R E B U I L D I N G O N L I N E C O U R S E
Grief is a very important part of the process when a relationship has ended and so you need to work through these emotions in order to move to the next stage. Here we will intellectually explore the stages of grief so that you become emotionally aware of grief enabling you to do the grieving that you have been afraid to embrace and experience.
are... all the lonely hours poured into remembering.
silence is deafening, then what is quiet?
- it's a world of two plus two, where one has no meaning and no value.
This is going to be quite a long section and so I have put in some images for you to take a break from reading and create time for reflection. It will be good to have your journal to hand and open in case you wish to write a few notes or images.
We are now working with one of the most difficult and emotionally draining aspects of rebuilding. Whenever there is loss of something important in our lives we suffer grief. For death there is a set ritual with funeral, coffin and the acceptance that grieving is important. For divorce there are no prescribed rituals other than a court hearing, and so grief is often not acknowledged or accepts that the death of a relationship is cause for us to grieve.
Many forms of loss happen when a relationship ends which many people do grieve. There is the loss of a future; the sharing of a future as a couple, of love, of partner and lover and the social status of being a couple. For some people the loss of the relationship is as important as the loss of a partner.
Then there is the loss of role both personally and within society and the status as a couple and all that that communicates both to us and those around us. So for some people the loss of the relationship is as important as the loss of the partner. Then there is the loss of the future and plans, goals, careers and home together. It is very common when we end a relationship to look at past pain. I have found that many people have not grieved a loss in the past, such as the death of a loved one so re-experiencing past pain intensifies the grieving process. For those who carried such unresolved loss from the past their current grief is especially painful and difficult.
But it is not just about past loss. If we have a history of unfulfilled emotional needs such as one man who began working the seminar on unhappiness he experienced during his lonely childhood then here is the chance to break free. Many people are forced to move away from the house the lived together with their partner in and single parents have to grief the loss of children when they are with the other parent. Naturally the children must also grieve the loss of a house, parent and family.
has a push-pull effect.
With grief we feel emotionally drained and sleep problems are often common. Either falling asleep at night if we don't use drugs or alcohol or waking up early in the morning and though tired unable to go back to sleep. This is a major concern at a time when we need it most we have difficulty sleeping. Also the dreams or the fact that on waking we return to the reality of loss makes grief hard work. It is quite normal if challenging to feel continuously tired until we have finished our process of grieving.
Eating is a problem during grief. It is common to feel a tightness in the throat and find swallowing difficult. Sometimes the mouth feels dry and you may not have much of an appetite resulting forcing yourself to eat.
Rapid mood changes are typical during grief given that in one moment you feel forgetful or distracted and emotions rise only to find that almost a second later the pain is once again with you. The whole sudden mood swing may have been triggered by a conversation from a friend showing an act of kindness. Your friends can feel confused and sad not knowing what they have done to upset you.
There may period when you sense a loss of reality, of being in a daze, in an unreal world. You observe the world as though watching a film, remote and detached from the events happening around you. You may also experience a period of lack of contact with your emotions. You are afraid to trust your feelings because of your inability to control them. The emotional pain is so great, you have to protect yourself from feeling too much by effectively creating times of deadening your emotions. At these times it is common to sense an emotional 'numbness'.
Many people report to me how they experience a lot of fantasizing during grief. Fantasizing about seeing your former partner, or that you hear their voice. That part of your body is missing, as though your heart were removed, which symbolizes the loss of the other person. For many this part of the process may be frightening if you do not recognise that it is a natural and normal part of the grieving process.
Loneliness, lack of concentration, weakness and a feeling of helplessness, depression or as I prefer to term it given it is a normal reaction 'intense sadness'; guilt, lack of sexual interest and perhaps the feeling of impotence or frigidity may accompany the grieving process. Self-criticism in the sense of a need to continually question your mistakes and how you relieve the past continue during this part of the journey.
Anger is a part of grief resulting from powerful feelings in regard to the unfairness of the loss and life in general. Anger directed towards your former partner may approach rage in its intensity but I will look in more detail about this part of the process in our next online session.
Suicidal feelings are common with approximately three fourths of people attending seminars reporting such thoughts and feelings. Research indicates a much higher than normal rate of suicidal thoughts and the associated feelings can appear overwhelming at such a time. Such apparently uncontrollable mood swings, loss of reality, fantasies, intense sadness, suicidal feelings often lead us to question 'Am I going crazy?' and for many this is a difficult fear to discuss. As you can guess holding such a fear simply makes it even more isolated and challenging but rest assured that this is a natural normal feeling which everyone experiences rather than a permanent psychological diagnosis. You are experiencing normal grief reactions.
So these grief symptoms may be handled by acknowledging them, accepting that they indicate grief work to be done and allowing, with the right support, to feel the pain without the denial. Crying, shouting, and writhing are nondestructive actions to express your grief and so make a decision to manage the grief by deciding on an appropriate time and place to do grief work.
When you are working this is naturally not the time so you must contain and put the grief to one side but because you have set aside other times to allow your grieving process to unfold your emotions become easier to control at other times.
Elsewhere you can read about my work in PNI and the common almost universal fact that if you do not travel through your grief work then your body may express the repressed feelings of grief in psychosomatic symptoms of illness. This may be simple aliments such as headaches, or you may develop ulcers, arthritis, asthma as unresolved grief puts a great deal of stress upon all parts of your body.
Naturally we try to protect ourselves and many people I work with say this part of the rebuilding process is the hardest and they don't want to experience the pain and crying of grief. Somewhere deep inside you will know when the grief work is complete and you have worked through the process of letting go means that you cannot experience these feelings again.
TIME TO TAKE A BREAK
Let me take you through the major stages involved in the grieving process or journey. I am greatly indebted to my friend and colleague, Dr Elizabeth Kubler-Ross for her fine work in helping clarify the stages of the grief process. Full ARTICLE link here.
Stage 1. The first reaction is DENIAL 'This isn't happening to me. If I just wait a while, everything will be okay and we will be back together again.' This is often a state of emotional shock, numbness, and denial of feelings.
Naturally one may enter an almost robotic phase, acting as though nothing is happening, repressing anger and a few other emotions as well and feeling down no matter people say or what happens around you. There is the hope that your partner will not leave and wake up and all will have been a nasty dream. You don't want to talk to people be they friends of neighbours about the ending of the relationship indeed you don't really want to tell yourself as this would make it real.
Stage 2. The emergence of powerful feelings As one gradually begins to accept the end of the relationship powerful feelings of anger start to emerge and often at the most unexpected times. Anger that is turned inwards can contribute to a form of reactive depression is now turned to other people. Expressing the anger now feels easier but there is also concern that the partner will not return to the relationship at any cost because of such anger resulting in times of feeling both guilt and ambivalence. Now the frustrations in the relationship which built up over time may also surface in the form of intense feelings of anger. Friends will have told you how they wondered how you tolerated your former partner for so long. In turn it may be the case that you go to great lengths to convince others how terrible your former partner was which often results in the "Catch 22" situation where you lose both ways. If you talk about how good that person is, now do you stay angry? But if you say how terrible that person is, then the question becomes why did you choose such a terrible person to love in the first place! You have now started to work through the grief process when you admit and express such anger.
Stage 3. Beginning to face the fact that the relationship is ending, yet for a whole host of reasons both emotional and practical with reluctance, one may start bargaining: "I'll do anything. Just take me back!" This stage is dangerous for the divorce process because many people do get back together, but for all the wrong reasons - to avoid loneliness and unhappiness in considering life without their partner. They are not choosing to live successfully with their former partner but instead choosing the 'lesser of two evils'
Stage 4. Stage four of grief is letting go of the relationship and is essentially the darkness before the dawn. Very intense sadness is typical of this stage but differs in expression from the earlier stage of intense sadness in the sense of 'Is this all there is to life?' There is much internal dialogue about the meanings of life: 'Why am I here on earth? What is the purpose of my life?'
This is a stage of personal growth to build a stronger identity , to find a deeper purpose for living and to make life more meaningful.
A number of people are left feeling like they can't go on living during this stage in the sense 'I've tried so long and worked so hard, and here I am again down in the pits and I don't want to let go!' Because this stage sometimes comes so long after the actual separation, people are naturally surprised to feel so down and intensely sad again. It is discouraging to have worked so hard and feel so little progress. However I have found that once people are aware of this stage and that it is a stage then they progress through it more easily. They are essentially comforted to realise that this is a normal feeling and they are not getting anything wrong at all. That the stage will not last for ever and that it is very different from the earlier stage of grief.
Stage 5. The is the stage of acceptance of the loss of the relationship. The person has begun to feel free from the emotional pain of grief and to feel no need to invest emotionally in the past relationship. Now one can begin to move along the journey with personal freedom and independence.
It is critically important to work through these five stages of grief before entering another relationship. We will discuss the reasons for this in our session.
Now you feel and understand the grieving process and have permission to grieve as a healthy mental activity you may feel freer to do some needed grieving which may even include some past loss besides that of the loss of the relationship in your life. People I work with often find writing a letter and certainly when my partner died this is something that I didn't just find helpful at the time but in the future for it was something that helped me when I entered another transitionary phase in my life.
Use your close and insightful friends - link to section nine for you to read to help as you work through your grief and do not talk to people who have never grieved for they often do not understand this powerful and all important process. This is something that we will focus on in our session so just make a mental note at this stage.
So our checklist before our next session is:
1. I give myself permission to grieve if and when I need to.
2. I am not burying the grief and sadness anymore but I am trying to express it.
3. I now have physical and emotional energy from morning until night.
4. I have stopped feeling intense sadness most of the time.
5. I have no trouble concentrating.
6. I no longer feel like crying most of the time.
7. I have overcome the feeling that I am in a dazed state all of the time.
8. My emotions and moods are back in my control.
9. I have no trouble going to sleep and sleeping all night.
10. I notice that my body weight has stabilized.
11. My appetite is good.
12. I no longer feel mechanical in my day to day living habits.
13. I have outgrown the feeling that I am losing my mind.
14. I have stopped continually talking about my relationship and life crisis.
15. I have no thoughts of ending my life.
16. I no longer have a lump in my throat.
17. My stomach feels relaxed.
18. I am beginning to be emotionally close to people again.
19. I understand the grief process.
20. I have identified which of the five stages of grief that I am in.
21. I have identified what I need to grieve be this a person, relationship, a future.
22. I am comfortable talking about my feelings of grief with a close friend.
23. I have written a letter of good-bye to the loss I am experiencing now.
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