If you know anything about me, you know that I am no stranger to grief. Grief and I have travelled this road we call life together more times than I care to remember. At times, as we've journeyed, grief has been the one in the driver's seat. At other times, I have managed to take the wheel. The thing to remember, is that at any time, the roles can once again switch. They have many times, and in the reality of life's context, they will continue to do so.
When I use the word 'grief', I am not just talking about the grief caused by experiencing the death of someone I loved, although it has arrived as a result of that too many times. Grief comes wearing many masks. There's the grief that comes with the end of a long term relationship, whether it was amicable or not. There's the grief that comes with loss of trust, as when our faith is placed in the hands of another only to be lost or disregarded. There is the grief that comes with changes in life such as moves, employment changes or the end of long term friendships. There is the grief that can come when medical issues change our lives in ways that were not expected or foreseen. Grief comes to us with the loss of beloved pets, divorce and bankruptcy. Grief comes to all of us....he/she is the universal equalizer that all of use will see ourselves faced with at one point or another. So knowing that, how do we prepare ourselves to deal with grief?
Looking back over my life, I realize there are very few sources of grief that I have not experienced in my time, and for the most part have felt I've managed it fairly well through the years... or so I thought. So a couple of years ago, when a friend asked me if I could help a friend who was struggling with the loss of a child, just as I had, I looked at options that might help me help her, and at that time I discovered the Grief Recovery Method.
I bought the book, and signed up for a training that was being offered in Winnipeg to get my certification to be a specialist. I read the book, and readied myself for the course, but at the last minute the training was cancelled due to lack of registration. I continued to read the book, and even though the book does tell you that reading without action will do nothing, I simply read...no actions taken. I read to understand the method, but I did not do the needed work.
Fast forward 3 years, and while driving across the country in our move from Manitoba to British Columbia, I get an email from the Grief Recovery Institute that once again caught my attention and triggered my interest in looking further at the opportunity to train once more. As luck would have it, while we were only taking possession of our new home on April 15th, the training would be in Vancouver on April 21. The timing wasn't the greatest, but the opportunity couldn't be missed, so I plunged in.
One of the greatest things about the training is that as participants who are there to learn, experience and grow, we must go through the process and take all the necessary steps to complete a loss we've experienced, so that we can move forward ourselves, better able to help those that come to us for recovery.
I surprised myself by choosing to work on the loss of my first husband, Greg, rather than the loss of my son Shane, that in honesty, I felt would be my focus. I wasn't sure that I would find much that I needed completion on, as Greg's 18 month battle with cancer left us more than enough time to say the things that needed to be said to each other.
But in working through the method, and completing the communication that is so often the source of grief, I came to the realization that there were still many unfinished conversations. Surprisingly, through the process, I became aware of many things that I hadn't addressed for myself either during our marriage or in the years after his death.
When faced with the loss of a loved one, too often we either end to enshrine the person we lost, or demonize them...never seeing the true balance and reality of the relationship we lived with. I see now that in this situation, mine was a case of 'enshrinement'. The GRM supported me to see that relationship in a more holistic way.
It was both an eye opening and heart opening experience, that has brought me to a clearer, more settled and happier place than I have been in the last 15 years, and the completion freed me from things that I hadn't even realized were holding me back.
After going through my own loss history graph, then having chosen Greg, going through our relationship graph....I found that I had both many things that I felt the need to apologize for...but just as many things I needed to be able to forgive for.... That was truly an unexpected outcome in a situation where I really had 'enshrined' him for the past 15 years.
To be able to look at our relationship and our life together openly and say...'I apologize for....not better understanding the reality of life for someone living with a bi-polar diagnosis....for the amount of time that my focus on our son's needs took away from yours...for pushing your boundaries of comfort further than you were able to accept...
Then the forgiveness....that was harder! I forgive you for...not giving me the detailed answers to questions that we both knew would be issues for me moving forward..ie water, hydro...and on. For leaving me to explain your final bequest decisions..decisions that I understood through our conversations..but that I should not have had to be the one left to explain to others..nor should I have had to live with the fallout from.... that. Forgiveness for the unspoken pressure to live your dream for a future that you wouldn't be here to experience...but a dream that was not mine, but rather yours.
But after the apologies and the forgiveness that defines the process, comes the 'SES"...Significant Emotional Statements....and I won't go into all of those...but suffice it to say, they did go on and on. Having truly seen his downfalls as well as my own, I also say the picture of the life that was our's, in all it's magnificent glory. and its challenges. there are not words to describe that.
In having gone through that and completed what I had to so I could become certified to help other's work through their own losses, I know first hand the benefits of spending the time and taking the action steps necessary to move ourselves forward can move our lives forward. In experiencing the changes and growth in myself having completed just one loss, I am excited to see what other possibilities will open up as I continue to work through and complete the losses that have caused me to experience grief throughout my life.
If you suspect that grief may be holding you back from living your life more fully and joyfully, this process could be a first step to your own healing and recovery. Remember, grief is the normal and natural emotional response to loss, but most of the information we’ve learned about dealing with loss is intellectual. Effective Grief Recovery must deal with your broken heart, which requires emotional support instead of intellectual explanations. Let me help you begin to heal your own broken heart.
It takes time and energy to become who we truly are! In life, so many things can get in the way of our figuring that out..but the time comes in each of our lives where we need to be able to do that if we're going to live happy fulfilling lives that are authentic reflections of our best selves. These are just things I've learned along the way. I hope that they might help you in your own journey into being Truly You!