What Makes Grieving Even More Painful.

When it comes to grieving a loss, whether is the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, the loss of a job, or another major loss, there is a lot of good information out there about what is natural to feel and experience.

Most people know about Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ model on grieving, and it’s very helpful to be aware of those natural stages of grief and allow oneself to fully experience them. As you may be aware, they are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance—and they can occur in any order and may repeat.

Having supported many clients through loss, I’ve seen additional feelings that go beyond these natural stages of grief. These additional experiences surrounding loss fall under the umbrella that I call Learned Distress, the feeling we absorbed early in life that there is something wrong with us being exactly the way we are. Learned Distress can make grieving even more painful than it is naturally.

Here are the biggest Learned Distress contributors to grieving that I have seen:

1. It’s not safe to feel this.

Many people feel that their survival depends on burying or denying any “negative” feelings.

So, you can imagine how troubling it is for someone with this survival mechanism to enter especially the anger and depression stages. Things may feel very out of control when they start to feel this natural anger or depression come up, so on top of feeling that negative intensity, they also have a strong feeling of not being safe piled on top of it.

As a result, it can take longer for the anger and depression to move through them than it might for someone who is more able to allow themselves to feel these things.

2. There’s something wrong with my ability to rely on myself.

This feeling often leads to what is known as co-dependence. This person feels that they need the person or situation (like a job) they’ve lost in order to survive, that they can’t do it all on their own, and that this person or situation was the only way they could get their needs met.

3. I don’t know how to handle this.

When it comes to loss, whether it’s a person or a situation, it is likely that we have never been through something similar. It’s typical for someone to feel a sense of panic either anticipating this loss or after it occurs, just from the feeling that they don’t know the rules that they have to follow or that they don’t have a road map for handling all of the situations and feelings related to this loss.

If you’re facing loss and you’re experiencing any of these additional stressors, there are a couple of things you can do to help yourself.

4. Know that you have everything you need within you.

Even if you’ve never been in this position before, you have within you what I call natural well-being, which can give you the support you need in any situation. (This can include feeling stronger within yourself or being pointed toward resources that can help you.)

> If it feels unsafe to experience your negative feelings, you can remind yourself that your well-being is what allows you to be perfectly safe, no matter what you are feeling.
> If you feel like you can’t handle life on your own, you can remind yourself that your well-being gives you the resources you need to rely on yourself.
> If you’re feeling like you don’t know how to handle this situation, know that your well-being actually does know how to do that and can guide you through it.

5. Know that it’s okay to feel anything.

This is what I always remind my clients when they are grieving. And “anything” really means that—angry, sad, depressed, neutral, numb, or even happy. All of these things are okay to feel at any time when you’ve experienced a great loss.

The more you give yourself permission to really feel anything, the more these feelings can move through you in just the time and way that is right for you.

Keeping these two phrases with you—”I have everything I need within me,” and, “It’s okay to feel anything,”—may be very helpful to you the next time you’re grieving.

I hope that you’ll be able to treat yourself with gentleness through your next difficult loss.


 Like elephant health & wellness on Facebook.


Ed: Bryonie Wise

Source: layinthefire.tumblr.com via Michele on Pinterest


You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

PeoriaJean Apr 19, 2013 5:15pm

Would like to add: Don't be ashamed or afraid to get professional help if you need it. Sometimes self-reliance has to be learned.

Carolyn Riker Apr 18, 2013 11:18pm

Excellent article and very helpful. Thank you!

Read The Best Articles of March
You voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares.

Sara Avery

Sara Avery’s passion is helping people uncover the energy that creates their story and the uniqueness of who they really are. In 2001, she transitioned from her first career as an orchestral violinist to guiding people through the deep transformation of Quanta Change.

Quanta Change identifies Learned Distress (the feeling that “there is something wrong with me” absorbed in the womb and early in life) as the source of non-well-being. This unique process works with your brain during sleep to permanently remove layers of Learned Distress, allowing your natural well-being to become the source from which your life is generated.

Sara’s clients discover a new ease and joy in life that they’ve never experienced—in emotional, spiritual, and physical realms. One client said, “I’ve been seeking for 40 years, and this is by far the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.” Learn more on her website or read more from Sara on her blog. Or, connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.