The Many Layers of Emotional Pain Derived From Loss

It has been longer then I intended to write about “emotional pain” derived from a loss. I suffered another soul wrenching blow; my daddy passed away on July 22, 2014 at 89 years old.  He was the best daddy ever and a truly amazing husband to my mom of 64 years.  While it was expected and our family has felt blessed to have had such a long loving life together this loss still cuts deep into ones heart. 

Loss and Immediate Change - “Emotional Pain” is debilitating and can take years or, for some, a lifetime to accept, move through and evolve.  It envelops all of us at some point in our life whether it is caused by losing a loved one to death, divorce, betrayal or indifference.  It also can hit us during times of self esteem crises such as a loss of a job, a career path or one’s planned life purpose.  Loss and its resulting emotional pain brings with it immediate change, a finality that cannot be altered.  It is at that point one is faced with self destruction or the beginning stages of rebirth. 

Unconditional Love - Lao Tzu’s quote below illustrates how I felt about my soul mate husband and my great daddy both of whom I have lost in the last year and a half. “To love someone deeply gives you strength.  Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage."  These great men in my life were my male sources of “unconditional love.” Losing them has turned my mind, body and soul’s core into quick sand.  Yet, with each day, I get stronger, wiser and am filled with new forms of love.  The quick sand is turning into stone and establishing a new foundation for creating a life worth living. Today’s blog will talk about my painful emotional journey and in future blogs I wall share methodologies to come out of the dark and enable rebirth. 

Losing a Loved One - I always thought losing a loved one would be unimaginable and it is.  What I did not quite expect is how raw and unnerving my loss has been to my deep inner soul.  I have felt so inferior; my “strength and courage” sources are gone.  In many ways, the grief process is like peeling away layers of an onion of which the onion has a million plus layers. 

Denial - In the beginning of my losses denial took over. Thank goodness for denial, I know I could not have lived through the first year if not for it.  Over this past 1 ½ years besides losing my lover/soul mate (which again was unimaginable), I had financial strain (immediate business expenses/previous commitments, medical expenses, and loss of income), inner family strife that resulted in part of the family disowning the other part, the perceived need to try to keep our business going and proceeding failure to do so, a separation of my daughters 16 year marriage with impending divorce and now need to co-parent my two wonderful grandchildren.  In each of these emotional pain events, I have embraced denial as a survival coping mechanism.  While denial is a brilliant way to get through the unplanned emotional pain in one’s life; if you want to live again you have to “let it go” and face the reality of the life altering situation(s). 

Guilt - After my husband’s death, I had such guilt that I could not save him. I went over and over in my mind the “what if’s.” I was completely engulfed in this mind boggling state.  I was the matriarch of our family and always tried to fix any hurtful or financial situations. I would save our combined family at all costs. Now, I could not fix his death and its aftermath (emotional, financial and family). Furthermore, I participated in it and I was guilty.  How could I have been so blind, so stupid, so vulnerable, so unable to fix anything, so unable to cope?  My guilt was endless and cut deeply into my self esteem, self worth and self love.   

Pain, Fear and Loneliness - Gosh-oh-moody, when denial starts wearing off the pain, fear and loneliness cut in and make it darn difficult to get through the days and nights. Breathing was such a challenge, it still is at times. What I did not quite expect is just how many layers of denial there are. Just when you think denial is over and you tackle controlling the pain, fear and loneliness as best you can; then another layer of denial falls off and wham you are hit with a huge new dose of pain, fear and loneliness. And like when cutting a real onion the tears flow freely; they flow in the loss, they flow in the fear, they flow in the loneliness and they even flow when you remember true wonderful endearing loving thoughts. I think for many widows and widowers there is also the loss of financial security and this reality cultivates fear.  For me, becoming a widow at 52 emphasized the number of years I would probably live alone – how scary is that.  All are another blow to one’s self esteem, self worth and self love. 

Anger – I never wanted to be angry at my husband; I know that he did the best he could.  I also know that I did the best I could right back.  However, I was plenty pissed off that I was put in this situation.  All that we planned in our life together was gone, growing old together, our joint children, enjoying the existing and upcoming grandchildren, our joint career path, our ding dang huge house that I could not afford anymore, our retirement plans, our true love, our joint family commitments; it was all gone in an instant.  Then there was the betrayal of a few family members, the inability to run our joint business alone, those people taking advantage of a woman who needs to sell her stuff to survive.  I felt so compromised and violated.  It seemed to go on and on and it really pissed me off.  Anger blinds a person and the more anger you hold in, the more it destroys the true essence of the person you are and really bad things just keep coming your way.  Anger is a vicious circle and if you cannot let it go it will destroy you. 

Depression – Oh boy, this one emotional pain can take the best of us out of this world.  Much love is sent to the late, great Robin Williams and his family.  For many folks this is a daily battle and I have nothing but complete compassion to those who fight against their demons.  I have been fighting my own demons on this grief journey.  My life and soul was so entwined with my husband’s that I did not know who I was anymore or what worth I could possibly offer to myself or anyone else.  For me, the hardest part is finding a new way; a way to let go, a way to start anew, a way to live life to its fullest, a way to love unconditionally again.

Acceptance, Transformation and LOVE - The life altering stages of grief bring on so many versions of emotional pain it is devastating.  Each of us experiences these pains differently and each of us has to learn how to accept our losses individually. As for me, I have been blessed with unconditional love of family and friends and I have found comfort in those who have shared their life experiences on how to first cope, then embrace and finally to become transformed due to ones losses.  I like the idea, when someone helps you that you pay it forward.  It is my intention, in future blogs, to share the many methodologies to overcome and embrace emotional pain and to enable transformation and rebirth.  With every loss there is an opportunity for self acceptance, growth, transformation and peace; by embracing love, grace, hope and wisdom and therefore learning one’s own true inner strength. 

Wholeheartedly, Jamie Hagen, Partner, Alpenl Feel the Relief