I’m trying to deal with a lot of unprocessed grief at the moment and wanted to share a couple of things that I’ve found helpful.
This little video, Why grief is not something you have to get over offers a perspective that really makes sense to me. The counsellor in the video talks about how the therapeutic model for working with grief is shifting, from seeing grief as something that gets less over time, to something that’s always there, but that other aspects of your life can grow around. So, while the grief doesn’t go away, it isn’t so all-consuming. But you can dip back into it at certain times, which brings me to the next point.
@hallygrace posted a long thread on twitter about the concept of re-grieving. Hallygrace makes the point that grief can be a life-long emotional process and you are likely to experience it again and again, especially at significant moments (anniversaries, life milestones etc). Here’s the tough bit, you have to re-process it every time. It’ not a good idea to repress the feelings or shame yourself for having them.
I wake with my hand held over the place of grief in my body.
“Depend on nothing,” the voice advises, but even that is useless.
My ears are useless, my familiar and intimate tongue.
My protecting hand is useless, that wants to hold the single leaf to the tree
and say, Not this one, this one will be saved.
~ Jane Hirshfield
Depression snuck up on me and took over my life these last few weeks. I had so many things I wanted to do, blog posts to write, books to read, people to catch up with. Instead, I just about managed to do the essentials at work and stagger home in the evenings to sit on the sofa and watch Star Trek.
This particular bout of depression got me thinking about how to identify that I am depressed and then how to support myself through an attack. Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that my own depression is probably transposed anger. Rage always seems close to the surface when I’m depressed, which suggests to me that it’s the underlying emotion in my case. Growing up, I had a lot to be angry about in my life, but middle-class girls are not allowed to express anger in healthy or assertive ways, so like a lot of them, I turned my anger against myself and, inevitably, depression, self-harm, and eating disorders followed. I hate the depression, but maybe it’s easier to cope with than facing up to my anger and the causes of that anger. Right now I’m dealing with the emotional fall-out from a very difficult holiday period which brought up a lot of issues around my family. In fact, I think I’m just starting to really get to grips with what really happened in my family, something that has only started to become possible since I’ve lost the buffer-zone represented by my father.
As a rule, I try and avoid putting too much personal information on this blog, although I’m sure you can infer a lot about me from my posts, and some of you have been reading my (more or less personal) blog incarnations for years.
Anyway, we all have things happen in our lives that are so big they impact on everything else and there’s really no point in trying to hide them. This is one of those times for me. I’ve just found out this week that my father is dangerously ill and unlikely to live long. We may have a couple of months, but realistically speaking, he could leave us anytime now. I’m very close to my father, so this is going to be a huge change in my life.
As far as possible I’m trying to carry on with my regular activities, but I have no idea what effect it will have on my blogging here. I may feel the need to blog more, or less, or just more erratically, during this period and my interests could change.
I do feel like I’m entering into a strange new phase of my life.