Monday, May 3, 2010

On grieving

Velvet by »dolfi«

I can't say that I knew much at all about grief until this year, and compared to many, I still don't.

The first

You might remember that I wrote about the experience that Laurence and I had the weekend we got engaged. That was really my first close up experience of death. It was traumatic and graphic, though not personal, as of course we didn't know the man.

Earlier this year, I had my second experience. My 21 year old cousin, full of life and fun, was in London for the first time, a place that I lived for several years. Within 24 hours he was dead, unwittingly elecrocuted crossing train tracks. Such a vibrant, fun person ... someone I remembered most as a child; blonde hair, rough and tough through growing up on a cattle station and so good natured. The type of child that falls over and rather than crying, immediately laughs. Attending that funeral was among the worst experiences of my life. Such obvious unfairness.

On energy

When you work with energy like I do, it is interesting to observe how what happens in your life impacts on your work. After the funeral, I didn't have any new enquiries for about three weeks ... my energy kind of shut down for a bit - I had enough to work with existing clients, but apparently noone new.

Around this time I had a Kinesiology session. The Kinesiologist I saw is intuitive and commented that there may be a third.

And there was.

The third death was my Grandfather. I mentioned him over here. He really had such an enormous impact on my life and my childhood in particular. He was a true adventurer, and a visit to my Grandparents farm inevitably involved go-carts, teepees, canoes, boats, fishing, yabbying, water fights or some form of action. He didn't necessarily deal so well with the ageing thing and the not being able to be the adventurer anymore. His death was not completely unexpected, and in many ways, as he now lived in hospital, it was a blessing that the situation had not persisted for years longer.

This was my intellectual reaction.

My body did not experience it that way.

Philosphical initially, I found that the death impacted on me in ways I hadn't anticipated. Old anxieties, sadness, worries, fears, insecurities, memories, even a little bit of depression, came back up to the surface again. Things I thought I'd dealt with were suddenly back. I felt terrible.

What is going on?

Extreme and unconsciously controlled emotions, like grief, come from the amygdala part of the brain, where emotional associations related to particular events are stored. These are the emotions that can seem to come from nowhere, the ones we don't expect and can't always explain. These are the emotions we're going back to when we find signficant times and events from your past.

'Once emotional memory is lodged in our subconscious amygdala, a stimulus can trigger these emotions and feelings to enter our consciousness, often with the same power and impact of the original event'

Dr Charles Krebs, A Revolutionary Way of Thinking

In my case, feeling the grief, sadness, insecurity and worry I felt with the death of my Grandfather, along with the knowledge that he'd battled depression for the past twenty years, brought back up to the surface countless other times I'd experienced those emotions over the years. I guess the depth of the emotion brought more examples to the surface that usual.

It was like my Grandfather was one of the cornerstones of my life - one I didn't even realise was quite so foundational. Losing him made me all of a sudden feel unsafe, unstable, insecure. And of course, there was also the little girl in me who still knew that she was loved and adored by her Grandfather, and that he could not be replaced by anyone.

Has that ever happened to you?

I've realised this is what happens for many of my clients too, and in many cases it is probably what has brought them to Kinesiology - grief of some kind - whether relationship loss, death, trauma, job change, a major fear, whatever it may be, has suddenly brought all their stuff to the surface. What was previously bearable now needs to be looked at.

Sometimes people say - I can't understand why this is all happening now.

Though I'm not going to suggest it's a good thing or that you'll see it that way, it can be an opportunity to work through some deeper issues and improve the way you view your life and yourself.

Life keeps happening of course, you're never 'sorted'. But once you've actually worked on your stuff, when and if it comes back up to the surface, it usually moves through more quickly and smoothly.

And that's what I found. I allowed myself to feel how I felt, accepted it, reminded myself that I would feel better soon, did some self Kinesiology, had a few Kinesiology sessions ... and things soon felt more stable again. However that was me, dealing with this particular situation, in the best way that I could. There are far more extreme forms of grief and it goes without saying that different situations require a different approach depending on the individual.

Extreme emotions

Feeling extreme emotions is part of life. You don't have to cut off or deny them. Sometimes we make it worse for ourselves, especially if the reason for our emotion is less obvious, or in our eyes 'acceptable', by thinking that we shouldn't feel this way, we shouldn't be in this position. Many of my clients are harsh on themselves in this way.

What you feel is what you feel.

But you don't have to get stuck and continue to go downhill either.


  1. Thats a really lovely entry Kerry... So true and touching, thanks!

  2. I found your post honest and insightfu and seemed to put into prespective grief emotions for me as well.