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What PTSD and grief have in common is that the emotions we experience are not related solely to the traumatic event we have experienced. In my new book Thriving Loss: Move beyond grief to a place of peace, passion and purpose I talk about being prepared for the unexpected.
Grief is never what you think it’s going to be. It’s sneaky. It doesn’t just stay within your current experience. It likes to reach deep into you and bring up any other experience of loss and lay that bare at the same time.
We are not good at dealing with emotions, either individually or as a society. As a result our current loss can trigger other experiences of loss that we’ve had in the past and have not dealt with. This gives us the challenging task of dealing both with our past losses as well as our current one. It can be very hard to know where one starts and the other ends.
When we think about grief and loss we immediately think of death and loved ones dying. It’s possible that these may be your other unresolved losses but even if this is the first death of a loved one that you’ve experienced there will still be other losses present.
I used to be very good at not showing emotion. I learned early on that my stepfather would manipulate any emotions. It was easier to present a façade. Even when I was being bullied at school, the bullies didn’t realize how much it was affecting me. I didn’t show any emotion. When my brother died I realized how important he was to me and I needed to feel that.
What I didn’t realize is that I’d never truly felt any of my emotions before that. My grief after my brother died wasn’t just about his death. It was compounded by all the other losses I’d experienced in my life and hadn’t acknowledged until then. I’d blocked a lot of my childhood out. There was much that I couldn’t remember, including a great deal of my time growing up with my brother.
I wanted to remember. I wanted to remember my brother as he was before he started taking lots of drugs ? and I couldn’t. The memories were locked away. In order to reach these memories I had to open the door to all the memories and all the pain I’d stuffed down inside of me.
Think about these questions:
• What else is coming up for you that is related to previous losses?
• What themes are present in all your experiences of loss?
• How can you start to heal these?
As we go deeper into transforming our experiences of PTSD and grief we have an opportunity not to just let go of the pain surrounding the event that triggered it. We also have an opportunity to let go of hidden pain that is unconsciously present within our psyche. This can manifest as health issues, weight gain and unhealthy habits amongst other things. By addressing the unexpected when it rises up we offer ourselves a wonderful gift by having the courage to explore and release this additional baggage.
Tabitha Jayne helps women affected the death of a family member fully let go of the pain so that they can move beyond grief to a place of peace, passion and purpose and transform their loss into a legacy that can make a lasting, positive impact upon the world. To find out more about the book and her unique 5-step healing process Tree of Transformation go to www.thrivingloss.com. You can also find more articles on Tabitha’s blog at www.tabithajayne.com/blog
The ideas expressed here solely belong to the author.
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