Wishing you all a very Happy New Year from me to you.
Lots of love and special hugs
I’d like to share something I personally struggle with around this time of year. I struggle with the emotions I feel at losing family members, my parents and especially, my Mother. My Mother has been gone a while now but I still miss and grieve for her. Christmas as well as all the other holidays, birthdays, etc, can invoke lots of emotions. Grieving for someone can last years, everyone grieves differently and it doesn’t fully go away, no matter how long your love ones have been gone.
Unfortunately I have lost a lot of family members, death, dying and loss were never explained to me as a child. It was never discussed or talked about much and as such I have struggled over the years to come to terms with it. There was this attitude of “its done just move on and get on with it”. This has lead to suppressing emotions over the years. There is no blame, my parents weren’t told either so they did the best they could.
With me there always seemed to be something that triggered my emotions, every year, around Christmas, without fail. The other day I accidentally dropped my Mother’s wooden bowl and a bit chipped off. I was quite surprised with my reaction.
First there was shock and how did that happen?! I just stared at the bowl on the floor in disbelief. Then anger with myself for being clumsy. Internal dialogue that went something like: “You broke Mum’s bowl! The special one that held the special wooden fruit in it! The one you had kept safe for over 15 years! That bowl has traveled interstate and not broken! How could you do that, especially now! Good grief! You held onto it to pass it on to one of the kids” with a few choice words mixed in for good measure.
After a while of just standing there, ranting and raving in my head, I picked up the bowl and the bits of wood and hoped I could fix it and it would be ok. Of course, even if it could be fixed, it would never be the exact same, and the memory of the incident would be there too.
After all that came the crying and lots of it! Obviously I didn’t have my Therapist hat on!
Ok, Therapist hat back on…
Breathing now and calmly reflecting back on the incident I realize that there was a lot I learned from it. I first had to acknowledge my emotions; it was okay for me to be shocked, angry, upset and I still feel abandoned. Acknowledging your feelings is a step towards self realization and healing.
The biggest insight for me was that I was still holding onto my Mother or at least what I thought was a part of her. I need to let things go. Even if I fix the bowl, it will never be the way it was, just as things are not the same without her. I will always miss her, I still sometimes get angry and upset that she’s gone and I am finding a way to be in the present and not the past.
When I look at my internal dialogue there are a lot of key words that jump out to me: special, safe and broken. My Mother was very special to me, she made me feel special, safe and sometimes I feel broken without her.
So many times we stop ourselves from crying when in fact it is very healing and therapeutic to do so. I released a lot of energy by crying it out. The Therapist in me wanted to dig a bit deeper to find some more clarity and answers; I have since had a dialoguing session (an Art Therapy tool) with my Mother and it has helped tremendously.
I discovered that I am capable of making myself feel special and safe, and I can fix anything that I perceive to be broken. My Mother will always be around me and it’s ok for me to have these feelings. I give myself permission to feel lost and abandonded sometimes and safe and special other times! I feel empowered by this knowledge and for now I’ve found some peace.
It’s still going to take time to heal and I keep finding ways to cope. An example is making a memory box about your loved one. You can draw pictures, write letters and keep special things in this box to help you express your feelings; expressing your thoughts and emotions, rather than holding it in helps with the healing process.
This incident was a lot like the grieving process itself. When you grieve you go through five stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Denial is where you’re in shock and you don’t believe it, you might feel anger about your loved ones leaving. Bargaining is where you say things like “If you let them stay I promise I’ll do ……”, depression when it’s starting to sink in that they are gone and finally you can feel acceptance about their passing.
You can go through these stages at different times, and you can go back and forward between them and they don’t always happen in this order. Be kind and patient with yourself.
I hope this has helped anyone who goes through similar issues. There is a light at the end of the tunnel! If you would like more information about how Art Therapy can help with grief or any other issues, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
You could also check out www.grief.com
If you need further help please call Lifeline on 13 11 14