To Unravel is to Heal

To be tightly wound up in grief is not a good way to walk around on a consistent basis. But it seems it’s good for society~ for your coworkers, friends, acquaintances, family, and strangers alike. We, the ones going through grief, have to keep it together when we are around others. Society wants to see stoicism, pride, and a measure of control out of us. They are looking at you to show them that losing someone to death can be handled and managed, compartmentalized and tucked away for private moments of contemplative weepiness. We feel the unspoken pressure and comply for everyone, including ourselves. An outward display of overwhelming grief is scary to behold and very disconcerting and uncomfortable for others and ourselves to witness. It seems a common value we have placed on ourselves to suffer the real emotions of grief in private. And by private I mean~ totally by ourselves. Even our core families are often uncomfortable seeing an unraveling of grief and pain. People don’t want to see the raw truth because grief is an inevitability for all of us that is better put off for another time. To talk about the true day-to-day of what I experienced and witnessed during those last few weeks is undignified and not in keeping with what societal expectations are. Everyone wants a sanitized, sleepy version of what its like to see someone you love die, like in the movies. The hand grip, the closing of the eyes, and the sweet last staggered breath, the last kiss on the cheek. That is what people want to envision for themselves. And through love, they want to believe that’s what happened to you… Many, many times this is not the case. And it wasn’t mine.

But the truth is at some point~ the unraveling for the grief-stricken will happen. And sometimes it is multiple times. The first inclination and instinct many have is to stand back, to turn away, or close your eyes and cover your ears. The flashbacks, the scenery, the smells and sights and sounds of your surroundings, all of it will make its way to the top and bubble over in our minds. How could it not?? I am a part of closed grief groups online. Many talk privately about wanting to die. Wanting it to be over. And some sadly find a way to make that happen. There is an underlying aspect to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and I know it is often a part of grief that no one is seeing or talking about. There needs to be an outlet. An understanding. A way to go through these feelings, this experience, and project it out of our bodies and minds all that we witnessed and experienced and to let it go into the universe for transmutation and diffusion. Reliving it doesn’t help, getting it out of us- does. Keeping this inside ourselves is the most unhealthy thing we can do, but it is also the expectation and sadly and oftentimes the advice that is placed on us by society, our families and friends and coworkers, and ourselves. We must find ways to emit this powerful destructive energy out of our minds and bodies to regain emotional and physical health.

The crucial part of this is to allow one who has suffered loss to grieve at their own pace, at their own volume, and not under anyone else’s timeline or expectation. If you really love them, show patience and ride the waves with them. This level of pain cannot be sustained and it often flows in waves, many times for years. God only gives you what you can handle and waves seem to be a natural form of release, just like the tides of the ocean. You must accept this in order to be fully vested in understanding and support of this person who is suffering. Do not tire of it, do not try and fix it, do not tell them to move on and get over it and suck it up. If they are living, eating, working, and communicating with you they are already crossing over hurdles you haven’t experienced yet perhaps.

One of the ways I let this energy out is through scream therapy. If I were to allow others to hear me they might call the police or an ambulance. Yes~ it’s that powerful. I get in my car and drive somewhere where I know I wont be heard and I let out the most god-awful scream I can muster. I am hoarse for days afterward sometimes. But I can feel this energy leave with the sound and vibration in my throat and it is cathartic, powerful, relieving, and forgiving. And afterward I feel at peace and can move through my day without shell-shocking others. I’m not really advocating public meltdowns, but I am trying to help people connect and understand each other through this process. This journal is for those that need to unravel. And for those that need to understand the unraveling. And to accept this, honor it, and heal, and to form lasting bonds with those that choose to stay. One day when this happens to you, you will have someone who knows and understands be there for you too!

This journal is for my parents. Thank you so much for your undying love, support, and patience for me these last years.

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15 thoughts on “To Unravel is to Heal

  1. when you have a meltdown and no one reaches out to hug you or place a hand on your shoulder or return your texts or calls, yea… ya might as well get in your car and drive somewhere where you can cry you eyes out… let it all out… in the dark… in a parking lot… alone.
    quite frankly, i’m better off not expecting much at all really, if anything, from those who promised to “be there”
    HA!!!!!!
    count on no one.
    dispensing of such expectations avoids alot of extra heartache that only makes this process all the more painful… all the more gut-wrenching lonely.
    count on myself. count on no one. count on God.
    i’m the only one who knows the indescribable depths of heartache and pain and loss from losing my sweet husband, my lifemate, my best friend in the entire world. the person i was to spend THE REST OF MY LIFE WITH AND VERY HAPPILY AT THAT!!!!! thank you very much.
    when i try to tell others how bad it hurts, they talk behind my back about “locking up their guns” and “should she be on medication” and “i think she’s bipolar” and “she only thinks about herself” and “you guys don’t have time to babysit her” and on and on and on….
    un-freakin-believable.
    last time i confide in those who, again, promised to “be there”
    i’ve learned there are very very few people i can REALLY trust.
    but i’m glad to know the truth. it helps to know why i was feeling so alone.
    i was feeling alone because my grief was merely fodder for gossip and whispered conversations to which i was not privy.
    so yea, of course, this was helpful on their part. oh yes, very helpful.
    let’s talk ABOUT someone, but not TO them.
    makes perfect sense.
    on ANOTHER PLANET maybe!!!!
    geeeez.
    so ridiculous, this inability to face human emotions we’ve gotten ourselves to in this “modern” world.
    so absolutley sad and ridiculous.

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    • Just let out a wail of a scream last night that it sounds like you would appreciate. Someone was trying to both convert me to Christianity (I already have a spiritual path that included Christian values) and remind me that “there are people who have it a lot worse than me” in the same paragraph. My brother was killed in a mass casualty incident i.e. Terrorist attack and I witnessed, and continue to witness, first hand thousands of people who “have it worse than me from that incident alone!!! The Great Grief of Seeing that the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks seems to be spawning an increase of similar activity instead of more of the unity and benevolent response of the rescue and recovery time after the attacks can be overwhelming. Tried to redirect the conversation. Was told I was in victim consciousness, etc. Got off the phone and wailed! Full blown , full bodied scream. Glad windows were still closed for the air conditioner. I have tried this before in my car with good results, but this time something really “popped”. I felt like I had to focus only on my breath or I would fall into the abyss of the power/energy I had unleashed. Exhilarating and scarey. Got through the night. Feeling a bit empty but spacious this morning. Going for a walk with a dog I am caring for. Hope that will be good. Gotta keep things simple right now. Good to see your posts. Thanks. Very helpful. Have a gentle day!

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    • Yes it is sad and ridiculous. It’s all based on fear. Fear of what you’ve been through. The good thing is there’s billions of people on this planet. And some of them deserve your friendship. Make friends anew. Learn from this experience and reach out to others who have experienced the same and don’t let those people turn your heart bitter. You know better. You understand more. Forgiveness is for the self. Rise above this and become that person who does things differently. I know you can Tracy.

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    • Crystal you are not alone. I’m learning every day that neither am I. I lost my precious son in January. The waves of grief are exactly like the ocean waves. Some days it’s gentle and you can function with some sort of clarity other days, it’s like those hard cold crashing waves off of California and you can’t even get out of bed. Cry when you need to, yell when can, and never allow yourself to stay low for too long. YOU ARE NOT ALONE…. best wishes to you.

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  2. Holly, you are an awesome writer. I lost my baby of my 4 sons at 20, 2 days before Christmas, 2012 and then my husband to melanoma six weeks later in 2013. Will never ever be the same. Has changed my family and what’s left of us. I sent my oldest son your article “I catch me” and it really helped both of us. He is really angry and looking for someone to blame. When you wait around for people to heal you, you give up who you are. It’s good to receive some help, but can’t sit and think of who hasn’t done what. The they own your soul. Thanks for your beautiful articles and big hugs to you and your son.

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    • Thank you so much for your kind words. And I am glad the words have helped you and your family too. I simply cannot imagine what you went through. And I can understand how it changed you all. Too sudden and too quick for anyone to wrap their head around. All can offer is my writing and then the 10 Tenets of GA. They helped me in my darkest hours. Much love and peace to you, Heidi.

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  3. Thank you for writing this! So very accurate of a descripting of what life is after loss for many of us. My Moment is usually in my truck on my way home in the morning as I just get done working night shift. I pour my day out to my husband who is my shotgun rider. Often times there are tears, then I pull myself together get out of the truck and into our home to survive another day!
    I am on month number 15 as cancer took this beautiful love from us. I have an 18 year old daughter who is struggling, very misunderstood by those she is surrounded by as they can not relate at this age. I have to be there…for our children…they have lost too! I will continue to talk to my husband every ride home…until the last ride of my life when he will be with me again! Hugs to you and all who travel this road !

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