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Insights On Loss/Grief

If you wish to receive help in the grieving process please feel free to
contact me for an in person or on phone consultation.

Loss/Grief, what is it and how can I avoid it?

Would you agree, like it or not, that change is a constant in everyone's life? Sometimes change is disruptive and destructive and sometimes we actually like it. With every change, positive or negative, there is a loss. Every loss results in a process called grief, an emotional response that allows healing. Just as we can't prevent, stop, or avoid change in our lives, we can't avoid grief either. That being said, the human heart still screams, " I want a way out, I want a better way, I want to avoid pain."

" Pain is inevitable but misery is optional." In my experience the more we resist something, the more power it has over us. A "better way" may be to see that grief is really a healing process. Grief has a beginning, when loss first happens. It has a middle, when we decide we are ready to gently, and small doses, allow the feelings to surface. Then with the support of good friends who do not tell us how to feel, and who give us permission to be angry, sad, hopeless, etc., we reach what might be called the end. This is where you experience the love and joy within us that those "painful feelings" kept hidden. We can't avoid the loss and grief, but we can choose when and how we will deal with it. The choice is ours and whatever we chose is OK. Just remember it is ALWAYS our choice.

Barbara Claire, M.Ed, Certified Grief Counselor

Why would I choose to allow myself to feel my pain of loss?

Whenever you experience a change, there is a loss of something. With every loss there is an emotional response called grief. Even if we don't acknowledge our bodies' reaction to loss, it has still affected us on some level. As a grief counselor I have found that many people are in pain because of unresolved losses. Again, we have a choice.

We can smile and deny what's happened, become extremely busy and distract yourself, or do any number of things which allow us to put off acknowledging what happened. Some of us become shop-aholics, work-aholics, volunteer-aholics, and have no idea that we're experiencing emotional pain.

Our feelings, however, have to go somewhere. What often happens is either we allow our bodies to become toxic which eventually leads to illness, or we project onto others those feeling we don't want to deal with in ourselves. That may take the form of anger at the people around us, seeing our situation as hopeless, blaming people, places and things for our experience of loss. It is also quite common to use sex, alcohol, or food to avoid painful feelings. Ask yourself if what you are doing is really working for you. If it is, you aren't ready to allow the grieving process to begin...and that's OK.

Some of us aren't even aware of how much pain we are in or why. When we stop and see that the consequence of stuffing, denying, and avoiding the feelings only brings more pain and is only adding to our discomfort and misery, we will be ready to allow the experience of healing. Knowing we can cry and feel better may be a better choice than becoming ill or hurting others through our anger and blame. What ever choice we make is up to us. Only we can decide when and how.

Barbara Claire, M.Ed, Certified Grief Counselor

How do I go about allowing painful feelings to surface?

The first step in allowing healing through the process of grieving- allowing painful feelings to surface- is to be able to identify and acknowledge your loss. We have all experienced many losses on many levels that we aren't even aware of. We are more aware of the pain we are in then the loss that is behind it.

Death and divorce are obvious losses and even in these experiences we fight to deny, delay, and avoid acknowledging them. It is just as important to identify and acknowledge the less obvious losses. Some of these losses are health, money, important relationships, your dreams, goals, expectations, even unreturned phone calls and letters. The list could go on and on.

If we think about it, there were probably times when we did acknowledge some of these less obvious losses and we did express sadness, regret, sorrow, anger, and maybe even fear. If we were fortunate enough to have understanding friends or family to listen and hear our story, witness our feelings, we probably felt much better and the loss didn't stay or upset us as much as it could have.

On the other hand if we've built up losses upon losses that still hold power over us, that we haven't acknowledged to ourselves, we could be experiencing pain, depression, stress, hopelessness, or just an overall general feeling of dissatisfaction with everything. In my experience unresolved grief issues, painful feelings that have been denied, are the root of many peoples' problems.

Maybe we lost a parent at a very young age, or were abused as a child, or had a parent that was not emotionally available to us. There are many losses involved in these issues that often go unaddressed and aren't even recognized until problems occur. Some of these problems show up as unhealthy relationships or addictions. That's why the first step in allowing healing is to BE WILLING to identify and acknowledge our losses. It's a beginning step that can lead to a healthier us, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Barbara Claire, M.Ed, Certified Grief Counselor

Why do we resist feeling feelings/grieving?

Looking at the world we live in today it seems we are all about quick fixes and seeking pleasure, money, and fame to make us feel good. There is not much support for feeling pain. We are told to take two of this or that and we'll feel better. I'm not against help for pain but sometimes we are so steeped in avoiding pain at all costs that it really takes some motivation and undoing before we are willing to accept the fact that covers don't always work. So if we resist feeling feelings that are painful, don't be surprised. Every thing in our culture today encourages us to do just that. It is only when the covers don't work that we might be willing to find a better way.

If our covers aren't working for us, consider that some part of us is ready to take another step and seek help and support in allowing our healing to bring us to an experience of love and joy underneath the pain. If we don't have non-judgemental friends to tell your story to we might consider writing our feelings down. It's just between us and the paper and it does take those feelings out of our head. Write until we've said everything we need to say in that moment. We will feel better and a weight will have been lifted.

It does take courage to feel painful feelings. The results can be worth it and if we choose to stay where we are, it too is OK. Fighting against ourselves is not the answer.

Barbara Claire, M.Ed, Certified Grief Counselor