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Michelle and John, 1988

Complicated grief

An abnormal response to bereavement that includes unrelieved yearning for the dead person, the complete loss of previous positive beliefs or worldviews, and a general inability to function.

There are times when we have trouble with our grief and we then stop living our lives. The fact is that this is normal for a period of time but if it is prolonged then you could be dealing with complicated grief.
The whole definition of complicated grief is much more involved than that which is stated above; however, for the sake of simplicity, I chose to use this definition. I am no expert and I am not a professional. I only have plenty of experience with grief.
When I lost my grandparents and my father, I grieved very normally. I was very sad and cried. This lasted for some time but I eventually was able to cope with the loss and the knowledge that my family members still exist. I am very aware of their presences and I know we will be reunited.
When I lost my babies, Tina and Ricky, my grief was much more intense. I went into a very deep depression. I became self-destructive and suicidal. I spent many years in and out of psychiatric hospitals, dealing with therapists and doctors and taking a wide variety of medications. This was complicated grief.
Many years later, my oldest son, John, crossed over. He was 26 years old when he took his own life and we were very close. In fact, we are still very close. As I said, I am aware of my Spirit family’s presences and we continue our relationships. This does not negate the fact that I grieve and am in pain. It is still loss. When John crossed over my grief was very severe for a very long time but with the help of other grieving mothers, I coped much better this time. I still cried, was depressed and sad but I was able to recreate a new life for myself. I am very aware that my son took his life but I am also very aware that he still exists, because we are all eternal beings and only our bodies die, we do not.
Being a different person after the death of your child is very normal and common. I definitely am not the same person. I believe that I am a better and stronger person now. There are some, however, who change but not for their own benefit. The anger and bitterness, which is normal in the earlier stages of grief, continue on for many years or the rest of the person’s life. They cannot have healthy relationships and do not lead a fulfilling life.
Never returning to the person you were before your child crossed over is not a bad thing unless the new person you have become does not enjoy life. Yes, enjoying life after your child crosses over is difficult but it is possible. I enjoy my life now. It took me a long time and much work to get to this point and I still have moments of unbearable pain but, for the most part, my life is enjoyable.
My first discovery to learning how to enjoy life was gratitude. I found that focusing on what I do have and not what I do not have made me a happier person. Instead of focusing on the fact that my son’s physical presence was gone, I focused on the fact that he continues to live in Spirit. In fact, we are more alive when fully in Spirit than we we are incarnated. I focused also on the fact that it is possible to continue a relationship with my three oldest children. The relationship is much different but it is a relationship nonetheless. I focused on my relationship with my youngest son and the rekindling of my relationship with my ex-husband. I focused on my beautiful tiny home in a beautiful rural area which I love and feel grateful to live in. I focused on my hobbies. Anything that brings me joy, I focused on.
I also discovered Spirituality and began to study that. I found a freedom there that I never knew existed. I learned that being myself was acceptable and expected by our Creator. I learned that it was acceptable to take care of myself if only I would give myself permission to do so. I learned about humanity and oneness, the vastness of the Universe and I learned about meditation, which changed my life.
I learned that I could be by myself and not be lonely. I engaged in more social activities and learned that I was able to handle it. I learned that I was lovable just as I am and I really do not need to worry what others think.
When we are grieving we must constantly check ourselves to make sure that we are not sabotaging our health. I think we need to be aware of our thoughts and emotions constantly so that we understand what triggers our grief, what we should do when these triggers arise and why they are triggering us. I have found that when I have this awareness I can make the choice to avoid these triggers or I can be prepared in advance to deal with them. When I am now triggered, I have the ability to bring myself back into the moment much more quickly and resume my life as it is now. I no longer relive the past for long periods of time. If you should find that you are having difficulty in figuring out your triggers, their causes and how to deal with them, I would suggest seeking out a good grief therapist.
We must realize that we should not feel guilty for enjoying our lives. The ones who have crossed over are enjoying themselves more than they did in the Physical Realm and they want us to enjoy ourselves, too. They want us to be happy and healthy. They want us to continue to live because they love us and they are still living. – Michelle
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