1% Responsibility

Taking 1% Responsibility

Today we are going to talk about taking 1% responsibility this one actually, is one of my favorites because it was the hardest for me to learn. But it’s one of the most important that I wish to share. And I’m sprinkling in some personal stories. But I want to get started with this as being one of the hurdles of grief. Because we have this incorrect belief that other people or events are responsible for our feelings, we might say things like so and so made me so angry, or so and so ruined my day. I think all of us could say this about COVID right now, couldn’t we? Actually just told someone today that they had asked if I had taken a vacation or went away on vacation and I said: “Nope, COVID ruined those plans,” which COVID did. But the only thing I have control over and the only thing you have control over when it comes to COVID is our reaction to it. And I’m pretty sure we all agree that there are a lot of people not handling it very well. And as a result, treating other people quite poorly, actually which is incredibly unfortunate. But this brings my whole point in this episode of why this is so important for us to understand as it applies to grief. Because as the whole world replies and responds and reacts to this pandemic, we’re all responding differently.

Many of us, myself included, have a really difficult time taking ownership and how we react and how we feel about it, right? Another comment that people might say is, if so and so hadn’t done such and such to me, I would be okay. Like you did this. Now I feel this way. These are very common responses. And when it comes to grief, this is what keeps us stuck. When we don’t take responsibility for our feelings and our actions we suffer. And this influenced learning, you guessed it begins in childhood. As I’ve talked about before and several of the previous episodes, what we learn in childhood about grief is what we resort to when we are adults. So as children, If dad or mom said to you, you make me so happy, or you make me proud or don’t make your father mad. I heard that one many times. So what we learn in growing up as children and hearing these things, is that the actions that we take cause the feelings of others. And if I can make them feel something, then they can make me feel something. And I bet you’re just like, oh yeah, you’re listening to this and you’re like that’s so true, because it is, it is so true. And this keeps us stuck in this victim mentality.

Victim Mentality

I have a whole chapter about victim mentality in my self-published book, the guided heart moving through grief and finding spiritual solace, which I published in 2017. And it’s on Amazon if you’re interested. But I have a whole chapter devoted to this because it was truly a huge struggle for me. And at times, I find it can be still, Eleanor Roosevelt has said: “No one can make you feel bad about yourself without your permission,” and I wholeheartedly agree. But growing up in hearing these messages and growing up and not understanding, as an eight-year-old child, when I lost my father, how to process those feelings and then really had been a difficult child, in a way, because I cried a lot. Actually, my family got together recently and my brother said to me, “You cried a lot.” And, I did. I think I was truly a very sad child. And I would go to hide to cry. Because it was shameful; I felt ashamed for crying, for having the feelings I had. And that’s why I wanted to hide them. I didn’t feel safe expressing those feelings. We give all of our personal power away when we allow others or events to be 100% responsible for our feelings. And in doing this, we also make them responsible, are those events responsible for ending those feelings as well, for making us feel better, or for making the situation right in our own minds, right? Like, we look to that person, then, to fix it. Like, “you screwed up, you made me feel this way. And now you need to fix it.”

Grief Keep Us Stuck

And in loss, we may reflect back on all of the things through our childhood, or young adulthood, depending on the loss that occurred. And think back at all of that, what we feel are offenses that were done towards us to make us feel a certain way. And we will continue to look at that person that they need to fix this. They need to own what they did. What happens if they never do? What do you do, then, if you are hanging your happiness hat on what someone else does or the way someone else responds to your pain that you feel they inflicted, that’s a lot of power you’re giving away, folks, when you realize that that’s never gonna happen. You either then accept it and move on and process those feelings. But if you are not able to do that, you’re stuck in emotional jail. And this is why grief can keep us stuck.

Let me give you an example to illustrate this point a little bit further. So let’s say someone is sitting at a red light. And I’ve done this I’m sure you have to where you kind of daydreaming and not really paying attention to the light. Well, then it changes. And that person behind you just blares their horn and you get startled and what do you do right away? What is your knee-jerk reaction? Are you going to roll down your window and say hey thanks, thanks for letting me know the light changed, I was just daydreaming, or you likely going to give them the bird in the rearview or curse under your breath? It’s more likely the latter. We are the architects of our own discomfort. And we fail to recognize that we are responsible for the feelings that result from our attitudes and actions. Let me ask you another question. What ruins the picnic, the rain, or our reaction to the rain? You cannot do anything about the rain. However, what you do have control over is your reaction to it. The same is true for almost all losses. For example, losing my father – what was causing my grief? Was it the loss or my reaction to the loss over the course of the next 30 years? Well, it was both. And although I couldn’t undo what had happened, I could do something about my reaction to it. And I’ll tell you what, it took me 30 years, more than 30 years, to do something about it. And for a lot of years prior to that most of those years actually. I felt like a victim. I felt like a victim of that loss. I felt like a victim to the circumstances that I was then after that loss, I felt stuck. I was absolutely stuck in my grave.

But what we can do is we can acquire skills to help us complete our relationship to the pain and the heartache caused by what happened. You see, over time, we develop all of this influenced learning. We develop an automatic critical response toward others or circumstances that we hold responsible for our feelings. So rather than examining ourselves, which I was not doing to be honest, until grief recovery. I take that back, about 2014 when I started to really dive into personal development that’s when I really started to do some self-examination. But prior to that, I had that critical response where I was examining the thoughts and behaviors, and actions of others who I held responsible for my happiness.

When it comes to the past, we can only control our current reaction. Otherwise, we will forever feel like a victim. We sustain and recreate the pain of the past through our own memories as well. People may say, “let it go move on, you can’t change the past.” However, they are likely holding on to the same belief system about personal responsibility that you care about something in their life, nothing changes until you take responsibility for your recovery. And so the idea is to take 1% responsibility, which can open your head and your heart to a new way of thinking and challenge those old worn-out belief systems and patterns of behavior that are keeping you stuck in your grief.

The Power of Choice

So the next time you find yourself in traffic, and you feel yourself just boiling up with emotional anger, consider that you have the power of choice at that moment, or at any other time that there is a stimulus. And you have a thought, which then leads to a feeling and then to a reaction or an action that you’ll take. Think of that loop? The stimulus, thought, feeling, action loop, and think about this podcast episode. How do you get off that loop? How do you get off the hamster wheel of being and feeling like a victim to the circumstances and to the other people in your life who make you feel a certain way, where you believe, make you feel a certain way.

My husband has a favorite phrase that he uses and says to our kids, he’ll say: “There is no such thing as try; you either do or you don’t.”And I would like to say that we can also apply this to grief that we either take 1% responsibility or we don’t. But we very much can try, right? It’s recognizing when we’re on that loop of stimulus, thought, feeling, action, loop, that is not serving us that is keeping us stuck in these old thoughts and patterns and behaviors. That keeps us stuck in certain relationships. Think about this episode. As you move about your day, the circumstances that come across your path, the people that perhaps influence your feelings throughout the day. And know that if you’re allowing that to dictate your feelings, even the rest of the day, we can have something happened to us at eight in the morning and it can do rail us the entire day. I experienced this. I know what it’s like. I know, I get it. It’s life in general. It’s not easy. I totally get it. But to have the awareness when we are stuck in that pattern. That’s when we can change how we respond and react.

much love, victoria

P.S. Catch all episodes of Grieving Voices HERE or on your preferred platform HERE. Check me out on Instagram @theunleashedheart. If you liked this episode, please share it because, sharing is caring 💛 Much love, my friend.

 

 

The Manifestation of Grief

The Manifestation of Grief

Short-term Energy-Relieving Behaviors

When we think about grief, we don’t often think about how our bodies respond. And because grief is cumulative and it’s cumulatively negative, we tend to store the emotional energy of grief within us. And over time, because grief is cumulative that emotional energy, that emotional charge that we have around a relationship that feels incomplete can bring on physical symptoms. And it can cause us to resort to behaviors that are unhelpful and probably more likely hurtful to ourselves. When we think about STERBs the short-term energy relieving behaviors, what we’re really talking about are the things that we resort to, to feel better. Some examples of that are food, shopping, exercise, gaming, running away, alcohol, violence, sleep, cell phones, smoking, risk-taking, cutting, anger, fantasy, vaping, tattoos, drugs whether they be street or prescription, sex, body art, porn, gambling, and even picking there’s actually quite a few, right? We all tend to pick some of these if not many of them. And if we ask ourselves, am I doing this to feel better? Am I doing this to avoid how I am feeling, then it is likely that we are resorting to a sterb-like behavior. These STERBS have changed obviously over time because I grew up in the 80s and of course there wasn’t vaping back then there weren’t cell phones. At least, maybe some people had big phones but you know that there were very few people. Actually to church can be, people can become obsessive helpers. Isn’t always a bad thing. But you know, we often think though that too much of anything is probably not the best either, right?

The Ramifications and Consequences of STERB Behaviors

I’ve resorted to several of these, in my years that I’ve dealt with my grief. These are all examples of behaviors that we resort to because we don’t understand grief, because we don’t understand what it is that emotionally is happening with us. And over time, and I can attest to this being a graver for over 30 years, is we either implode or we explode. And these behaviors are ways that we explode, that we expend our emotional energy, the emotional energy that grief brings us into our lives. We can also implode with physical symptoms. We can experience migraines, bowel issues, high blood pressure, ulcers, even chronic disease, chronic illnesses. There are just so many ways that over time grief impacts our bodies, our minds, and like I’ve mentioned before, shuts us off from our physical bodies. It’s like our body puts this armor up between our soul and our heart. And we just can’t break that barrier. And so we don’t know how to deal with what we are physically and emotionally experiencing. And so in a quest to feel better, we do what we can to feel better. And that is the crux of grief. And these behaviors, many of them obviously just bring on more grief, don’t they? If we resort to alcohol, we become addicted to alcohol or shopping or food. There are ramifications and consequences of those STERB behaviors. If we resort to food, which is what I’ve mentioned in a previous episode about the myths of grief, you know in early childhood, we’re often exposed to this one, when we feel bad, someone wants to give us food, here just eat this, you’ll feel better, eat this you’ll forget about it. And as adults drink this glass of wine, you’ll forget all about it, or just have a couple of beers with me and melt away the day. You know, we resort to these behaviors because we’d rather emotionally not deal with what we are feeling. And when it comes to shopping the same thing, we sit on our laptops or we are ordering from our phones. And before you know it, you’ve spent $300 on a bunch of crap you don’t need and it doesn’t make you feel any better. And actually, afterward, you probably feel shame and you probably feel anxiety and worry about maybe the financial part of spending the money that you don’t maybe have, or buying things just that you don’t need. And we can look at all of these behaviors and see the consequence and the ramifications of them. Whether it be the cell phones, if we’re always like many of us are today and a lot of teens they’re in their cell phone constantly head down in the phone. And, that’s where a lot of kids are being bullied is right through their technology in their hands that creates more grief in their lives when they’re exposed to that emotional pain that others are inflicting. And if they’re not open to communicating what is going on they’re gonna resort to these other behaviors, whether it be vaping or sex or gaming or exercise or food, alcohol even and tobacco or maybe even running away. Or how about even suicide.

How Grief Manifests In Our Bodies

This is why I’m so passionate about educating on grief because if we don’t understand the basis of why we do the things we do and get to the root of what is really going on in our lives, we will have these problems the rest of our lives and if we are unable to recognize and our children what it is that they may be dealing with, simply by looking at these behaviors or other new things that will be coming up, because what will disturbs of tomorrow be, now it’s vaping. And what will be next, that kids will resort to. So this is an important topic for everybody. One that I cannot not talk about, hence the podcast. So I want you to think about in what ways that you have been imploding or exploding. And in talking more about the imploding part about how grief manifests in our bodies. I can share that through the years, probably around 2014, that’s when I started had body aches, I just felt achy all over. I had stomach issues, I felt like any time I ate just a little bit, I felt bloated, which really just kind of exasperated the lack of nutrition because I didn’t feel like I could eat because when I did eat, I felt bloated, and it was this vicious cycle. And I ended up losing more weight than I should have in a short amount of time and my hair was falling out. It was thinning. I had headaches, I wasn’t sleeping well. These are all things that emotionally we’re manifesting in physical form. And this is the point I want to make in that look at where you may be imploding and exploding. And consider that it may not be a pill that you need. It may be that you just need direct grief recovery work. And it changed my life.

This work has changed my life. I can recognize now when I am feeling myself resort to certain behaviors. I can recognize now when I am physically experiencing the physical manifestation of what I am emotionally feeling. It’s not always a symptom, like what we’re experiencing physically isn’t always a symptom of something with a medical label. I want you to consider that very well. Just maybe grief.

And that’s not a term that you will ever, ever likely hear your medical doctor say out loud. Are you suffering from grief? No, they may tell you, well you have anxiety, you have an anxiety disorder, you have high blood pressure, which you probably maybe do. I’m not saying that high blood pressure is not a symptom of a cardiac issue that I’m not saying. But what is the cause of the cardiac issue that is then causing the high blood pressure, could it then be the stress on your heart, which is due to possibly grief. And that’s where I’m saying let’s get to the root of what is causing the physical manifestation going on in our bodies. Let’s get to the root of what is causing the outward expression of what we’re experiencing.

much love, victoria

P.S. I hope that you enjoyed it and you glean something from it useful. If you like this episode, I would love for you to share it with others and leave a review if you would, that would be fantastic. Catch all episodes of Grieving Voices HERE or on your preferred platform HERE. Much love my friend 💛

Academy Award Recovery

Academy Award Recovery

Our society implies that we should be better, we should be feeling better, and that we need to act recovered. Academy Award Recovery is its name, but it also could be called, “I’m fine, put on your happy face.” And it can also show up as this desire and need of wanting to help others. And I can attest to this because when I really started to dig into my personal development, I started to feel a little farther along in my healing and felt this desire to help others. And it really helped me to push my book out and to dig further into my growth. It wasn’t until I had another loss of my life where I realized that I wasn’t okay. And even still, when I registered to become a certified grief recovery specialist. It was with this thought in the back of my mind that I want to help others. But what I really realized as well is that I wasn’t okay with that next loss. I just had not moved beyond the grief that I had endured much of my life. One of the reasons why as grievers we feel the need to pretend is that the comments that we hear during a loss at the time of loss, appeal to the intellect and do not encourage the expression of feelings. And such intellectualizing increases a griever’s sense of isolation and creates a feeling of being judged, evaluated, and criticized. Because of this, a griever quickly discovers that he or she must indeed act recovered in order to be treated in an acceptable manner. In an attempt to be accepted and to look recovered, then grievers then try to focus on only the fond memories and where there’s incomplete grief.

What are Enshrinement and Bedevilment?

We also see often enshrinement and enshrinement in its most damaging form can include obsessively building these memorials to the person who died. An example would be if a mother lost a child and did not change a single item in their child’s room. Let’s say even five years that the child has been deceased. Often with enshrinement, we can also hear comments like you must not speak ill of the dead. And people tend to have a difficult time looking accurately at all aspects of the relationship. Now we don’t suggest that you run around bad-mouthing anybody living or dead but the suggestion is that it’s impossible to complete the pain caused by death, divorce, or any other significant emotional loss without looking at everything about the relationship, not just the positive. The opposite of enshrinement is bedevilment. The griever has a litany of complaints derailing, a lifetime of mistreatment. They’re unwilling to let go of disappointments and anger with the devilment, the griever clings to the negatives just as the in Shriner clings to the positives, but neither views the entire relationship. The thing to keep in mind is that all relationships include both positive and negative interactions. We know that you can complete grief only by being totally honest with yourself and others.

Academy Award Recovery | Seeking Approval of Others

Academy Award Recovery behavior also keeps us seeking the approval of others. We all like praise and compliments. We all like approval, and we all want to be seen as smart, strong, and mature. We all want to feel as if we are a part of a group. This need is learned during early childhood and often reinforced to the point of obsession. Earlier it was mentioned, the large percentage of comments made to grieving people following a loss is not helpful. Grievers are advised to take actions that merely distract or convert feelings into intellectual ideas. Since approval is such a powerful aspect of our social skills, we try to conform to the ideas suggested to us following a loss. If we use the example of a miscarriage or the loss of a young child, people might say, well, you should be grateful that you can have other children or it was just not meant to be. Or how about this one, you’re strong enough to handle it? Well, intellectually all these statements might be true, they still don’t help deal with feelings. This becomes a double-edged sword because although we want the approval of those around us, we may still not feel supported by our family or friends. In an attempt to feel better, we opt for Academy Award Recovery. After pretending for so long that we’re fine, we start to believe in ourselves. If I asked you, if you like to be lied to, the answer would likely be “no”. However, if I asked you if you’ve lied about your feelings following a loss, the answer would probably be “yes”. It is very sad to realize that we have been taught to lie about our feelings for fear of being judged or criticized. The danger of I’m fine is that it does not help the broken heart. Saying I’m fine just distracts us and others, while the pain and loneliness persist on the inside. The net effect is to create a scab over an infection, leaving a mess underneath. Is it any surprise then that all of this pretending and I’m finding to everyone else around that it’s just exhausting to the point where you have no energy left? Sometimes all a griever can do is get out of bed and go through the motions of a day, a week, a month, and eventually was my case 30 years of living life on autopilot.

Unresolved Grief

Unresolved grief consumes tremendous amounts of energy. Most commonly the grief stays buried under the surface and only the symptoms are treated. Many people including mental health professionals misunderstand the fact that unresolved loss is cumulative and it’s cumulatively negative. Human energy is used most efficiently when our minds and our bodies are in harmony. Unresolved grief tends to separate us from ourselves. As an example, how many times have you been driving down the road and suddenly realize that for the last three blocks, you were anywhere but driving the car, perhaps you were in your head having a conversation with someone who was not in the car? And quite often those Phantom conversations are with someone who has died. More likely than not these conversations represent an aspect of unfinished emotional business between you and someone else living or dead. Holding on to incomplete emotions consumes enormous amounts of energy. All of this pretending also leads to a loss of liveliness and spontaneity that is almost impossible to overcome. Many people fall into a trap of quiet desperation sometimes feeling good, sometimes feeling bad, but never being able to return to a state of full happiness and joy. We pay a high price for the incorrect information we have about dealing with loss. Each time a loss is not properly concluded, there is a cumulative restriction on our likeness. Life becomes something to endure. The world seems like a hostile place in which to live.

Because of Misinformation

Because of misinformation, we never had a fair chance to deal effectively with the loss events in our lives. Maybe like me, you’ve tried many things to improve your sense of happiness and well-being. And yet maybe despite all of those attempts, you still feel this emotional dis-ease within you like I had felt for so long. What do you think happens after all of this time of pretending and saying I’m fine and denying how we truly feel feeling unsafe to share how we really feel? Since we have been socialized from early on to deal with sad, painful, and negative emotions incorrectly, we end up storing that energy inside ourselves. A little story to illustrate this is let’s say a child comes home from preschool with her feelings hurt from another child on the playground. The caretaker says what happened? and the child responds tearfully that one of the kids was mean to her. And the caretaker says, Don’t cry here have a cookie you’ll feel better. Thus, setting the child up with a lifetime belief from an important authority source that feelings can be fixed with food. Upon eating the cookie, the child feels different, not better, for the moment is distracted and forgets about the incident on the playground. However, there has been no completion of the emotional pain caused by the event. The emotional pain and the feelings attached to it are now buried under the cookie, the sugar, and the distraction. If the child were to bring it up sometime later, she would probably be told, we don’t cry over spilled milk. As if to say that it is not okay to continue having feelings about the incident, so it must stay buried. Early on, we learn to cover up hide, or bury our feelings under food. It is not surprising that sometime later, we adapt that same behavior and cover-up our feelings under alcohol or other drugs. We may have learned to do so by observing family members at funerals or wakes, consuming large amounts of food and alcohol. Consuming food or alcohol in response to the emotional energy created by death or divorce does not help us discover the source of the energy or complete the relationship affected by our loss. Therefore, we are participating in an illusion that the short-term relief offered by food or alcohol gives us long-term relief from the pain caused by the loss. Food and alcohol are obvious and typical short-term energy-relieving behaviors.

There are many other short-term behaviors that have the same life-limiting and damaging consequences. In grief recovery, we call these stir herbs. And I’ll be talking more about these in the next episode. I hope with the education in this episode about Academy Award Recovery, you can now see that saying I’m a fine which really means feelings inside not expressed is not only damaging to yourself but also sends a message if you’re a parent to your children that pretending and not being honest and truthful about how you feel is acceptable and expected. I hope from now on in your relationships with your children with others that you feel you can share the emotional truth and be an example of doing so in your relationships.

much love, victoria

P.S. Catch all episodes of Grieving Voices HERE or on your preferred platform HERE.  For this Episode 5, you can listen HERE. Did you find this episode helpful and informative? Rate, Review, or Share it with a griever you know and love because sharing is caring 💛

The 6 Myths of Grief

The 6 Myths of Grief

We learned by many different methods and one of these is called influence learning. But I’d like to also call it generational learning because our parents tend to fall back on what they were taught and their parents and the parents before. And I can attest to that as well as I am a parent of three kids. And before grief recovery and before actually diving into my own grief, I did a lot of these things and said a lot of these things that I’m going to share with you today. And so when as you’re listening, there might be a knee-jerk reaction to feel bad to feel like you’ve been failing as a parent. I know when I was learning this myself and was going through certification and had to kind of dig into the error of my ways, I guess. I felt a lot of guilt, actually. And I will talk about the guilt word. But that’s for another conversation. But I did feel really bad about having the awareness as to how I was responding to my children’s emotional needs. I had never really dug into my own and had not addressed my own. Although I had tried for many years, even seeking therapy. At one point, I just had not really dealt with head-on what was emotionally and complete. And so when it came to my children’s needs emotional needs, that is. I responded much like I was taught and much as I will dive into today. So let’s get started.

Myth 1 | Don’t Feel Bad

The first myth of grief is don’t feel bad. Often this message is shared by Don’t cry because we are born into a family. And we are born into having the ability to learn by sight, hearing, and all of these things, the senses. And so we watch and we learn from watching and emulating what our parents do by 18 to 24 months when we start to gain verbal skills. And from that point forward. We also learn by what is said. Hearing the message don’t cry is basically meaning don’t feel bad. As a young child, I often was told if you wanna cry, go to your room. And I did I would go under my bed to cry. I often would hide in the linen closet to cry. At one time even a search party was sent out there was I mean like a search party but you know family had to go look for me because they couldn’t find me. And I do believe that time I was in the kitchen cupboard. And so I would hide to go cry because I didn’t feel safe obviously, sharing my emotion. And because I am who I am I you know about Pisces I’m An INFP on Myers Briggs. I’m also a highly sensitive person, I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve. So you really do not usually have to guess how I’m feeling. I was really taught though early on to hide how I was feeling. Because expressing my sadness, or anger or anything like that was, was kind of unacceptable or it really wasn’t embraced. I do feel like because my mom had not addressed a lot of her own grief in her life and didn’t know how to respond to mine and often would respond in anger. And so when my children were young, I often did the same, I would respond and had a hair-trigger for anger. Grief recovery has caused a lot of reflection in my life, if I would have had this information that I have today, back then. I do feel like I would have been a very different parent. And that’s why I’m also very passionate about this work.

Myth 2 | Replace the Loss

But coming back to the myth of don’t feel bad, we then morph into another myth of replacing the loss. Because if we expand on that, let’s say, as a child when my father passed away, he was 44 and I was eight, I was the youngest. And my next sibling is he was 14 at the time. And so my mom really rather quickly replaced the loss of my father. And that message, obviously really has stuck with me because that’s what I was seeing. That’s what I was learning. And growing up, we lose someone, replace them, right? replace the loss. And a simple message like this is passed on, even just by a child losing a pet, don’t feel bad Victoria, we can get another dog tomorrow, right? Or friend moves away? Well, don’t be sad there’s plenty of other friends you can make and you can try to find other friends. It’s these, they’re unintentionally hurtful. But they are damaging, these messages are damaging. And this is what influence learning is, it’s this generational learning that is passed down to us. And so if we expand this on into teenagers fall in love for the first time, and end up breaking up or let’s say my son had a girlfriend, and he got ditched. And I would say, don’t feel bad, there is plenty of fish in the sea. How often do we say things like that, right? So we have one math Don’t feel bad, then we add on to it with replacing the loss. And, if you’re going to cry, go to your room. That’s okay. There’s plenty of fish in the sea.

Myth 3 | Grieve Alone

This expands to the next math, laugh and the whole world laughs with you. And I bet you can finish that sentence, right? Cry and you cry alone. And it’s heartbreaking to realize that when you’re sad and might really benefit from some emotional understanding that you were taught to be by yourself. And so this leads into the next myth of grief. And that is to grieve alone. We can remember all of these instances in our childhood. And I’m sure as you’re listening, you’re thinking of some things yourself, it would be sad enough if it ended with feeling dismissed and misunderstood as a child as I did. Unfortunately, though this kind of misinformation becomes the foundation of lifelong habits. Many of which directly interfere with our ability to be happy. It’s tragic, right? It is absolutely tragic. If I need to grieve alone, then you do too. We grow up feeling like these are the correct ways to respond, to grieve, to isolate, to grieve alone, to not feel bad. And if I’m growing up believing that this is how you deal with grief, right? then you should too. This is how you do it too. And so we pass this on and this is how we respond to society as well.

The day my dad died, I was in school, and my sister is the one that came to get me. And I just remember it was like this out, it’s like an out-of-body experience. I can see myself holding your hand and we’re walking down the hall. It’s like, a kid you not. It’s like this out-of-body experience, I can see it today. And I’m looking at the back of us. And she says to me, “Dad died.” And at that moment, I don’t know what I was thinking at that time. But the impact of that statement changed my entire life. I was not given the opportunity to share what I was feeling, to share what I was experiencing. I saw my father lying in his casket and there was no discussion, no conversation with me about what this meant. There was no support for me. The teachers didn’t even know how to respond, the school didn’t know how to respond. Obviously, my friends, my peers, my classmates, the same age as me, didn’t know how to respond. I just remember that being like a very lonely time for me. That I do remember, the one statement that sticks out in my brain is that at my dad’s funeral. I remember someone saying and talking about me, she doesn’t know what’s going on. Anyway, I looked at my children at the age of eight. And I thought about that scenario of where I was growing up, when I was eight, in that what was going on in my life at that time. And there is no doubt in my mind that if my children’s father had passed away when they were eight, that they would not have understood or known what was happening or going on, children understand far more than we give them credit for. I mean, if you can take a three-year-old and give them an iPad that they have never seen or touched, and they can figure it out, you can bet your bottom dollar that they understand the emotional connection. And when that’s lost.

Myth 4 | It Just Takes Time

So up to this point, we’ve talked about not feeling bad, replacing the loss, and grieving alone. And next, we’re going to talk about the next myth is just give it time. Because why? Time heals all wounds. Or does it? I’m here to tell you, it absolutely does nothing that passes the two messages that replacing a loss and just give it time do not go together. Because if replacing the loss would have fixed my mother, she wouldn’t have to wait for time to heal her. And on the other hand, if time were to heal her, then maybe she wouldn’t have been in such a hurry to replace the loss. The concept that time heals is probably responsible for more heartache than any other single wrong idea our society has about dealing with grief. Because the terrible part is that it isn’t true. It’s one of those falsehoods that’s been passed down from generation to generation. And the mistaken idea that after enough time passes, something will magically change to make us whole again, is really preposterous. If we were dealing with any other human pain, no one would say just give it time. If you came across a person with a broken arm, you wouldn’t say just give it time. Just as broken bones should be properly set to heal and ultimately function again, so must the emotional heart. And I can tell you after 30 plus years of grieving the loss of my father, the time has done nothing for me but it is the action I’ve taken within that time that has mattered. So time heals is absolutely false. And we need to quit buying into it as a society. If you discovered that your car had a flat tire, would you pull up a chair next to the car and sit and wait for the air to somehow get back into the tire? No, it’s silly. Why would you do that? So time itself does not heal. It is what you do within time that will help you complete the pain caused by loss and I’m a testament to this. So far, we’ve covered four of the six myths. Don’t feel bad, replace the loss, grieve alone, and just give it time.

Myth 5 | Be Strong (For Yourself & Others)

Next, we’ll talk about being strong for others. There are no specific instructions on how to do that. It’s one of those expressions that sounds good but has no real value. And it has to be one of the most confusing ideas relating to the loss. And it’s confusing because it is undoable. Truly, if you think about it, be strong for others. What does that even look like? You can be strong or you can be human. And you know what, we’re all human. So I’m not even sure what being strong means. And when I think about being strong for others, or for yourself. It’s like a passage that we put on the show of I got this, this is gonna get me down. When really inside, we’re probably crumbling a little. We don’t have that support. And we know we don’t have that support we need because of these myths I’m talking about that society has taught us that our parents and their parents have taught. We apply these myths that don’t feel bad, replace the loss, grieve alone, just give it time, because of how society responds to us. And because of what we’ve learned, we attempt to be strong, we attempt to have broad shoulders and a strong back, because we don’t have the support to do anything but that right?

Myth 6 | Keep Busy

Another myth that is common that most people believe to be true and helpful yet it is neither is to keep busy, that you must stay active or keep busy are two clichés that we all have heard following any kind of significant loss. And here’s one important question, Does keeping busy discover and complete the pain caused by loss? The obvious answer is no. Well, then what does keeping busy accomplish if anything, it distracts you. And it makes one more day go by keeping busy buries the pain of the loss under an avalanche of activity. Every griever can attest to doing something to distract themselves from what they are feeling. And this is absolutely exhausting. And there are other dangers to and keeping busy. I have defined grief as the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or a change in a familiar pattern of behavior. So a death, a divorce, or any other major loss produces massive changes in all things that are familiar. And it is very difficult to adapt to life after loss. If you were never a busy person before a loss, keeping busy would add yet another major change to what was familiar. The most dangerous flaw of keeping busy is the idea that it will make you feel better. Busyness is just a distraction. It does not alter the fact that you have to take direct actions to complete the pain caused by the loss. So we have discussed six pieces of information, miss information about dealing with loss. Don’t feel bad, replace the loss, grieve alone, just give it time, be strong for others, and keeping busy.

None of these ideas lead us to the actions of discovering and completing the unfinished emotions that accrue in all relationships. And I can tell you, I identify with every single one. And I would bet if you’re listening to this, and you’re thinking about your losses, you resonate with this too. Earlier I talked about you know the grave and alone myth and how it teaches us to isolate ourselves. Since isolation is one of the problems confronting grievers in our society then participation is clearly part of the solution. So I encourage you to participate in your own recovery and suggest that you start right now. Using the list of the six incorrect ideas as a guide. See if you can think of any other ideas that you were taught or that influenced your beliefs about dealing with sad, painful, or negative feelings. All of these myths I’ve shared with you today cause us to have an indifference about our own losses. And lead to us pretending to put on an Academy Award recovery front to pretend that we’re happier than we are, to put on a brave smile, to really almost avoid even talking about our loss. Because other people have been taught these very same things and reflect on us based on their perspective and their lens of their loss. How we should be responding. Either we’re grieving too long, or not long enough, or talking about it too much or not enough. Right?

We can never satisfy society and how we express our grief. But when it comes down to it, we are all a little uncomfortable around other people’s losses, because we are incredibly uncomfortable facing our own. From my heart to yours, thank you for listening. If you liked this episode, please share it because sharing is caring. And until next time, give and share compassion by being hurt with yours. And if you’re hurting know that what you’re feeling is normal and natural.

much love, victoria

 

 

 

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