What does it mean to be ‘stuck’ in grief with no way of moving forward?
All losses are felt the same way as when a person dies, which can seem quite amazing that the loss of a home, job, a limb or mobility can produce the same feelings. However, loss is loss and those feelings can impact the same way on a person’s life and the feelings are normal for what they are going through.
Well, what are ‘normal’ feelings. A person can feel very overwhelmed; they are working through feelings such as, confusion, anger, depression, anxiety, disappointment, ‘what if’, and ‘if only’. ‘What if’ I had been a better person, not said what I did, was kinder? ‘If only’ I had spent more time with her or him, I didn’t leave the house in anger that day, I visited more often? These are normal reactions to the loss of someone close as we come to terms with their parting.
When a person recognises they are stuck in their grief, that they are not going crazy or mad, they are overwhelmed and not knowing what to do, it can produce a ‘lightbulb’ moment and a comment may be “I never really thought of being stuck in my grief”.
There can be a multitude of losses a person has travelled through in their lifetime and often the unresolved grief issues from their past will surface when they are going through a current grief situation and it can make the grief seem unbearable with very little understanding or knowledge of what is actually happening.
Let’s face it these feelings are not nice to have, so sometimes thoughts of suicide can come up. Often though it is not that a person wants to kill themselves, they just want the pain of the feelings to end or die.
If these feelings are so normal, why do I feel so bad?
Of course the natural response is to bury them so we don’t have to feel them so much. Where do they go when we bury them? Do they remain in a covert position inside the body never to be felt again? Obviously not, as eventually something will trigger a thought; could be a smell, a song, a place you visit, that brings back memories from ages ago, even years.
So what to do then? Once again it would be easy to just bury the feelings and not want to have to handle the painful memories. Unfortunately the pain and the memories are always going to be yours. To remember and re-experience the pain is not abnormal, even many years later.
One of the other tricky things about grief is that we as humans can have physical responses to any loss, such as headaches, abdominal pain, throat tightness, restlessness, back pain, fatigue, nausea, chest heaviness, to name a few which can mean a visit to the doctor to check things out, often with no obvious outcome to the cause. It can be as simple as a person is in deep grief and the body is reacting.
We often don’t grieve the same
So the saying could be ‘we have the same loss, why don’t we have the same grief’ which can be extremely difficult in a personal relationship and within the family unit when family members have different coping strategies and styles. It can be helpful to acknowledge these different coping styles which may assist in finding better ways to cope together and apart.
In my podcast titled the ‘stuck’ place of grief (see links online at https://podcast.janbaylisscounselling.com.au/ ) I unpack more fully that stuck place that nobody really likes and look at the fact that this is just ‘for now’ and ‘it is not always going to be that way’. I also offer some options of being able to work through difficult, uncomfortable feelings in a more productive way.