Grief; Healing my heart one piece at a time

Written by Amie on October 5, 2013 – 2:09 am -

my heart is on the outside of my body

My sweet doggy died unexpectedly a few days ago. My heart feels like it is broken into a million pieces. There was no warning, no time to plan a good bye. He was too young to go. But yet he did. One day he was a healthy, high energy, happy guy, the next he was gravely ill. How could this be? The grief is deep and it is raw. I grieve for him, and yet I feel I am grieving for all of the sad experiences I’ve ever been through. I feel I am grieving my brother’s death 6 1/2 years ago. I screamed when I found out my dog died, and that scream was so deep and so raw, I know I was grieving for more than my sweet dog. It feels as though my heart is on the outside of my body, as vulnerable as it can be. It doesn’t take much to send me into a heavy bout of crying. He should still be here, yet he isn’t. Wishing for something other than what is makes me suffer. But I continue to wish for things to be different. Accepting what is makes it feel too final. I’m not ready for it to feel so final. (and I ask myself, am I also still wishing for my brother to be here? I know the answer to that)

“what do I really know for certain?”

As each hour passes, I ponder the question, “what do I really know for certain?” And I keep coming back to, “not much, maybe nothing at all.” I do know love, I know it is the one constant. It is always there, even if hidden at times. I know I am breathing in this moment right now. But, in the big picture, what do I really know? Not much, maybe nothing at all. And so I keep pondering. Right when I think I know something for sure, it changes. So maybe I know nothing stays the same, everything changes. I know it is difficult to let go of those I love. It is difficult to let go of someone I thought would be around for as long as I needed. I know I relied on my dog a lot more than I realized. He brought a certain safety to my life. And he brought unconditional love. He loved me no matter how grumpy I was, he loved me even if I didn’t take him for a walk every time he wanted to go, he loved me no matter what I did. He was pure love. He showed me complete presence, he saw me for me. He felt my heart, he knew I loved him even when he stole my shoe or my peanut butter sandwich! He showed me truth. He felt my emotions and didn’t even complain when they were pretty heavy.

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Grief reminds me that I am alive and I am human

It feels as though each time I allow myself to really be with my grief, to really embody it, to really feel the pain, a piece of my heart comes back together. Each painful piece, one by one comes back to begin the process of repairing the whole. And I know from experience, once those pieces come back together, my heart will be stronger and more willing to be loving and vulnerable than it was before this sad experience. Grief is such a unique emotion. It encompasses so much. So many other emotions wrapped up in a deep energetic feeling in the body. It really opens me up to so many questions. At first it makes me question everything. Did I love my dog enough, did he know how much I loved him, why didn’t I do more, why didn’t I know something was wrong before he showed any symptoms, did I take him to the wrong place, was there something more I could have done….I went on and on. Until I realized that by focusing on this, I was distracting myself from the grief. I was distracting myself from the pain. Grief reminds me that I am alive and that I am human. There is so much emotion coursing through me, there is no question whether or not I am alive. Grief makes love feel bigger than ever, yet scarier than ever at the same time.

We just keep storing away experiences that hurt us

When I went to a grief ritual retreat a few months back, it opened my eyes to see how much we, as humans, have to grieve. We barely allow ourselves the time and space to grieve. There can be layers upon layers of unexpressed grief within one person. Generations of unexpressed grief is passed on to the next generation again and again, until people finally start allowing themselves to feel it and then begin to heal. There are times during this grief process when I feel deep grief, and I am not even sure what it is. It is a feeling deep inside my body I can’t explain, but I know for sure it is grief coming to the surface to be released. So much sadness covered by layers of protective reactions. We just keep storing away experiences that hurt us, too afraid to feel the pain. These experiences continue to store themselves in our bodies, our cells. Until we allow ourselves the time and space to really deeply feel the pain. Then the energy can be released, and our bodies begin to heal. We feel lighter each time we allow ourselves to heal.

I feel loved, nurtured and supported by those in my “tribe”

Losing my dog has been so difficult. But the one blessing shining through is that I have incredible people in my life who love me. People who are there for me and who allow me to grieve exactly as I need to. This makes this painful experience more bearable. The supportive loving people in my life have allowed me to have the process I need to have, they accept me and my feelings. Having loving people reminds me of the wonderful feeling I had at the grief retreat. I feel loved, nurtured and supported by those in my “tribe”.

in our own processes, yet still sharing the experience

In the Dagara tribe in Africa, grief is shared by all. When someone is suffering, the tribe supports them and nurtures them while they grieve. They stop what they are doing and they are present with the grieving person. This is what I loved. We didn’t tell each other, “it will be okay, it will get better, etc”. Instead, I processed my grief while there was always someone right there with me, not saying anything, just being there for me. There was not one doubt that someone was always standing behind me and had my back. We all were grieving together, in our own processes, yet still sharing the experience. There was beautiful singing the entire time, drumming, candles, and just a complete feeling of safety. I truly wish everyone could experience this, and that this would become the norm for all cultures. Grief is a very essential part of our existence.  Being a part of this ritual was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.

 

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Posted in Connection, Grief and dying, Healing & personal growth, Nurture yourself, Self-love | 3 Comments »

Unexpressed emotions,rage, and depression

Written by Amie on November 15, 2010 – 4:17 pm -

Admitting anger

I remember years ago when a therapist told me that depression happens when you turn your anger in on yourself. Instead of expressing your anger, you beat yourself up with your anger. You get angry at yourself for having anger! Okay, and? It sounded like a good theory, but then she never really showed me how to get to my anger, how to express what was really going on. More importantly, she didn’t help me learn to get past the GUILT of even thinking of admitting my anger. I would have outbursts of anger here and there, but then I would feel horribly guilty for expressing my anger. When I expressed my “anger” it was never really about what was happening at the time of my outburst. It was the accumulated rage and fury that I had repressed most of my life that would cause me to get to the point of “exploding”. I just didn’t know that at the time. Imagine how much rage someone has that was never allowed to express their truth, their opinions, their beliefs, who they really are. When the anger can no longer be contained, we take to beating ourselves up with self-hate, which in turn becomes depression. When something happens to us and we become depressed, it is almost always because we have not expressed our truth. I am speaking about “clinical” depression mainly, not necessarily “situational” depression. We hold back because we are afraid of not being loved, we are afraid to “be different” than those around us, or we have taken on the belief that what we have to say doesn’t really matter. We were not heard, therefore, why bother expressing ourselves?  When this happens, we feel defeated, as though it is worthless to even try to find a way to get our needs met.

The end of your rope

Anger that is not expressed, or emotions in general that are not expressed, start eating away at your insides. The anger becomes difficult to contain. If one doesn’t find a healthy way to express these emotions, physical illness happens, or one becomes so depressed that the only way out that they can see, is through suicide. I totally understand what it feels like to be at the end of your rope. I get it, I really do. It feels like there is absolutely not one thing that can change how you feel. After years of thinking that my depression would never let up, I can say from experience that it can, and it will let up, IF and WHEN you decide to allow yourself to be heard, and you allow yourself to feel. We all have the right to be seen and heard, and to be honored for who we are.

My anger repressed

One problem for me was that I had no idea how angry I really was (and I’m still working on it). I had no idea that my depression had to do with unexpressed feelings, which in turn created intense anger. I learned to ignore my REAL feelings, thoughts, beliefs, likes, dislikes, EVERYTHING that made me ME. Depression is the result of hiding who you really are. I don’t want to sound like I am over simplifying this at all. I know from experience, there is nothing simple about depression. Once I had one tiny inkling of the rage I felt underneath the depression, I began to see a tiny ray of light-like maybe there was really a light at the end of the tunnel, or at least a big enough space for me to get one toe in to begin the journey toward becoming whole-remembering who I really am.


Being afraid of your rage is normal

I want to tell you that being afraid to feel and being afraid of your rage is understandable. It is normal. I was scared to death to feel how angry I was. I am still working on releasing it. But I will also tell you that feeling the power of my rage empowered me! It reminded me of who I really am. When a person has been repressing emotions for years on end, it is a huge event when they take responsibility for their own well being, and begin to process emotions. It is difficult to give yourself the freedom and the permission to say, “this is who I am”, “this is what I want”, “this is the way it is FOR ME”, “this is what I choose”, “this is my favorite thing to do”. I want to let you know that you do have the power within yourself to take back your life. You have the power to throw away all of the BS that you have been fed all of these years! It is okay to start trusting yourself, and trusting the little voice inside you. It is ok to be angry and to feel the rage boiling beneath the surface. It is extremely important to find healthy ways to release the anger.

Shake your body without judgment!

I have talked about how important moving my body is when I feel strong emotions. It remains one of the best things I can do for myself when I am feeling stuck or overwhelmed with anger or strong emotions in general. I know what its like to not feel like even moving a toe when I was really deeply depressed. However, I want to encourage you to just stand up and shake every part of your body. Dancing is wonderful too, but if you don’t have the energy for that, just stand in one spot and shake. If you are in a place where you feel comfortable enough to make noise, it is also really helpful to make loud yelling, grunting,groaning noises-anything that comes up, just let it out! I know it sounds weird, but I think you will be so pleasantly surprised at how good it feels to do this! Also, I would recommend having someone to help you such as a therapist if you are stuck in the anger, or are afraid to release it. Namaste.

Love this video! Just one example of moving your body. Remember, there is no right or wrong, just move, even if you are just standing there shaking one foot and nothing else. The Power Wave Dance by Gabrielle Roth.

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Posted in Depression, Kids/teenagers and depression, Self-love | 7 Comments »
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