|"When the dam breaks"|
If I asked for examples of coping strategies I would likely meet defence mechanisms such as humour or deflection. If I asked about the rituals or ways of memorializing that had taken place following the death of their loved one, I might hear about ceremonies planned for the public and see very few representations of personal moments.
Stuffing grief is a coping mechanism and I felt comfortable sitting with someone who stuffed their grief and discussing strategies of self-care and supports that would help if stuffing no longer worked. Moreover, through these conversations of self-compassion the grief would start to surface and we might begin to unpack the loss and its impact on the person's life.
I am illustrating my experience of the grief stuffer because I have not known one who looks like this:
So here I am writing this blog about the person who stuffs their grief. I didn't think it was me but this year has been filled with little BIG things. They were not all deaths but they were all significant losses for me or people I loved. There was an impact on me and I did little to face that.
Here are a few examples of how I have been affected:
- My education has been filled with losses - my expectations have not been met or I have not gotten the level of learning I was hoping for.
- Financial independence - I did not realize that my core beliefs would be challenged by not working and having my "own earnings."
- Health - the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome changed my physical and mental health (most likely forever).
- Relationships - I just cannot give what I want to, to the people I care about.
- Friendships - some survive the complexity of graduate school commitments/stress and some don't. That translates into a level of isolation and loneliness that I was not prepared for
- Family - Diagnosis has changed our worldview and while it isn't my health, it is still my heart that hurts knowing that we are left to our faith in medicine combined with a helpless positivity.
The first thing I did - sob. Not for everyone, I recognize. Let's face it - the gut wrenching, back heaving crying that contorts your face and hurls primitive sounds from your guts is few people's first choice at coping, but it was a start and that was more than I had given myself in a year. I am only beginning to figure out how to cope and allow for these losses. Stay tuned as I continue on this journey into self-awareness.