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What All Grievers Need

Two times, yesterday, I received counseling.  Once while visiting with my oldest (we’ve known each other and remained friends for over 30 years) girlfriend over coffee, and then later with our grief counselor during an appointment that had been scheduled for a few weeks.  Both were greatly needed, and both helped me immensely.

I have been struggling worse than I have for many months, ever since Christmas was over – about 6 weeks; wrestling with near-constant anger and unknowingly suppressing and internalizing it, to the point it had become depression.  I had completely forgotten that that is what happens when you suppress, deny or internalize anger – it turns on you and becomes a deep, dark hole inside you that is so hard to get out of.  My counselor reminded me……again…….of how that happens, and I how I manage to easily, almost sneakily, land myself there………..in that deep, dark hole.  Feeling hopeless, helpless and unable to save myself from it.

I haven’t been writing for a while – since about Christmas – because I’ve felt so judged.  By myself and by others.  I’m just sure I should be farther along on this awful, unwanted grief journey and so I berate myself for crying, for being angry, for wanting to talk……..again…………about what me and my family are going through as a result of our middle son and brother dying in a tragic car accident.

I ran across this poetic prose a few days ago, and promptly ordered the book it is from so I could further glean the wisdom and affirmation it offers my aching heart.  The book is titled, Permission to Mourn – A New Way to Do Grief, by Tom Zuba.

It says what I know to be true, but often fight with myself about, not wanting to “burden” anyone with my burden.

I need to tell my story.

It doesn’t matter that it has been a little over 4 years since my middle son died so explosively, utterly shattering what I knew to be my life.

It doesn’t matter.

I still need to write about it.

That is how I “talk”.

And I still need to talk about it.

I hope you enjoy reading this poem, and hear my heart as you do.  This poem expresses my hope for anyone, including myself, who is ever grieving any kind of loss.

This is what we all need.

 

Sit Down
I invite you to sit down.

In the chair next to me.

I will breathe with you.
In and out.
In and out.
In and out.
So your mind can slow down.
And your heartbeat can soften.
And your body can begin to release
the tension and tightness
you have been carrying for such a long
long
long time.
It is okay for you to speak.
Or to remain silent.
For as long as you like.
For as long as you need.
When you are ready to talk.
I will listen.
To all of it.
Start whenever you want.
At the beginning.
The middle.
The end.
It is okay if you jump around.
If you repeat yourself.
If you forget some of the details
or some of the order
and have to go back and start over.
It is okay with me if you cry.
A lot.
I’ll give you the opportunity
to tell me about the death of your beloved.
All of it.
I’ll let you tell me about the day your life changed.
Forever.
So many people ask me
“Is healing possible?
And if it is possible
what do I do?
To heal?”
Yes
healing is possible.
And contrary to popular belief
part of the way you heal
is to tell your story
over and over
and over again.
Why?
Because the truth is
that at the time of your loved one’s death
if you were really able to fully grasp
the magnitude of what happened
and all its implications
you would most likely not be able to survive.
Literally.
If the breadth
and scope
and all-encompassing reach
of your beloved’s death
came crashing down on you in one explosion
you
yourself
would implode.
It’s just too much.
So
your spirit
your mind
your body protects you
by allowing the truth to sink in slowly
over time
at a pace you can live with.
And it’s in telling the story of what happened
over
and over
and over again
that you are able to see and come to know the truth.
The magnitude.
Of what has happened.
It’s important to comb through the details.
To relive the sights
the sounds
the smells.
Go ahead and ask
“What If and Why didn’t I and If only?”
Make sure nothing is off limits.
Look in every corner.
In every crevice.
Turn over every rock.
So that nothing is secret
or hidden.
So that no part of the experience is hands-off
or locked behind a closed door.
Allow no part of the experience
you’ve lived through
to have any kind of power over you.
Walk through all of it.
And yes
it’s painful.
Especially at first.
But keep on telling your story.
Over
and over
and over again.
And after much time has passed.
And you’ve told your story
more times than you can possibly remember.
You will come to the day
when you begin telling it again.
Like you’ve done
so many hundreds of times before.
Because you know
that telling the story is a path to healing.
And you discover
that you can’t tell it.
Not one more time.
You don’t have the energy
or the desire
or the strength
or the need to tell it one more time.
You just can’t do it.
And with your exhale
you say to yourself
“This is what healing feels like.”
I invite you to sit down.
In the chair next to me.
And when you are ready to talk.
I’ll listen.
To all of it.

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