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Looking into the Grief ‘Hole’
The ‘Hole’ of Grief #2
Recently I published a blog ‘A New Year……….Gulp’
In that blog where I proposed the concept of ’embracing the hole’ as opposed to the concept of letting go, and the potential guilt that goes with letting go. I also suggested that your loved one, who is no longer physically present, would want you to live your life the best you can, while holding on to the memory.
But what is the hole? The hole of grief? We all know what a hole is. Imagine a really deep one; one where you peer in and cannot see the bottom, just darkness. In fact you throw a stone in and wait for the ‘hitting the bottom’ sound, and it just does not happen. “Wow” you think to yourself “that is really deep, I would hate to fall in! I will just take a couple of steps back to be safe.” Or maybe like the picture above, it is a dark cave.
In a similar way, I would propose that grief, is a hole that has opened up in front of you, and you are actually dangling precariously at the top, doing all you can to stop falling in. The world, and the ‘normal’ before the hole, is so much different than it is now. The hole is the only thing you can see now. And it is getting harder to hold on. Your whole body is shaking.
Maybe letting go is easier; in fact it is only a matter of time before you fall in; hanging on is so tiring. It may be easier if you knew what was waiting for you when you go there. I invite you to explore this with me. This may be helpful, but be aware we all grief in very individual and unique ways.
I would propose the ‘hole’ is made up of two primary components. First of all there is the, for the lack of a better word, dark stuff. These may include feelings of intense sadness; loneliness, particularly at night; loss of physical intimacy; the isolation from long lost friends; no one to talk to or to understand you; the loss of relationship; maybe things that were left unsaid; or unfulfilled plans and dreams; and other things, private and personal.
The other component of the hole is the light stuff. One of the big things here is memories, which is why the word is said so many times in funerals and memorials. It could be that every dark thing also has a memory of light. If we look at the dark list above; apply the opposite.
A memory where there was riotess laughter, that special night where you walked along the beach, hand in hand, had a wonderful dinner, and then a magical intimate evening together. Think of the special friends; maybe invite one of them around (they may also be on their own), and share the memories together. Think of the unfulfilled dreams, and see what it can look like now (watch the Pixar movie ‘Up’ which demonstrates this so well). If you could have these moments again, I am sure you would.
So I wonder where giving a name to the elements of the hole, darkness and light, may take some of the ‘danger’ out of it? Grief is not an optional extra, something to embrace when you have time. It is a compulsion, forcing you face the loss. I am proposing this compulsion is a ‘hole’ where both components, darkness and light, work together to bring about healing, incorporating the loss into your human experience.
Notice I have not said anything about ‘letting go’ in the darkness and light. The ‘hole’ is an invitation to explore the scary parts in the darkness, but to then balance this with the memories in the light. In fact if you can find someone, a trusted friend, to walk the journey with you, the dark elements may eventually not be as dark, and will be lost in the memories of light.
I would also propose your loved one will be there with you. Not in a physical way; those days are gone forever, but in other ways. They will always be there because you have loved, and you cannot, and probably should not, try to turn this off. Love is too powerful to do that.
This commentary in this blog is intended to be general in nature. It is just some observations from one fellow traveller in life to another. If anything in this blog raises issues for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or consult with a trusted medical professional.