“Is Your Grief Pushing People Away?”
Grief is ever-changing and with us for great lengths of time availing it to cause damage to ourselves and our relationships. It shows up in different ways throughout the ongoing healing process. It can be an enemy robbing us of precious life and at the same time be our friend keeping us close to the ones we’ve lost. Guilt created in grief can fool us into believing that by letting go of our grief we are abandoning our loved ones. Then again, there are times, it is only in the pain and suffering that we feel connected to the ones we’ve lost, and we chose to remain there. Grief can lay dormant in the safety of our mind’s defense mechanism and just when we think we are healed, it rears its painful head. It can be so overbearing at times that projecting pain into anger is our only choice. Grief has opportunities to cause conflict with others in our lives pushing people away by putting boundaries around our hearts.
When I was writing about losing my mother and father many years after their automobile accident, I felt a reconnection to my grief. Although emotionally painful, it allowed me to experience emotions that time had softened. My grief allowed me to feel the love and tenderness I had not felt in years. It brought me back to their smells, their touches, their voices. I allowed my grief, I let myself hurt and I let myself act out. I also pushed away a best friend when losing my temper. It was hard for her to understand how my grief could affect me fifteen years later and she needed space from me. Although very saddened, I understood. Like many, she has not experienced timeless grief or how grief waxes and wanes within. She has not experienced how triggers can make fifteen years feel like fifteen minutes.
As I reflect, I know I have pushed people away consciously and subconsciously with my grief. At times I needed the conflict and the turmoil to distract me from the suffering. Although I was hurting from loss, I still consciously created drama leading to more loss. I am sure there were times I pushed friends away without realizing it. Maybe my conversations were too dark for some or my reality too real. Or maybe I was simply too sad for others to be around. Maybe some worried they would catch my grief if they stood too close.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve, no cut and dry timeline, no rules and regulations you must follow. However, taking a moment to step out of our grief and reflect on how it is affecting our lives can be very helpful to our healing process. If you are subconsciously pushing people away to alleviate the pain, try to bring it to a conscious level. There you can take control and decide if you want to change things or not. Only we understand the depth of our own suffering and we must get through it the best we can. For some, the loss is so great that getting out of bed in the morning is a triumph.
Personally, my grief no longer plays a major role in my life. However, I still do experience anxiety when driving. I understand that and allow it. My brain visualized the impact of cars smashing for years, an automobile was the weapon that took my mother and father’s lives so I give myself a break and keep driving like an old lady in the right lane where I feel safe.
What about you? Can you step back from your grief and look at how it is affecting your life? Are you okay with it? Can you forgive others who do not understand your grief? For those whose insensitivities are unforgivable for you, can you reflect on your role in the breakup? Can you see how your grief consciously and subconsciously, has played a role in your life? There are no right or wrong answers, however clarity is vital to our healing process.
Author of Dear Martha, WTF
Tricia LaVoice’s life turned upside-down when her parents were tragically killed in an automobile accident. Her close relationships with her mother and father made everyday life afterwards a challenge.
Happily married and with a beautiful baby girl, Tricia had no time to fall apart. Over the years as her family grew, Tricia met two strong, dynamic women, both survivors of their own life challenges, whose wonderful friendships and unconditional maternal love and strength guide her to trust in life.
But tragedy strikes Tricia’s family again, shaking her faith in life once more. It was during this time of suffering and loneliness that she found an unexpected respite in nature, in the form of a beautiful pine tree Tricia named Martha. This rare bond inspires Tricia who literally talks to Martha daily as she heals the hurt in her heart. Tricia learns to listen to her inner voice, and heals herself by finding her source of courage and strength is within her.