Sunday, August 15, 2010

The L word

Nope, not that L word! This L word is Loss. Loss is something everyone experiences, no matter how old or young you are, where you come from, how much money you have or don't have, what your upbringing was, etc. Loss is a part of life, as much a part of life as joy is. There are small losses and there are large losses, and there are just as many responses to loss as there are ways of losing. I am beginning to learn that how we deal and cope with loss is SO very important, on so many levels. Loss is a part of one's spiritual journey, and in my case, the catalyst for it. And even though I continue on my spiritual path and continue to raise in consciousness, I must admit that coping with loss seems to be my ultimate challenge. I am (up to this point) not very good at it! I won't lie. I like to think that I am, but I'm not. Especially when the loss is traumatic and life changing.

Grief is defined as the emotional response to loss. I began my journey with grief almost 9 years ago, when my mom died. Actually, probably way before that, as grief isn't experienced only with death, but with any loss that has an impact on you- abandonment, loss of job, divorce, loss of pet, moving away, or even something such as a loss of status. But the grief that still lingers with me is the grief due to the loss of my mom. And though it has been almost 9 years (I can't even believe that), sometimes the pain is a fresh as I remember it being when I was 19. 

Psychologists and other professionals have gone further to classify grief due to loss through death as bereavement. When I look up bereavement (which brings to mind pictures of old, sad and wrinkly ladies wearing black veils over their faces while huddled in the rain), I am met with many different definitions, symptoms and "cures" for this state. Most of the information is very clinical, and in my experience with it, not very helpful. In looking it up online, one site looks at it like a disease, with symptoms, treatment plans and timelines ("some milder symptoms may last for a year or longer," which makes it seem like it's chicken pox and eventually it will "clear up"). Ha. Another site clearly defines bereavement, it's many forms, and what one can do for help, and yet another talks about the ramifications on the body and mind if one stays in a state of prolonged grief, and the reasons why one might stay in this state.

As I read all of this information, a part of me wants to throw something at the computer, another part of me wants to cry, and another part of me worries that I will never "get over this" because I have, and continue to do, all of the things that are suggested. And I'm still struggling. Granted, I have come SO far, and healed many things around my grief, but at the end of the day, it still seems to come down to the fact that my mom is not alive. I know that everyone's experience is different, so I'm trying not to judge mine, but it isn't always easy. I don't know if I am holding onto my grief because it connects me to my mom, or  bc there is something that I just haven't tapped into that needs to be healed and released. I often feel very isolated bc the death of a mom isn't something that is fun to discuss, isn't as socially acceptable to talk about as say, breaking up with a boyfriend, and a topic that (gratefully) most of my friends and family don't understand. The support available to me, in the form of information (such as Kubler-Ross' and others' writings) and emotional support from my amazing life coach, have helped me so much. And from a spiritual point of view, I have been told to meditate, Gestalt (a form of therapy) with my mom' soul, reframe my judgements and the way I hold my mom's death, and realize that the love I had with my mom doesn't ever go away, and that it's not attached to her, it comes from me. And that is all wonderful. But there is still a piece of all this that is missing. It has been suggested to me that the issue might lie in me judging losing my mom as a "bad" thing, and I would very much like to stop viewing it as such. But I don't think I am that spiritually evolved yet!

I am on this journey of discovering ways to truly heal from a very deep loss, and though there are wonderful tools out there, sometimes I feel like I am paving my own path through the dense jungle with my machete. I hope to find ways new ways to help myself through the grieving process, so that I can help others as well. Or maybe my opinion of the process will change, and I will see it for what it is: a process. One day is up, another day is down, and that's all ok.

How do you deal with loss and/or grief, in any form? What helps you? I would love to hear your stories.

Thanks for reading!