In his book ‘Healing the Shame that Binds you’ John Bradshaw explains how Grief needs to be validated and expressed for it to not become toxic. “It is not the traumas that we suffer in childhood which make us emotionally ill, but the inability to express the trauma”.
Bottling up the grief:
Many clients come to me still grieving for their lost family member even years after their demise. They not only grieve departed souls but also grieve their own loss of innocence, loss of childhood, loss o love or relationships, loss of everything or anything they held dear. This grief is all bottled up inside them and comes pouring out in the session like a raging waterfall. This bottling up happens when they have all the logical and intellectual defences about it and how they have survived inspite of it!
Disassociated ! :
Most times we don’t actually feel our unresolved grief or trauma. Our false self and ego defences keep us from experiencing it! Many clients come to me only talking and talking logically and intellectually on whatever they wish to tell me and whatever they have been telling themselves about their lives. I have to gently remind them that it doesn’t help them or me! Till they don’t internalise and accept the grief or trauma that they had experienced, it cannot be healed. Paradoxically, the very defences which allowed us to survive our childhood trauma have now become barriers to our growth!
“One of the things we know about grief is that it is the only problem in the world that will heal itself with support. The reason people go into delayed grief is that there is nobody there to validate and support them. You cannot grieve alone. Delayed grief is the core of what is called the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome”
Releasing the stored or hidden emotions:
After validation and support one needs to experience the feeling that were not allowed. The feelings involved are anger, remorse, hurt, depression, sadness and loneliness. It must be done in a safe non shaming context. When parents do not allow the child to express these emotions early on – either by shaming her or calling her/him ‘sissy’ or ‘angry’ or parents glorify the intellectualisation of these emotions, then there is a pattern of suppression. Child feels ashamed to express these emotions. Shame based emotions cause a lot of emotional and physical imbalances later on in life. One needs enough time to finish this work and in most dysfunctional families there is never enough time – hence it remains unresolved! Children need to be given time and safe space to express their emotions – however toxic they maybe- rather than shunning, shaming or hiding them.
In a safe therapeutic space (using hypnotherapy, NLP, inner child or regression therapy) when clients work through their emotions and release the grief they find themselves feeling light and almost new like!
Ririi G Trivedi