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Grief and the Healing Process

A long time ago Sigmund Freud talked about the “Grief Work”. He stated that the grieving process is something that requires human participation and the desire to heal. Since that time a process was created that described steps that you would go through in doing that work. They were supposedly the steps from grief to accepting what happened and being able to live a “normal life”. Another person a decade later found more adjectives that they believed were part of the grieving process and called the original process invalid. The funny part is that those who were supposed to be helping people go from pain to normalcy ended up causing more confusion than help.
Let me explain it to you so that you can bypass all the confusion. There many paths to go from grief to acceptance. I believe there is one path that is the healthiest and easiest to follow. The one important thing to know before I show you the path is that you face grief at least once a day and that grief is caused by injury. Your brain has a grieving process that you have followed thousands of times. You have grief every time you drive your car to work and hit traffic, every time you have an argument, every time you think about someone you owe or need to speak to, but have not. Grief happens when someone dies, gets physically injured, or emotionally injured. Grief is a daily part of all of our lives, and there is a definite process for processing that data in your brain. You are doing it correctly or incorrectly and either coming to properly aware of the facts of your grief or you are one of the millions of people who never reach normalcy on any grief issue. The proper healing program for grief is:


Many doctors will tell you that grief is different when you have trauma or shock. I disagree. Trauma and shock are symptoms of your brain being overloaded by the data. The depth of your denial directly corresponds with your level of shock. Denial is the illogical step of the healing process and it comes immediately after the crying, sobbing, hyperventilation, or personal medical emergency. Once you are physically stable in any measure the denial begins. It is unavoidable and totally natural. There are a few people who remain in the physically unstable position and never reach denial, (death by sorrow, coma by sorrow, catatonic state by sorrow, or continuing conscious sorrow), but for 99% of us, some sense of physical normalcy occurs soon after the grief and we begin to enter denial.
Denial is nothing more than the insertion of incorrect assumptions in the place of facts. Your brain is a fantastic machine at filing. It has the ability to fill in any holes in a picture, and fill in any holes in the facts before putting information in to storage. Unfortunately, it also has the ability to call untrue things facts as a “safety mechanism” against stress. Traumatizing grief is ALWAYS accompanied by the incorporation of untrue thoughts. Your brain is in emergency mode and is trying to protect you from insanity.
If there is one good time to seek professional help it is when you are in denial. Don’t seek magical answers from doctors who can tell you they can heal your grief, or magical medicines to make your pain feel better. Seek someone who will review the events with you and give you an unbiased opinion of the facts. If you don’t agree with them, seek another opinion. If that opinion matches the first opinion, then you can tell that your beliefs of the grief you are suffering are incorrect. If you are stuck in denial you are in the same mental state as an addict and need to “want to be healed”.
Denial is the time for writing. That fantastic brain of yours is working against you in working your way through denial. Unless you document your thoughts on the evidence, in writing, and before you ever see any doctor or psychiatrist, you are not giving yourself a very high chance of success.
There is anger in the denial process. Many times it is directed at someone else and many times it is directed at yourself, but it is not the anger that is part of the grief process. The anger step that comes after denial is a natural step that cannot be avoided. Once you have established the facts in your grief, you are confronted with blame. You have to assign the blame for the grief to someone and not just on the event itself. Anger is not an emotion, but an action. It is an expression of emotion. The healthier you are the quicker you will pass through the anger stage and the less collateral damage occurs while you are in that stage.
You need to understand that anger, while in denial is a never ending cycle. You cannot get past it because your brain will always try to refocus and correct the anger with improper information. In other words, you know that you are wrong in your assessment of blame and the only way to keep from dealing with it is to keep the fire of anger burning so that the facts of your denial cannot surface.
So you have felt the grief, entered into denial, assembled and diagnosed all the facts to get the picture of the event that you are 100% comfortable with and have moved on into assigning blame. If you are still experiencing anger at this point and it has not been replaced with sadness, you know that you are still in denial. Sadness comes when you realize that the event had thousands of uncontrollable variables. You have anger towards yourself or another, but unless you have analyzed the facts and seen all the variables that effected the event, your anger is generated by a blame that is unwarranted. You are assuming that the focus of your anger had control over the situation.
This is where all the psychological theorists and medical science have fallen on their face. They try to have you work through your anger by forgiving the other person or forgiving yourself. Forgiveness without understanding is just another step in denial. Until you realize that events happened through pure chaos and randomness, you are stuck in the place where forgiveness is something that is not deserved, but rather given. In truth forgiveness IS deserved. In truth, events happen as a result of thousands of inputs, thousands of impressions, thousands of choices, and thousands of linked events. No event is singular. No event stands alone.
If someone injured you then that person is dangerous in that they may injure you again under the same circumstances. But to blame them for their actions is foolishness. The proof in this is that our penal code has deterrents, very harsh deterrents for actions that injure others, but those actions still take place daily. If as a society we are imprisoning people to keep the public safe because we know that the action will happen again, that is logical. If we are imprisoning people placate our anger, that is not logical, but rather malicious.
I went through that short discussion on anger and injury to show you that the anger you feel has to be replaced by sadness if you are thinking straight. This sadness will be for everyone that you had anger towards. In some cases the sadness will be only for you if the grief is personal and no one else is involved. This sorrow is the true way to forgive. Feeling pity for those who you initially are angry towards is the sign that you are seeing things logically and know that everyone involved suffered. Whether the suffering was the past that some endured to come to the point of injury or the direct result of the injury during the event causing the grief.
Sadness is different from grief in that grief is the outpouring of emotion without any logic and sorrow is the acceptance that everyone involved suffered (although the suffering may not have happened all at the same time). Sadness is pity for those who are going to continue to suffer from the event, and for those who are injured. You are now filing information correctly.
This is self awareness. If you get the point of this whole article, you will understand that the process of recovering from grief requires that you understand your brain. You are a biological computer. Whether you believe in a god or not does not change this fact. You are running programs in your head. Those programs decide whether you are moving forward with normalcy and the ability to experience joy OR if you are stuck in depression and are not able to live life. If you are stuck in grief, you have improperly filed information. You know that it is not correct and you have decided to live in a lie. You have put bad data into your brain and until you clean it up you will be stuck in your current situation.
Awareness is the magic of the grief recovery process. Awareness happens when you finally realize how your brain works and how the world works. It is the awareness that your feelings are a result of how you process information. Once you have experienced awareness once, the entire grieving process becomes mechanically quicker than before.
I brought up traffic jams and the morning commute because in most cases people go through the process of grief the right way in that circumstance. Let me go through the typical traffic jam grieving process.
You are sorry that you got caught in traffic and have a sense of grief about your current situation.
Denial enters: Why did you take this job? Why did you choose to live where you are living? Why don’t people drive better?
Once you realize that your questions are ridiculous, you turn to anger at yourself for getting into this situation in your life and then simple sadness about the fact that you are stuck in traffic and there is nothing you can do about it.
The sadness is quickly replaced by awareness of the fact that you have many options in life and you can choose to sit in this traffic every day or you can change your life. Once you have awareness you are forced to choose the path anew, or the path of your history. Both are valid choices.
The key to this example is that most people stay in the denial and anger stages of grief when it comes to traffic jams, and the same is true for all other types of grief that enter your life. Be one of the few that actually reaches some level of awareness. Your happiness depends on it.


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