This is a blog post about a flow chart about healing from loss as told with the assistance of Sound of Music gifs. Because that’s how I roll.
Behold diagram 1.1.
This is a chart about healing. It starts with loss (a heck of a lotta loss) and ends with connection, love, community and healing. (Cue the happy music!)
I got to thinking, wow what a wild and crazy path it has been…twists and turns, lots of suffering (oy, enough with the suffering!) and finally, shifts into other ways of being.
I also realized I haven’t really written my story from start to finish. SO I SHALL!
With that in mind…
Lets start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read you begin with A-B-C
When you hurt you begin with GRIEF-AND-LOSS. (Grief and Loss!)
My journey started with the loss of my mom. She was 63, and had been diagnosed with breast cancer nearly two decades earlier when she was 43. She had some good years in between but in the end, the massive radiation and chemo that gave her those extra years also damaged her brain, her nerves, her mobility. By the time 2013 rolled around she was not doing well, and we lost her in September of that year.
I was 35 and my daughter turned 8 months old the day my mother died.
Grief surprised me with its force and ferocity. I will be frank with you guys: I’ve suffered a share of dark nights of the soul. I survived childhood trauma and have been through PTSD and massive anxiety, and well, I must admit…I did not expect grief to be that bad.
And the universe laughed and laughed!
Patton Oswald wrote about this recently and captured it so well (with profanity! You have been warned). As he wrote, “Thanks Grief. Thanks for making depression look like the buzzing little bully it always was….Grief is Jason Statham holding that 4th grade bully’s head in a toilet and then fucking the teacher you’ve got a crush on in front of the class. Grief makes depression cower behind you and apologize for being such a dick.”
All the other stuff I went through? Fueled by fear. Love as we know is SO much stronger than fear.
SO THE CHART. Back to the chart. The intense love for my mom and the loss in my heart…well the experience truly cracked open my heart.
Broken hearts, if tended to and healed, can grow back larger and stronger. Just remember that if you find yourself feeling broken-hearted. (As a human, i promise you will. Likely again and again. OH HUMANITY.)
Broken heart, pain, yes….but my story doesn’t stop there. It would be such a tiny chart now wouldn’t it! You may notice that loss isn’t listed once on my chart. NO NELLY IT IS NOT. Rather, the chart says loss loss loss loss lossssss!
It turns out that grief begets grief. By this I mean, if you feel the feels, you might find yourself opening a wellspring of MORE UNDERLYING UNRESOLVED GRIEF. This, my friends, is the part of my diagram marked “More grief? What gives???”
What gives indeed. In my experience it went like this: I’m grieving the loss of my mom…I’m doing the therapy, I’m writing the writing, making progress… I decided to start to get pregnant. Oh this pregnancy journey. Well I could just tell my body had shut down. I could feel it in my bones. I knew that I needed some kind of shift in my body if I was ever going to get pregnant again.
So I did what all hippy dippy types do and I went to acupuncture! It was incredible (it always has been a wonderful tool for me), and let me tell you this, it released a veritable flood gates. WAYYY OPEN. Tears flowed forth like the Danube…I remember asking my acupuncturist. I was like, uh excuse me but shouldn’t I be seeing less grief over time? Because mine seems to be INTENSIFYING. And she flashed a knowing smile and said, ah, but does it seem to stick or flow with you? I said, oh it flows, it just flows and flows and then stops but then more comes!
She said, Sarah – that is a huge shift. HUGE.
SO MUCH BURIED GRIEF CAME FORTH. It was like every loss I ever felt in my life…loss of childhood innocence from trauma, loss of family and friends, loss of my fitbit that my three-year-old ran off with and hid somewhere (and why isn’t it in the dog crate where she usually throws things??) Every. Single. Loss. It was surfacing big time.
One day though I noticed…things were looking up. Things were making a corner. Turning a corner. Turning around in a corner. What the hell is that saying?
Ahem. You might have a hunch that the story does not stop here. No it does not. (That is a big freaking chart I drew isn’t it?)
Yeah…the next thing on the chart is SUFFERING. With little arrows that say “isolation!” and “self-blame!” and “Bad things happen to bad people!”
Yes, you see, sometimes life is….shall we say…unpredictable. And downright crummy. Yeah I said it – CRUMMY.
My life threw me a curve ball. Maybe my life was getting turned around in that corner metaphor that I was mixed up about. I don’t know. But it was basically like, HA you thought you had enough grief? Not so fast missy.
This wasn’t the end of my story.Maybe I just didn’t exactly squeeze all the life lessons out of grief and loss.
The universe piled on one more loss. Yeah you could say that it got my attention.