Thursday, December 11, 2008

Loss and feelings

A friend of mine has - within the past week - experienced the loss of a dear one.

Losing a loved one is often traumatic. Our feelings range from shock to denial to anger to acceptance to grief to guilt to relief to sadness to -- whatever we are experiencing at any given point in this whirl of emotions that occasionally overwhelm us and interfere with our normal everyday routines. Our comfort zone at times seems to completely disappear in this maelstrom, and we wonder if things will ever be normal again.

Well, things will never be the same! That loss, if permanent, will always be with us. A new definition of 'normal' will be created, and we will move on.

For me, the most important first step that one can take in the grieving process is to recognize what one is feeling so that validation can take place.

I grew up with a father who 'tut tutted' me. What do I mean by that? Well, try "It's not that bad." or "You don't really feel that way." I didn't know it at the time, of course. It is only in retrospect, after psychotherapy sessions and many many years later, that I realize how damaging statements of that nature were to my feelings of confidence and sense of self-worth. What he had meant as words of comfort did not serve to have a good effect long term.

Instead of developing into and becoming an independent and mature person who was well-grounded, I became a "woman who loves too much" - one who is dependent upon others for recognition, approval, and validation.

To compound the problem, I married my father. Not literally, you understand, but for almost another twenty years I was subjected to the same or very similar platitudes.

It was only years after our divorce and he had entered into a serious relationship with a woman he subsequently married that he said, when I called him - sobbing - on the phone to tell him that a person we had both enjoyed tremendously had accidentally shot and killed himself while cleaning his gun, "Oh, that is sad!"

Now, I am fully aware of my emotions. I was really 'down' at Thanksgiving and even for a few days afterwards this year, and wrote extensively about my feelings in the post "Religion and me" , published November 28th.

I am on a slightly more even keel now. Think I'll be OK. Not to worry.

However, because of my background, one of my more pushable 'hot buttons' is when someone tries to tell me how I feel. Please, do not attempt to tell me how I feel! I feel how I feel how I feel how I feel, and - unless you are me, you do not 'know' how I feel!!

I admit I was a little miffed a couple of days ago when I learned that my daughter said that I am 'angry' - this in re Thanksgiving and Christmas. (You'd have to read my post - linked above - to understand what I'm talking about here.) She didn't say, "She seems angry." Do you see a difference there?

I have since accepted the fact that she thinks I am angry. She has a right to think whatever she pleases. Just don't tell me or anyone else what my feelings are!

My friend buried a family member yesterday. I have sent many thoughts and prayers my friend's way. Perhaps you will have a moment to do the same.

1 comment:

Tammy said...

Warm thoughts to you and your friend.....