As a bereaved mom of a beautiful daughter who died by suicide in 2005 at the age of twenty-two, I certainly know pain and suffering. Just like a lot of other people know pain and suffering who have lost someone to suicide, sudden and/or traumatic death. I have done a lot of work to heal from my pain over the years and have had tremendous success to this point, but it’s an ongoing journey.
I have always approached healing with the view that to achieve holistic health, there must be a deeply-entrenched balance of body, mind and spirit. This is something I intellectually understood, but was not fully experiencing, just like many other grievers struggling with loss.
Over the last few years, during the handful of readings I received from other healing practitioners, I was told repeatedly I needed to get grounded. As I had been feeling buoyed by my spiritual work for years and had no idea what getting grounded meant, or how it would happen (if at all), like everything else that challenges me, I pondered and became a little obsessed even, with what it meant to “get grounded”. I was reminded often that I clearly wasn’t experiencing this grounded-ness yet because of the imbalance I continuously experienced in my life either physically, emotionally or mentally. Combined, I suffered chronic illness, stress and anxiety .
In 2014 and after years of avoiding the trauma I endured after my daughter’s suicide, I was diagnosed with PTSD. I immediately shut down my part-time consulting practice in an effort to reduce pressure. Still holding on to my day job working 4 days a week at home, in the fall of 2015, I finally succumbed to the continuing pressures and collapsed. It was obvious it was time to attend to the physical part of my pain I had been avoiding for years.
With no energy to function sufficiently (getting dressed was a chore), I went on disability from my workplace that lasted for over two years. This turned out to be a critical turning point that forced me to reach into the physical part of my pain and specifically, what trauma had done to my mind and body (I will include emotional pain here because of the devastating effects our lingering emotions have on the body) and start aligning the many disjointed parts of my grief.
Through diligent effort on my part and with the help of some excellent therapy, I came to understand exactly what I had been through on all levels of my being after losing my child, including the devastating effects of what happens when you don’t deal with the physical body in grief. While this particular process lasted three years and was challenging on many levels, the efforts I’ve made to heal from as much pain as I can has finally brought me the feeling of being grounded.
Through this latest phase of healing, while I had no idea of the changes taking place within (I was simply responding to whatever I needed to), I realize looking back, that the more in touch I became with my physical pain, including being willing to face at least some of the trauma (that really is terrifying to revisit), the more this helped me feel rock solid with who I am, what I have experienced and where I am going (remaining flexible of course). I can feel both of my feet firmly rooted on the ground and a harmonious melding of body, mind and spirit energy working beautifully in sync in my life. I have found peace accepting that:
1. It doesn’t matter if there are problems and challenges. BODY – That’s life! There will always be something to contend with, but everything always gets resolved. The sky hasn’t fallen yet!
2. I have the power to shape the life I want. MIND – Thoughts are critically important to manifest any heartfelt desire, including how I feel. All things come to every one of us in the exact right moment. Patience!
3. I accept that just because I haven’t reached a place in my life that I’d earlier envisioned, it’s okay. SPIRIT – I trust I will get where I need to be and do what I’m meant to do every single moment of this journey.
The biggest challenge I have faced embracing my physical pain was the stark realization that to achieve holistic healing; someday, if not now, I will have to choose to release ALL of the pain I feel after losing my child. Which leaves me with two really tough questions:
1. What would it mean to let go of my pain (i.e. where would it go)?
2. What would I replace my pain with (a pain that has become so familiar)?
Right now, as I continue to ponder the above, it is enough that I feel the most peaceful I’ve ever felt since my child died. I do not get overly excited by any of life’s challenges, nor do I allow myself to become antagonized or critical of anyone else’s journey (i.e. loved ones on their own path to healing). Getting grounded has helped me gain a new perspective on my future and the path I need to take for my continued healing. I know that there are numerous choices that are mine to make at every turn of this grief journey.
There’s still a long way to go, but by being brave enough to face all parts of me in pain, knowing I can take it nice and easy as I tread the scarier parts of my trauma, doesn’t diminish the gains I have made. I share my experience with the hope it will inspire other grievers to simply be aware that no matter how much you may want to ignore or hide from pain, there is reward in finding the courage to face it.