When Grief is Too Much To Bear

Is your grief and loss feels like too much to bear?

If so, it’s more essential than ever to take care of your self. The stress of a major trauma or loss can instantly deplete your energy and emotional supplies.

If outside your capacity already, an experienced therapist can help you work through the severe emotions and overcome obstacles to your grief work.

Funny thing, when I write stuff like this, I feel a little dated … somewhat soap boxish. I sense there’s a whole gang of macho men out there possibly making fun of me and my feelings talk.

If a little confession will help, I openly admit that I did try to suppress my grief over my life’s share of losses. Yet surely I discovered that I can’t really avoid facing my feelings forever.

It’s true for all of those who come for therapy and counseling. In order to heal, a grieving person have to acknowledge the pain.

Trying to avoid the feelings of sadness and loss and processing them completely only prolongs the grieving process.

Unresolved grief, incomplete grieving, can lead to complications such as depression, alcohol or drug abuse, fears, anger, and a host of health/medical conditions.

Grief can be very lonely.

Even when you have family members or loved ones and friends around, grief can still feel overwhelming.

Sharing your sorrows with a therapist and with others who have experienced similar losses can help move you on faster and more safely.

If you follow a religious tradition, embrace the comfort that spirituality can offer you. Spiritual activities such as praying and going to church can offer solace.

Nicolas

It took over 40 years for Nicolas to really see what happened to him when his mother put him down. In our session, Nicolas was sharing that his mother is used to tell him he’s stupid or he will not amount to anything, like his father. On a recent visit, she criticizes or judges him again.

That time and each chance, Nicolas feels angry, confused, and helpless as though he’s 7 years old again. It’s a horrible feeling that he continues to experience till now. Therapy helps him discover his compulsive regression to a younger age whenever his mother mistreats him.

Psychotherapists call the phenomenon “age regression.” It means going back, repeating an ancient pattern of reaction. It’s autopilot reversion to an earlier survival mechanism. Often, one age regress when hurt by an authority or loved one, such as parents. During this, one becomes dysfunctional, helpless like a child, or out of one’s Real Self.

From countless individuals who see me in therapy, I hear and witness such age regression too commonly among those with shame and pain. And I’ve become convinced that one of the best ways out of this prison of the self is to tell the story of the trauma to safe, loving, supportive others.

In my work with Nicolas, I hear him tell his story and share his shame to me. By such process, his predicaments and pain are validated. He is unconditionally accepted as he is. His exposed wounded self, with all of its weaknesses and struggles, is helped to heal its shame. Doing so also helps me as a fellow traveler in the human journey.

Grieving Completely

Every human being experiences loss in various times of the life span. It’s an inevitable and universal experience. Yet, ironically, despite its frequent or common occurrence, we know very little about healing from it.

Grieving in the different times of my life, what I know is, I’d always wanted to recover. I sought help from all available sources. I attended support groups. I read books, pamphlets, articles. I exercised and applied techniques to my self. I talked with a doctor, clergy, counselor, friends.

Still, after I’d done all these, I remained facing the reality that our society in general is ill-equipped to heal grievers.  The available information and support are either lacking or not sufficient. I don’t want to paint a bleak picture because there are doctors and helpers who do extraordinary work to help people heal. Yet there is no accurate or comprehensive educational techniques for practical grief work despite presence of some books and seminars.

In my own practice, grief counseling and therapy is a constant challenge. I’ve always witnessed how often unresolved grief can accumulate pain over time in people’s lives. Whether the grief was caused by death, divorce, or some type of loss, “incomplete grieving” does have a lifelong effect on a person’s capacity for happiness and well-being.

Now what can be done about it?  Society does not educate us to deal with loss but rather to acquire and get attached to things. But I say that there are ways to expedite healing and recovery from whatever type of grief.  It’s revolutionary, and does not “begin in man and end in man.”