Dealing with Grief and Tragedy - Part 4
One of the things I found going through all these experiences was that it was very important to let out my feelings and express myself, whether it was anger. sadness, numbness or whatever the feeling was. It had to come out. When we suppress our feelings and bottle them up for various reasons, eventually they explode and usually in a context that is so minor and totally unrelated to the way we are feeling. just the smallest thing can trigger you off - for me there wasn't even a trigger - just the fact that I was about to go into a period of rest after keeping myself insanely busy and that just freaked me out - suddenly it hit me - I hadn't thought about it - but it got me.
Here are some of the things I have discovered are amazingly therapeutic when you have suffered pain. They have worked for me and given me focus again.
- Talking - I found that talking about the incident ( not in graphic detail of course) really helped me because I would get a bit teary eyed ( and I still do 11 years later) but that somehow it was healing for me each time I let out those emotions. It also helps me to remember people I don't want to forget. Talking to strangers was even helpful at times, but you do need to be ready for this otherwise it can come out angry and bitter.
- Journalling/Blogging - People always used to tell me that keeping a journal was the most amazing thing ever. I just didn't get it at the time. Why would I want to waste time writing everything down? It just seemed pointless to me. I didn't keep a journal of my feelings after my family's car accident - I wish I had as it might have made the process of healing a lot easier. I did however begin to blog and journal after another painful incident we went through in 2007. I was grieving in another sense as we had some broken relationships through church and it was very, very painful and I couldn't understand why it was happening or how it had happened. I won't go into detail as I have dealt with it all, but writing became my lifeline and my way of releasing all my pain and hurt without taking it out on people or laying blame verbally. They were my notes and my perspective and my feelings alone. Even writing about things unrelated to the actual incident brought me freedom and joy and released a part of myself creatively that was absolutely liberating. I discovered I loved writing. So this really healed my heart and gave me new enthusiasm for something else - it has given me direction in my life. I am amazed at this because I was never the English creative writer at school and letter writing was a pain in the rear end, but suddenly this was something about myself that I discovered. There is something truly healing about releasing your inner feelings onto paper, computer etc. There is also safety in it because no one else has to know how your are really feeling if you don't want them to - it is like having a counsellor without actually having a counsellor. I would find that as I expressed myself and really thought about the issues as I typed them I would actually get some insight into why things happened and my part in things. It really did help me. I am a big advocate of writing down your feelings now.
- Forgiveness - This is a huge one! Something I discovered very quickly was that forgiving is important, not for the person you need to forgive, but for your own healing. Being unforgiving only keeps you in bondage - it really doesn't affect the other person at all. They go on with life and you are left feeling angry, resentful, bitter and miserable. Why let someone ruin your life that way. Just telling you to forgive is not helpful though either as our feelings need to be expressed. I am not asking you to just stop feeling - I still get moments of sadness or anger at certain things, but as they come I recognize them and then choose to let them go. Forgiveness is a life long sentence. It is not just a once off event. Things will remind you of those painful moments and that is when you choose again to forgive and let it go. When we had this painful relational break down, I didn't feel forgiving. I knew I had to do it though and so even though I didn't feel like it I made a choice and I spoke it out. I did this many times over the weeks following the incident and eventually I realized that I didn't harbor any resentment toward anyone. When I think of the incident now I still feel a little sadness but I don't feel unforgiveness.
These are simple things that can help you to heal - they are not the only things - you may need to talk to a professional or take up a physical outlet for your feelings like kick-boxing - whatever it is that works for you. Look for things that inspire you and give you direction in your life - through all we have been through I discovered my passion - writing. I am not sure I would ever have discovered it without the trials and journey I have been through - out of every bleak thing good has a way of triumphing - if you let it!