t even want to think about it, but you are amazing to have got through that. I admire you so much, Yaz.

    Also, I appreciated hearing about your past. You seem so glowing well confident now. I shrunk in amongst my family also. I felt invisible. Wow, Yaz. Amazing.

    Blessings 🙂 N.

    Posted by WordsFallFromMyEyes | November 17, 2012, 5:16 pm
  10. my 28 yr old son died 11/8/11 and the grief u speak of has weighted me still now,i have been hospitalized with high blood pressure with no reason except my broken heart, i am in the same state of mind u were ,almost debilitating,i have no money so its difficult to find professional counciling,but the way u described the complicated grief is hitting a big cord with me,,my mother died 6 months before my son so ..5 yrs before that i miscarried a baby ai my age 43 that i truly wanted so there r so many things to think about ,and i always felt like a wall flower growing up and like u with the kids ,my boys were very popular and i stood behind that as a proud mom,i am in need of a friend and consolement from someone as u thatknows and has been there.i am 48 yrs old not married but have lived with a man for 7 yrs that doesnt have children or deal with issues ,let alone deep issues as these,i feel alone battling this and am finding it to be all up hill,please find it in your heart to reach out to me cause lord knows i need alot of help,i am not a very spiritual person,and this has only made me question it more,i see me in your story so out of everything i have seen,thank u for your time and i am sorry for your loss,,sincerely donann gleason

    Posted by DonAnn Gleason | November 27, 2012, 11:05 pm
  11. This is so powerful. I lost my son recently and this really struck home. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Posted by Kathy | November 28, 2012, 1:26 am
  12. UR KIND WORDS SEEM TO ALWAYS MAKE ME FEEL JUST ALIL BETTER I ALSO LOST MY SON TO ON MAY 3RD 2012 TO GUNS N HE WAS ONLY 16YR OLD MISSING HIM SO MUCH WILL ALWAYS HAVE A HOLE IN MY LIFE NOW.

    Posted by Monique | November 28, 2012, 9:59 am
  13. Wow Yaz,
    I had no idea. My admiration for you is seven fold, seven now. YOU are who I want to be. The center of all I strive for… taking something so horrific in your life and turning it into all that is hlepful and good…an example of what true strength is.. a shining light… those who can relate in a small way, see you and believe in HOPE.
    I am in awe of your power.

    Posted by coastalmom | December 2, 2012, 12:16 pm
  14. “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
    ― Rumi

    You are simply the best. I am sorry about Zak. I am grateful for you.

    Posted by journeyman1977 | December 3, 2012, 12:33 pm
  15. Yaz, your vulnerability is so powerful and I relate to so much of what you’ve written.
    Thank you for giving names to the different types of grief. For many of us, being able to name it gives hope of recovering from it.
    The death of a child must be the absolute worst experience, I am so sorry for that loss. Thank you for sharing Zak and your journey of healing his loss.

    Posted by Denise Hisey | December 6, 2012, 8:04 pm
  16. I read something you wrote on another blog… a comment. And wanted to read more of what you’ve written. So I can here, and found this piece. It seems to me that what you’re saying makes a lot of sense. My best wishes to you, and may you enjoy all the heights as well as the valleys of sorrow. That’s life, the ups and the downs of it.

    Posted by ShimonZ | January 5, 2013, 11:16 pm
  17. beautiful post…..

    Posted by daily life impressions | February 12, 2013, 3:41 pm

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  1. Pingback: Allowing Grief To Heal You; Emerging From The Shadows of The Past | Bryan Hall – Spiritual Electrician Blog - November 16, 2012

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