Today I went for an early morning walk with my little dog, Pi. We overtook a neighbor who was walking her dog. I am staying with my daughter at her home on the East Coast right now, so I only know this neighbor in passing. As we caught up to her, she turned and began to talk.
“I’ve got no energy. I’m depressed. Ever since my mother died (three months ago), I’m not myself. I can’t get myself going.” She looked the distress she was describing, and my heart went out to her.
I identified myself as a psychotherapist who had just recently closed down my physical office. She was delighted to hear this and talked even more about her plight.
Having experienced the death of my sister and husband in the past 10 years (both of them died in our home), I know grief very personally. I know it takes time to go through. I know you cannot rush it. I know it robs you of your ability to move ahead, make decisions, or trust life to make sense the way it did before.
Especially as I have been traveling, I have discovered that the biggest thing people do not seem to understand about grief is that it cannot be rushed! People question themselves, “Why haven’t I been able to get over this yet?” or “What’s the matter with me that I’m not my usual self?”
Emotions cannot tell time! They stay with us as long as they are needed. And we need to go through the emotions, in order to get “beyond” them. Emotions are free to move on when we have finished our learning from them.
Today, I found myself saying to the neighbor: “You know, we’re usually focused on what we’re doing in our lives, day to day. But when grief strikes, we’re suddenly dealing with emotions, rather than activities or things. We’re not prepared for those emotions. We haven’t learned how to deal with them, or make room for them in our lives. We have to deal with emotions differently than everyday life—we have to take time to feel and experience them.” Just this statement seemed a comfort to her.
She told me she constantly felt like crying. Yet, she had not allowed herself to cry. As we talked, she shared with me that her mother had a favorite song. Her mother often called her on the phone when the song was playing, telling her to “listen” as she held the phone up to her player.
“I know if I listen to that song, I’ll cry,” she said.
“You need to cry,” I assured her. By the time we parted company, she had a plan for listening to this song when the other people living in her house went off to their jobs later in the day. She was looking forward to a good cry.
Such simple things about emotions we have never learned!
Your mother dies and you feel sad. You can no longer have the life you have been used to having—the one with your mother in it. Whether your mother has been around for 20 years, or 40, or even 80, your life is now different. But you are not prepared for needing time, and room, to accommodate to this big change. The emotions you are experiencing are doing their best to slow you down, to help you go in as much balance as possible through these unwelcome curves in the road of your life. What we need to do, simply, is to work with them and allow them to help us. When we experience them, and let them cry or rage themselves through us, we can let them go and move on in our life.
Emotions are simple
We simply need to know that when emotions appear, there is something for us to learn, change or notice. Emotions do not quit. They will stick around until we understand and get their message.
Get your free 30-minute personalized phone call with me today, to determine the areas of emotion most important for you to address.