When we lose someone we love, the pain that comes in waves can be almost unbearable. The pain that is also a reflection of our love for our deceased loved one. The stronger your love for them, the more pain and emotional upheaval you will experience during the grieving process.
Instead of trying to disown this pain, or to suppress it – because it is causing us discomfort (that’s an understatement, I know) – we should strive to honor this pain because it’s simply a reflection of our love for the one we’ve lost. After we have fully embraced the pain, like a child that cries for your attention, it will eventually stop pestering you. But it does take time, and your full attention and compassion.
Some of us can get past these painful stages of grief in as little as one year, but for others, it could take up a substantially extended period of time. I get asked often: “How do I manage the grief of losing someone after 4 years?” “Why can’t I move on after losing my husband 5 years ago?”
Others get stuck in this grieving phase for years, and to no fault of their own, has unconsciously adopted the victim mentality. When we are hurt and lost, it’s only human to try to grab hold of whatever life-line we see. The emotions arising from the pain of losing a loved one is so powerful that it can shut down our logical thinking, sound judgment, and discernment capabilities.
With the capacity to think clearly temporarily switched off, we can easily fall into the trap of wallowing in self-pity for our own circumstance – and as Eckart Tolle likes to call it, our “life situation.”
Once we’ve unknowingly adopted the victim mentality, it can have a slow, but detrimental effect on other areas of our lives. This self-victimization mentality, like a drip effect, will slowly infiltrate our thoughts, our actions, and in turn, our habits.
Signs You’ve Been Drowning in Grief:
I’ve already written about some of the signs that you may be properly processing your grief. But this article will focus on some of the signs that you may NOT be properly processing your loss, and may be unknowingly wallowing in your grief instead. Some of these signs include:
- You feel sorry for yourself and your current circumstances
- You constantly seek emotional supply from others around you
- You can’t bear to be alone
- You constantly feel depressed, anxious, numb, disconnected, and just plain “shitty”
- You may seek addictive substances to numb your pain (e.g. alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, etc.)
- You have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, or suffer from chronic bodily aches & pain (this is typically caused by suppressed emotions & unprocessed trauma on an energetic level)
- You want others to feel sorry for you and your story (that you repeatedly tell, and it doesn’t matter who you tell, as long as someone is willing to listen)
- You can’t bear the thought of seeing others happy, and you secretly wish that other people should suffer in the same way that you are suffering
- You harbor hate, anger, or bitterness towards others, and/or towards God, or life, in general
- You’re always tired, often exhausted, with no energy to accomplish anything (even things you were once excited about)
- You feel that life is unfair, and that you are always the only person who has to experience pain and suffering
- You can only see the negative side to any situation
- When you feel the urge to cry, but you suppress your tears because you think others will judge you for not being “strong” enough
- You are plagued by guilt, and for any reason, are not ready to let go
- You experience difficulty maintaining other areas of your life (e.g. financial, living situation, familial and social relations, etc.)
Please note that it’s normal to exhibit any of these signs during the initial loss – when you are still in shock, and the pain is still raw.
But if it has been 5 or more years (this is a guess-timation)* since you’ve lost your loved one, and you still exhibit some of these signs, then you have most likely adopted the self-victimization mentality and has gotten yourself stuck in grief.
*Granted there is no time limit to grieving loss, but what I’m referring to is if you feel you’ve been stuck for longer than necessary. (You’ll know if you’re stuck)
The thing is, since you have simply learned to take on the habits of this self-victimization mentality as a self-preservation mechanism, you can also unlearn this mentality.
Just like how our brain is the hardware, and all the “unseen” programmings that we’ve adopted and made into habits (the auto-pilot mode) throughout childhood and our adult lives, akin to the software in our brain, can be upgraded, deleted, or re-installed.
All it takes is a little effort, patience, and lots of compassion towards ourselves.
Ways You Can Heal from Grief and Self-Victimization
In order for us to move past the initial shock and the raw pain of losing our loved one, we must process this grief by fully embracing and experiencing it. By doing so, you are taking a huge step towards self-empowerment, and away from self-victimization!
As soon as you’re willing to take the first step, the Universe will meet you with two steps – I can attest to this through my personal experiences on this journey of healing (it’s not just some spiritual-babble bulls**t). Have faith. You already have everything you need to get through this.
Proactively Embrace and Express Your Grief
The only way out, is through.
Loss is managed by proactively embracing and honoring your pain, and allowing yourself to express your grief wholeheartedly, in whichever way you find works for you.
When you feel angry, go ahead and express your anger in a safe place (e.g. yelling, punching or ripping apart pillows).
When you feel the urge to cry, please cry your eyes out. Cry until you run out of tears. Cry until you’re exhausted.
Engage in cathartic activities to help you express your grief.
Try talking to someone to process your feelings. If you don’t know where to start, try sitting in a quiet place with a blank piece of paper and jot down whatever phrases, or words that come up (which is a form of journaling). It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but yourself.
You’ll notice that the sadness and pain comes in waves, just like any of our other emotions (i.e. happiness, anger, sorrow). Notice that your emotions will rise and fall like waves. We can ride them for the experience, but don’t get carried away by them.
Remember to Let Go
The other key component to this equation is learning to let go.
Instead of trying to get rid of the painful emotion, learn to dive deep into whatever you are feeling in the present moment, and letting those emotions fully seep into every fiber of your being. Feel them fully. Then let them go.
You’ll feel as if you were shedding skin, like a snake that’s reborn. Every time you have processed and let go of something, you are shedding a layer of yourself that no longer serves you. You will feel much lighter, physically, emotionally, and mentally – as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
Gradually, you’ll discover a sense of peace and calmness buried beneath the thick layer of turbulent emotions akin to the still waters of the ocean under a storm of angry waves. Once you’ve reached the bottom, the only way to go is “up.” You will naturally bounce back from the “pit” and reach an equilibrium in your emotional state.
Then repeat the process whenever any of these grieving emotions resurface. But you will notice that the intensity of these emotions softens over time. And frequency of these “attacks” will gradually lessen as well.
Take it one step at a time. One day at a time. Share the memories you’ve experienced with your deceased loved ones with friends and family members who’ll understand your pain.
Ignore those who tell you that “it’s time to move on.” They have yet to experience real loss.
Be compassionate towards yourself. It’s okay to be angry, sad, or numb. It’s okay to let those dishes and dirty laundry pile up because you just can’t manage to squeeze any last ounce of energy to get them done.
So, the short answer: The only way out, is through.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. But you’ll just have to learn to walk in the dark for a while. Learn to be comfortable in temporary moments of the uncomfortable.