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Grief is a process.

Updated: Mar 6, 2021

'Grief is a process, not a problem.

It is an essential and healthy coping process to loss.'

Quote from Dr. Jane Simington.

Grief has been an experience filled with awareness and wisdom, an embodied journey to profound love and passion for life that I too fought to embrace at times.

Grief is a guarantee in life, just as much as change is.

Animals grieve, Mammals grieve, and in some culture, it is taught that even our Earth grieves. As humans we are no different.

Grief is unavoidable, and if it was included in the education system, taught alongside of English, Science, History and Math. If it was, we would be less resistant to it, I know I would be.

Grief is an outcome of change, be it good or bad, it is present. Change happens, we cannot stop change no matter how hard we try at times. Even in seemingly small changes there is a brief moment of grief. When we change plans with someone there is possible grief, and even though it may not be life altering it is a part of life. It’s in these little griefs that we learn to navigate life and are prepared for larger griefs, such as Divorce, Betrayal, children leaving the home, and Death of loved ones.

We are all witness to huge loss around the globe, and even in our own homes now as we enter the second year of lockdown. The separation of friends and family creates grief, forced confinement creates grief. When we are looking to blame someone for this, we are in our own way trying to avoid the grief. We are all caught in the cycle of survival that really doesn’t create space for grief. Yet the even the necessity to survive creates grief.

Unfortunately, because we are not educated in grief when it arrives, we are confused as to what it is or how to be, or what to do.

A change took us out of our comfort zones into a sea of emotions, ranging from rage and anger to sorrow and pain. The world as we once knew it is no longer and we struggle to navigate this new world. We avoid it as much as possible in any way we can. We judge ourselves for failing, for not foreseeing the current situation.

I suspect all, like me have come up against Grief. The largest experience of my life has been grief over any other emotion, grief from trauma, moving around a lot, moving my kids around a lot, self-perceived failing as a parent. The moments my children pointed out my failures.

Grief is part of the human journey, and as mentioned above it is a process, not a problem. It is was not easy for me to allow this aspect of my life to be honored, to be witnessed and experienced.

In my studies and training I learned about ‘Disenfranchised Grief,’ it is commonly overlooked or not even recognized.

Making it a challenge to move through.

People offering their version of support make comments like:

“You didn’t see this coming, come on you had to see the signs!”

These comments come across to the one who is in the shock of maybe betrayal or discovering that their lifetime dream is no longer going to happen, or one has just been laid off from a job after 24 years, one year before pension kicks in as judgment.

Some in attempts to avoid others offering judgment offer it up first, “I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming” or “The signs were there but I didn’t want to believe them.”

There is grief when one tries to share a difficult moment, and comments like “you are focusing on the negative, start focusing on the positive and you will be fine”.

We need to be present for ourselves when grief shows up.

If we are present we will be able to process in a healthier way the essential part of present moment.

Elisabeth Kubler Ross lists the first five stages of grief in her book “On Death and dying”.

This was a result of the experiences she was witnessing in her patients.

Today Grief is a widely taught subject with many different versions of Elisabeth’s original findings combined with other research.

I am writing from my experience in my own life, I learned about a deep grief within that could not be pinpointed on one event, it was tied to a multitude of events that hampered my ability to be with change, this really confused me.

I struggled because the information available was about death and dying, I had not experienced any close death, nor was I dying.

Charles Whitfield’s book "Healing the Child within.' brought forward a connection for me between grief and every day experiences.

When betrayal visited the pain was as deep as any other pain, it was a death inside of a dream, of hopes and desires.

A death of security, safety and so much more than someone failing to keep their end of an agreement.

Who I was before the betrayal is gone.

I was lost in this vacuum of pain.

I didn't want to be here, I didn't want to do this work.

The heart broken in love opens like an archaeological dig into the past. The velocity of the fracturing draws you down, down, down through layers of feelings, strategies and beliefs that have been protecting your heart from a primeval pain.

The grief and longing of betrayed love come not from this particular loss alone, but from events much further back—from infancy and childhood, from our lineage, from the collective experiences of humanity, and perhaps beyond, from lifetimes or dimensions we can hardly comprehend. Sandra lee Dennis.

Paragraph above taken from:

For me the struggle was deep within and there was a pull towards something that I could not deny.

Something deep under the frozen wound was life.

A life I did not want!

A life I didn't feel I deserved.

I didn't deserve this betrayal and I didn't want to see the life beyond it.

The words of my teacher Dr. Jane Simington entered my mind "Grief is a process, not a problem" urging me, leading me to enter the process.

As I processed the myriad of highs and lows of this grief I gained access to wisdom.

Wisdom of things I overlooked or ignored.

A deeper connection to previous experiences that had afforded me the opportunity to grieve that I had judged as insignificant or told myself “it is what it is” with hopes to shut down the bodies physiology it's story….

If I had been educated in the understanding of Grief, I possibly would have had a bit of a foundation supporting the current grief.

I learned, it is okay to not be who I was before the betrayal.

I learned, I had not been present for myself and being present for myself was an asset I need.

I also learned, the betrayal may have been more about the other persons inability to be present with themselves.

I learned, I struggled with loving myself enough, with seeing myself enough, with being with my present moment due to the perceived versions of myself I had picked up along the journey.

I learned, I had unrecognized and unvoiced expectations of others that I would not want others to have of me. I learned that I had tied my happiness up in all these things.

Wounded people --- wound people!

Wounded people set expectations on unsuspecting wounded people and I was no exception to this.

This hurt to recognize.

This taught me that shame was tied to my grief.

Opening a new world of grief, grief for the loss of:

my perceived safety,

my confidant,

my companion,

my lover,

my friend.

Drove me deeply into despair, believing 'I was not worth of any of the above.'

I hadn’t prepared to be in this situation, I didn’t know how to be this person, or even if I could.

What physically happens in this situation is, the left and right brain stop communicating, I was logical or emotional not both.

Climbing out is a challenge, but possible.

Becoming curious is a good place to start.

I learned, there is no “steps” to go through in order, there are highs and lows that bring opportunity to see and experience myself.

I learned, that in order to continue to live required I evaluate what I want and did not want from this point on.

I learned, to love the aspects of me that no one had ever loved in a way I needed, thus separating the responsibility from outside of me and re-instating it within myself.

I began contemplating the invitation to heal, did I really want to?

Many moments I did not!

Yet I was still here, messed up and confused but still here.

Without focusing on what happened, not forgetting either, I began to be pulled towards the process of grief.

It was not quick; it was left and right turns when I thought I wanted to go straight ahead. I was pulled from within to let go of the need to do well and suffer in silence. I began openly expressing my journey honestly with myself from the place of owning, rather than blaming. This had great value.

I learned the pain was seeking validation, honoring and exploration from the adult in me, even though the inner child that had been parented 'not so good,' wanted a parent an outside person to do this for them.

For this I went to someone who had the skills and ability to walk with me through this journey.

Leading me towards setting an intention to heal.

A true commitment to me and my journey, actively participating in my present moment and my future.

Hellen Keller’s words: “the only way to get to the other side is to go through the door”

I got distracted along this journey many times and found I was more compassionate about the distractions, seeing them as rest breaks from the work of grief.

Reconnecting to life for a moment or too.

This was a sign that I was actively participating in life again, and at the moment of the betrayal I had checked out of life.

Unbeknownst to me, this became the foundation for the next event in my life.

The most important things I learned about Grief are:

  • It’s a process, not a problem.

  • Grief is normal and a part of life.

  • All events contain multiple events.

Betrayal contains loss:

  • Of safety

  • Confidence

  • Companionship – attunement

  • Self-esteem

  • A way of being

  • Normalcy

  • Familiarity

  • The left and right brain communication is interrupted.

  • Setting the intention to heal is a commitment to influence your healing journey

  • We are either an active participant or a passive witness.

  • Love moves us and continues to push us through the process.

  • Let go of the need to do well!

  • There is nothing shameful about grief.

  • Let go of the shame that pushes one to suffer in silence.

  • Step out of the “fake it to make it paradigm”

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