Today I have a topic that I have witnessed transpire over the last couple of days. Lori has officially taken a back seat in the day-to-day operations of the sites in an effort to get away from the things that remind her of her loss. This purge of one grief venue to enhance the other areas of her life made me curious. How many other people have done things like this? Does it have any tangible effect? Do people eventually go back?
These are all things that have popped into my head over the past 24 hours. Ultimately I just want my friend, and all of my new friends, to be happy and healthy people. But I am worried that suppressing conversation, especially conversant held in a positive, constructive environment, can be damaging in the long run.
I wonder what professionals think on this subject. Lets copy and paste some results. The first search I am going to do is “purging while grieving.”
The first thing that popped up was from a veterinary website. While we are grieving the loss of people, we know the feeling is somewhat similar. The article offered suggestions of how to recover from a grief purge. Here is the article (http://veterinarywisdom.com/griefarticle.htm):
5 Ways to ‘Bounce Back’ from Grief
Laurel Lagoni, M.S.
Grieving is a normal and necessary healing process. When you’ve experienced loss, your body naturally attempts to ‘purge’ toxins that have accumulated within from the fear, anxiety, and sadness you’ve been feeling. This is why you feel a need to cry and talk about your loved one over and over. You literally need to ‘get it out of your system.’
And as you probably know, a ‘grief purge’ can feel overwhelming. In the depths of grief, while you’re sobbing, ranting, and wailing, you may feel a little bit ‘crazy.’ You might even worry that you may not ‘come back’ to our sane, stable self. Yet, it’s important to allow yourself to grieve this deeply and fully. Think of it as the process of becoming whole again.
Here are 5 ideas for ‘bringing yourself back’ after a healing ‘grief purge.’
Set an alarm clock or timer for 20 minutes, then lose yourself in grief. When the alarm rings, stretch, move around, drink water, and gently bring yourself back to the present. Check in with your body. You probably feel drained and tired, but are you also more relaxed and calmer, feeling more satisfied?
Schedule a visit with an understanding support person — a friend or family member — to immediately follow a ‘grief purge’ session. Tell this person you’re in the midst of grief and want to look for some comforting time with a friend. Tell them you don’t want them to cheer you up, help you problem-solve, give you advice or “fix” anything for you. You simply want them to listen to your feelings and memories. Be respectful of your support system and don’t exhaust them in the process! Talk about your loss for about 30 minutes and then turn your conversation to other topics.
Save time for a 20-30 minute nap. Crying and thinking and talking can be exhausting. Make time to replenish yourself.
Cue up your favorite music before you immerse yourself in grief, then listen to these songs as you coax yourself back to day-to-day life. Music is a powerful way to alter a mood. Don’t use it to avoid your grief, but to soothe yourself after grieving.
Walk. There is endless research confirming the restorative power of walking. After a good cry, take yourself to a park or simply walk around your neighborhood. If you live in the city, go to a gym and walk around the track. While you walk, picture you and your loved one walking together. Love never leaves you, it simply changes form.
The next thing I have found seems like it describes what some of us who need to purge might be going through (it actually notes it). This was taken from a .org website and I really encourage you all to look at the entire seven steps because they seem really beneficial:
Symptoms of Incomplete Grief
If adults or kids lack good-grief requisites, they may get stuck in mental, emotional, and/or spiritual levels of mourning. Such people often display observable behavioral symptoms. The more symptoms an adult or child has, the more likely s/he isn’t done mourning important losses from childhood or later.
Use this symptom-summary as a checklist and discussion-starter…
Seeming “forever” sad, angry, or depressed, or often feeling numb or “nothing”
Symptoms of repressed anger
Minimizings and/or denials
Chronic weariness, depression, or apathy.
One or more addictions (toxic compulsions)
(Some) chronic pain or illnesses
Obesity and/or some eating disorder
Repeated anniversary “depressions.”
(Some) digestive and/or bowel problems
Enshrining or purging mementos of lost things, and…
Exaggerated emotional reactions to the losses or traumas of other people.
Incomplete grievers may have one, several, or all of these symptoms. They may be episodic or chronic. Each and all of these behaviors are symptoms of the root problems: psychological wounds, wounds + ignorance of grieving basics (Lesson 3) + personal unawareness + lack of inner and/or outer permissions to mourn.
Here’s brief detail on each of the symptoms above:
1) Seeming “forever” sad, angry, or depressed, or often feeling numb or “nothing” – in general, or about a loss (broken bond). People who always seem very intellectual, analytic, and/or unemotional (“flat”) may be wounded grievers – or they may be unable to bond.
2) Repressed anger. Signs include repeated:
cynicism / pessimism
insomnia or excessive sleep
waking up tired
sadistic or sarcastic humor
overcontrolled monotone voice
clenched jaws (“TMJ”) and/or teeth grinding
muscle spasms, tics, or twitches
Some of these may have medical causes. Our mind-body connection is a relevant mystery (i.e. which causes what) here.
3) Minimizings and/or denials. Consistently downplaying…
a loss itself (“Oh ______ wasn’t that important to me”) and/or…
feelings about the loss and it’s impacts (“No, I’m not sad – just tired is all.”)
The ultimate denial is of one’s own denial. Denial (reality distortion) is a common symptom of false-self dominance.
4) Chronic weariness, depression, or apathy. It takes a lot of personal energy to repress frightening emotions and awarenesses. Recovery pioneer John Bradshaw likens this to trying to swim while holding a big beach ball under water. Therapist Virginia Satir suggested it’s like constantly holding a swinging kitchen door closed against a pack of starving dogs …
5) Addictions to one or more of these:
activities – e.g. work; hobbies or sports; worship; committees; socializing, TV, or personal computers; fitness and health; sex; cleaning and organizing; shopping or gambling; hoarding; reading or “endless” education;
substances – e.g. nicotine, caffeine, fats and/or sugars, ethyl alcohol or other drugs or medications;
“causes” – e.g. save the world’s environment, hungry, homeless, repressed;…
excitement (mood states) – e.g. rage, conflicts, risks, religious ecstasy, or sexual arousal; and/or addiction to…
“toxic” relationships (codependence) that consistently promote significant shame, guilts, fears, anger, hurt, frustration, anxiety, and/or frustration.
True addicts use one or more of these to temporarily numb or distract from (medicate) relentless inner pain. They (their well-meaning false self) will deny, minimize, or rationalize their toxic compulsions until hitting true bottom and committing to personal addiction recovery. Addiction “sobriety” is a requisite for psychological-wound reduction. Some addicts are never able to gain or keep sobriety because of their unawareness + psychological wounds + a low-nurturance environment.
All addictions are a clear symptom of major family dysfunction, not just a personal problem. Their members often have trouble grieving well.
More common symptoms of incomplete or blocked mourning…
6) Repeated avoidances. These can be verbal, mental, and/or physical. If the loss (or something associated or similar) comes under discussion, a blocked mourner will often become silent or irritable, tune out, try to change the subject, “get real tired,” and/or leave. They may also reflexively shun certain …
topics that remind them of what they’ve lost; and/or…
places (like former dwellings, neighborhoods, cemeteries, churches, …); and/or…
people (who remind the loser of what’s gone, and/or how it got gone); and/or…
activities or rituals (holidays, vacations, births, deaths, graduations,…); and/or…
mementos (photo albums, movies, music, old letters, holiday ornaments, special clothing,…) that remind them of their loss/es.
Blocked mourners will often protectively deny, rationalize (intellectually explain without feelings) or minimize such avoidances. Typical single-parent families and stepfamilies abound with such painful reminders. Are there any such mementos in your life now? Your kids’ lives?
7) (Some) chronic pain or illness – specially ones without clear biological cause. A growing number of professional healers feel that recurrent asthma, migraine or other headaches, digestive or colon problems, back pain, shoulder and neck stiffness or soreness, breathing or swallowing troubles, panic attacks, nightmares, allergies, etc. are bodily signals that vital emotions are being repressed. Unconsciously-fearful mourners will often scoff at this or get angry (i.e. scared) if it’s proposed.
8) Obesity and (some) eating disorders. Obesity is defined by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) as weighing 30% more than appropriate weight for a person’s body type per credible charts like this. Morbid obesity is weighing 50% or 100 lbs more than appropriate body weight.
Morbid implies this condition can be lethal. It’s been said of overweight people that “every fat cell is an unshed tear.” Adults or kids can numb the pain of unresolved loss (and other things) by compulsive overeating – specially of “comfort foods” – fats, sugars, and some carbohydrates. Others are metabolically unbalanced. Griefwork can be far more helpful for the former than endless dieting/regaining cycles, which can promote shame, guilt, and eventual depression and despair.
Other eating problems like anorexia (compulsive self-starvation) or bulimia (compulsive binge-purge cycles) may signal blocked mourning and deep shame. Obesity may be a symptom of childhood sexual abuse. This shattering personal violation forces the massive losses of innocence, trust, security, and Self respect in a child too young and needy to understand and protect themselves.
More common symptoms of unfinished grief…
9) Repeated anniversary “depressions.” Major apathy, sadness, sluggishness, sickness, sleep disorders, irritability, or feeling gloomy “for no reason” may recur annually around the time a major loss happened. This can appear to be (or be increased by) “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD), where people rationalize recurring depression by missing sunlight “too much.”
10) Some digestive and/or bowel problems. Many different organic factors can cause such problems. Repressed grief may contribute to them by affecting body chemistry in subtle ways. This merits a doctor’s opinion, tho many medical professionals may not be aware of the bodily effects of “complicated grief.”
11) Enshrining or purging mementos. People who obsessively display, revere, discuss, or protect, special reminders long after an agonizing ending can be blocked mourners. Such mementos can include foods, music, clothes, pictures, rituals, furniture, letters, jewelry, perfume, gardens, letters, and many more. Revering or reacting to such reminders to perpetual excess is the key symptom here.
The opposite may also signal blocked grief. People who compulsively throw away every reminder of the lost person or thing can be avoiding the intolerable pain of admitting and accepting the precious broken bond. They may or may not be aware they’re doing this.
12) Often having exaggerated emotional reactions to the losses or traumas of strangers, acquaintances, animals, or fictional characters. Such reactions include uncontrollable sobbing, lasting depression, intense rages, insomnia, obsessions, bodily reactions, and over-identifications (“becoming” the hurt one).
Wow, I want to keep going to see if I can get more resources but this spoonful seems to have answered a lot of our questions. We now know “Purging,” is an example of incomplete grief thanks to the last article we read. But where do we go from here? How do we help people realize what they are doing?
Is the purging of a group, or a memento, or any other item/article, a sign of an unwillingness to accept the loss of said person?
Love you all RHV fam.