I am writing this piece because today is my Mother’s birthday. My Mother suffered from grief throughout her life. She did not possess the ability to heal from it. It was like an addiction. From a negative state of mind, she lived her life, and it affected our family. Since I was at an age where I could understand, my sister too young and my brothers out of the house, my Mother relived her childhood and brought her grief into my life almost everyday.
I know the cost of grief placed on others, it can feel overwhelming and it can ruin relationships. It is a heavy burden to put on children. My Father would take me aside and say, “Try to understand what someone has gone through”. It was difficult to do, especially at 9 years old. Later in my 20’s he would tell me about when he lost his Mother at the age of 15. He could have told me when I was younger, but I think he could see I was overwhelmed by my Mother’s behavior. He did not mention it.
One thing I will never forget was the plea from my Father to feel what others feel, to understand what someone has gone through. It is something that shaped my life. At that time around 9 years old, I wanted to find out more about our family’s ethnicity and also why my Mother was the way she was. I delved into her and my Dad’s family history, and genealogy. It was interesting and heartbreaking.
As I grew older, I was still angry at my Mother, and disappointed she did not have the ability to fix her issues before raising children. Still, my Father’s words would guide me to find more answers. After I completed my psychology degree, I had a better idea about what happens to people who suffer trauma and do not know they can recover. It would also take my own experience of trauma, losing my parents and my son within a short amount of time.
The only way to work towards recovering, is to bring it out to the forefront to look at it and transform it. I never thought this might be easy, although I always believed this was the way to heal. Some may say, “Why don’t people just get over it, we don’t want to hear about grief it is too depressing”. It is depressing and it is persistent even when you think you are healing, it finds its way back into your mind and body. Yes, grief can be felt in the body. It is visceral. Grief is the other side of Love.
Grief takes away the pleasure of things that used to bring Joy. I was thinking about how each loss of a loved one, takes a little bit out of you. With each loss there is a large hole needing to be filled. Within the large hole, joy is missing.
There are little pieces of happiness which are part of almost every situation where joy can be found. It is a discovery of a baby bird, very sweet to look at and experience. There is Joy. It is the hope and excitement that something wonderful is going to happen, like a child at Christmas. There is Joy. It is watching someone else experience happiness, like a child and a puppy playing in snow for the first time, there is Joy. It is the look on a new grandparent’s face, there is Joy.
When grief replaces Joy, the sun is less bright, and experiences are dulled. Grief can make you feel you are the only one suffering, thank God for those I met who when I was at the bottom of despair, who told me their story of losing their child. Sharing grief makes it a little easier and creates a bond. Grief is ugly crying, grasping to find your breath and sanity at the same time. It is also about realizing how beautiful grief is, that you can be filled with love, and grief at the same time.
I understand what my Mother went through, I understand she had trauma in her childhood, and I understand how difficult it is to recover from it. However, her trauma, the trauma of an emotionally abusive Mother, and my own trauma losing three people in my family including my own child, has not stopped me on my path to recovery. I realize we cannot expect others to do what we do, we all have different personalities and coping skills. Yet, at some point, I am responsible for myself, I have been given coping skills that are individual to me. I have a responsibility to look at my grief, understand it and heal.
I no longer wish my Mother would have loved me enough to spare me her trauma like my Father did. I no longer wish she would have suddenly had a change of heart about me before she died. I no longer wish she had been someone else. I love my Mother for who she was, I love her for the person she was, no matter the trauma, no matter the damage. It makes no sense to carry those feelings in the presence or in the future.
As I make my journey through my own healing, I am also healing for my clients. I want to show this can be done. I want them to heal and find Joy and Happiness in their lives. I am healing for my youngest son, to show anything can be resolved, any dis-harmony can be made peaceful, Creator can and does participate in our lives if we allow it. I am healing for my partner, I need to be a whole person, to give her a life of happiness. She knows the pains of grief as she has lost family members as well. I am forever grateful for her listening to me in grief and in happiness. For better or worse. As long as you love and care for those around you, reach in, heal your grief, and give them the best you, You Have. Its proven, they will do the same and pass it forward.
Happy Birthday Mother 8-21-1928 to 3-31-2017