Does the deealization ever go away
Six signs of incomplete grief
When Jake's father died, his mother, understandably, broke down emotionally. As an only child, he was the one who did the funeral preparations and sorted out the property. When asked how he felt through all of this, he said that he didn't have time to feel much - he was so busy dealing with all the details and being strong for his mother. A year later, he was charged with assault after a biker accidentally slammed his car mirror.
When Amanda's grandmother died, it was not unexpected because she had been sick for a long time. Though Amanda was close to her grandmother, her death and funeral all occurred during her school days, in the middle of exams, 2,000 miles away. Though she has mentally put the loss out of her mind, she's been having dreams lately, fearing that something bad will happen between her and her boyfriend - that he breaks up with her for no reason or gets involved in a terrible car accident.
Emma was suddenly and unexpectedly laid off after a business reorganization she had had for several years and had close friends in. But she didn't let the fire get her down. She hurried and found someone else within a few days. While the new job isn't particularly stressful, she noticed that it was binge eating, especially on the weekend.
With every loss comes grief, a natural process that is our human way of emotional healing. But all too often this normal process is blocked or distracted or pushed underground.
Here are some common signs of incomplete grief:
Irritability / anger
I have met many clients over the years who mention therapy for anger management or irritability and somewhere in the third session that their partners thought they had been particularly irritable in the six months since their father or mother died. How did you react then? I ask. Often times, by ascending, it was pushing away grief, which resulted in an unexpected explosion or constant irritability.
Continuation of the obsession / lack of the other
The obsession with what happened and why, and the feeling of those pains of grief and loss are part of normal grief, especially in the following weeks. But sometimes a person gets stuck on emotional rewind and cannot move forward. They dial the deceased's phone number or play off moments of regret or crying when the lost person or something sad is mentioned.
Hyper-alertness / fear of loss
After a loss, life can seem more fragile, a person can feel more vulnerable, the world can seem unsafe. In response to these thoughts and feelings, the person may become oversensitive and alert and now prepared to be prepared for the worst.
With every significant loss, consciously or unconsciously, we make a decision about how we need to be to avoid dealing with such pain and trauma again. When incomplete grief is added to the mix, a person can overreact. One person may become more dependent on one partner while another person may swing to the other side and withdraw from others to avoid any sense of closeness in order to avoid potential loss and pain. This type of coping can quickly solidify into a longer-term pattern in relationships.
Addictive behavior / self-harming behavior
Where, by putting aside their emotions, some internalize many and become angry or hyper-alerted, others can keep those feelings in check, for example by overeating. For others, it can still be drugs, workaholism, or high-risk behaviors.
Apathy / deafness / inferior depression
Here, turning off grief is like throwing a heavy blanket over our emotional selves. The result is an emotional numbness, a mild but persistent depression, a why-disruptive attitude, a lack of energy, drive, motivation.
Complete the grieving process
If you suspect that you are struggling with the loss of past losses, no matter how small or large, there are few things you can do:
- Get closure. One effective way to do this is to write down your thoughts. I have an exercise that I use with clients that has been effective - see "Conclusion: 3 Letter" For instructions on how to do this on my blog.
- Approach what you might avoid. Jake, whose father has died, might visit his father's grave, which he found excuses for. Amanda can speak to her mother about her grandmother or the funeral. rather than cutting Emma can keep in touch with colleagues from her old job or write a letter to the CEO describing how she felt about the layoff process.
- Behavioral change your patterns. Obviously, if you've gotten into bad patterns, you want to change them. Pushing against your anxiety-driven behaviors can help you feel more in control and stop the negative cycle.
- Look at the therapy. Since all of this is difficult and often tied to other core issues, this is a good time to consult a therapist, even for a short therapy session, to challenge and support you. Grief is about you and your relationships with others, and it helps when others help you with your grief.
While it is emotionally painful, the natural process of grief helps us heal. If you got stuck on the trail for any reason, help yourself complete the process.
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