I seem to be drawn to anything that relates to grief. I was watching a movie about a man and his son, who wife/mother had died. They both lost the same person, they both were in immense pain. Yet, they grieved their losses so differently.
The story goes that one day the father snapped, and packed up everything on some advise he'd been offered by a well meaning friend. So they packed up and moved to another state, bought a new home, got new jobs, made new friends ... The son got a new school, and did his best to "fit in" and the father also got a new job and did his best to "fit in" but yet what neither realized was they had packed up their pain and it moved right alongside of them.
What amazed me the most, is how often I see people do this when a significant family member dies. They are told they need a fresh start, so they begin to seek it out, and many times they move away from all that was once familiar - They soon discover and many don't even realize that moving only added to their loss ... The house, where all those sweet memories resided is now occupied by another family.
The frienships they spent years building have moved on with their lives, and the griever is even more depressed but cannot figure out why ...
As this movie played out, the father sank further into his sadness and the darkness of depression was now gripping him within every aspect of his life. The sleepless nights followed him like a ghostly haunting each night, his loss of appetite soon followed, and his inability to concentrate added to his grief. He lost interest in his new job, he stopped attending his son's track meets, and would often find himself sitting outside in his new backyard crying uncontrollably. Just looking upwards, desperate for a sign ... either from his beloved wife, or maybe even God.
Now the saddest part of this movie is where the father was advised by his friend and boss to seek professional help. The father is reluctant, but agrees to give it a try. Now, I know this is Hollywood's version, but this movie was also based on a true story. True to the core as I see this happen so many times to people who's hearts are literally in pieces over the impact of loss.
The scene opens with this father speaking to a licensed therapist. The therapist listens, asked questions that seem impossible for the father/husband to answer. So like any good therapist, he recommends and anti-depressent that will help his sadness, and allow him to concentrate better.
So, this father/husband agrees to give them a try. He fills the prescription, and begins the rituals of taking his meds. One of the co-workers was getting to know him, and she asked him if he would like to attend her at a dinner. He seems to feeling a little bit better and agrees to join her. They share a lot of the same interests, and when he returned home, his son asked, "So, dad ... How did your date go?" The father replied, "It was okay ... and maybe these happy pills are working after all." The father hugs his son, and heads to bed.
The scene reveals the sadness as the father lays there staring at the ceiling with tears in his eyes. He eventually finds the sleep he has been so deperate for and embraces his much needed slumber.
He awakens to the emptiness that his beloved wife is not layng beside him and returns to the therapist for yet another round of what he has been calling "happy pills" - The therapist changes his prescription to a stronger dosage and assured him that sometime you have to go through a series of medication until they find one that really helps. So the father agrees and after about five attempts of changing his meds, gives way to shock therapy. I literally wanted to cry at this point ... I felt my own tears begin to well up as I have witnessed so many people who did not understand what grief recovery came to do for them.
The father's story continues as he endures the effects of shock therapy ... He appeared to look as though he was in some sort of vegetative state of mind. The blank stares, he couldn't work at this point, and his son helplessly watched his father checking out of life. The co-worker he had tried to date now filled with rejection as the father tried to explain to her that he felt as if he was cheating on his wife and could no longer go out with her. She knew she could not compete with a ghost, and stopped contacting him out of repsect for him as well as herself. This I bring up because I have also witnessed many grievers go out and attempt to replace the loss, especially when their spouse dies. You can never replace a loss. Never ...
The final scene begins with the son and the father trying to eat supper together at the table. The son is talking about an upcoming track meet, and the father never acknowledges him. The father is mumbling about his unhappiness and the son finally loses it. "The DIE and get it over with!" - the son smashes his glass of tea against the wall, and screams out, "Just like mom, I had to witness her death, and I felt so helpless dad ... I miss her too but I cannot go through another death. I just want my father back!"
The father begins to cry, and the son leaves the house. The next scene is where the father is inside of the garage and he is unpacking all of his beloved wife's things ... Her shoes, her clothes, jewelry, and paintings she loved to get lost creating ... He cried as he remenisced each precious item. The Goodwill truck arrives and takes the boxes of memories to allow someone else to enjoy. The father checks his watch and races to attend his son's final track meet of the school year.
Hollywood had a happy ending as the father and son embraced and went forward together in a new normal.
The reality of what this film showed me was the lack of saying goodbye to the pain, and how to do that. You see, this is what grief recovery does. It simply allows your grief to teach you how to say goodbye to the pain of loss. Grief is merely the aftermath of things we had wished we'd done differently, done better, or had more of ... We never stop the love we hold for those we had to say goodbye to physically ... that what a funeral service allows us to do.
What comes after the funeral is where recovery needs to come in to play. Your heart iis broken, not you brain. I am not a licensed therapist, and I am certain in many cases medication can work, but it's temprorary. When your prescription runs out, then what?? Have we truly dealt with the pain that the medication wasn't able to heal? The answer in many cases is, no.
I have literally been told by greiving people who decided to do the action based work with The Grief Recovery Method who have sworn they had been in therapy for years, taken all kinds of meidcation, but NOTHING helped them like this program. My heart smiles every time I hear someone say that.
Grief is spiritual work as well ... It needs your heart to open up. That takes a lot of courage to do that. How do I know? Because I've done it and I continue to do it. You see, my heart was full of loss, but I didn't know what to do with it. So I just kept stuffing it. I tried those "happy pills" too. I felt like a zombie to be honest, but that's my own experience. I tried staying busy, using humor to mask my pain, and I tried giving it time ... Time healed nothing for me. I wasn't able to take comfort when someone would tell me that God only takes the best ... They left me feeling like saying, "Why doesn't he take me? Am I not good enough?" Sounds far fetched, but many have also stated this very thought.
I know there is purpose in the pain for me ... My purpose is to be a part of the thousands who, like me, are out there in this hurting world trying to help them heal. It's helpless to hear, "I think I need to see a therapist to get on some medication ..." So we wait patiently without trying to convince or sell them. We pray for them and we wish them the best. We understand as Grief Recovery Specialist that people just don't understand what recovery in grief is all about. It's uncomfortable to embrace something new, so grievers reach out to what they know best.
If you see yourself in the battle of trying to simply get a grip on all the why's, when's, what if's and your "happy pills" don't seem to heal the core issues, please ask your doctor about Grief Recovery Method and groups. Only you know when you're truly ready to embrace the change of loss. Only you will know when you're ready to say goodbye to the fear of change.
The only thing required is your readiness to take some action steps. Reach out when you're ready. I promise you nothing feels better than recovery to your life, happiness and well being.
From my heart, to yours ... Kim