Grief Under Fire: Get Past ‘Flashpoint’ Issues to Reach Healing

large boulders in stream_brightly colored flowers foreground_set in forest landAnything that gets in the way of healing from grief is a concern, but certain issues are especially critical, complex, explosive, or unpredictable. I describe these subjects as ‘flashpoint’ issues because they hold the power to block your path to healing, to derail your progress.

Everyone’s grief is uniquely his or her own. Each experience is different, just as each person, personality, past, circumstance, and everything about an individual is unique.

Sometimes, certain issue(s) override everything else as you face your loss—and these issues can become the rocks that block your progression toward healing. Different circumstances will force particular issues to the forefront, issues that are somehow attached to, or emerge from your loss. Some examples are isolation; fear; anger; guilt;  ‘Why?’ questions; victor/ victim; and “Do I really want to get well?”

In facing my own loss, flashpoint issues took me by surprise, either because they were so contrary to my own personality—or because I was shocked that they showed up as part of my grief.

Eventually, I had to decide whether to keep allowing these things to seize control and drive my behavior, or face and work through them so I could keep moving forward. Perhaps you have faced surprises, or undesired responses in yourself. As I understood more about grief, I learned to make practical decisions and take positive action.

You may be as surprised as I was to feel an overwhelming sense of isolation after my loss. I suppose if you consider all of the changes a loved one’s death or another major loss brings to your life, it’s reasonable to expect you’d feel isolated.

  • Have you felt disconnected from nearly everything and everyone?
  • Do you think no one really understands how you feel?
  • Have you felt as though you don’t belong anywhere?

Isolation? It’s not a place anyone wants to settle. If you stay there, you won’t heal.

Being a victim is another ‘flashpoint’ issue. When a serious loss occurs, sometimes you are so devastated that you accept the victim role, at least at first. For a time, you are powerless. If you’re unable to make decisions, or take action, then someone else has to take over those roles for you. You can’t be held responsible. A victim is helpless.

Certain situations are so overwhelming that you may be immobilized initially. This is understandable. However, at some point, to reach healing everyone must make a decision to take the difficult but necessary steps. One griever shared with me later in her grieving journey that she had been a victim—because she mistakenly thought that by being a victim, she could somehow hold on to her husband who had died. She finally realized that this attitude only prolonged her pain.

Tied closely to the victim/victor role is the question, ‘Do I really want to get well?’ Realize that this is not a question anyone will consider at the beginning of their grief journey. However, it’s an important question—and the answer determines your future.

A turning point normally comes for everyone in their grief journey. You have to decide whether to stay where you are—or do whatever it takes to get better—because you truly want to start living again. You’ll reach a point where you’re tired of being in pain, and you just want to enjoy life again. Yes, you really do want to get well! That decision is an important step in the rest of your journey.

Think about your own situation and where you are in the grieving process. Ask yourself if something is standing in your way and blocking your path. If so, decide that healing from grief is your priority—and vow to do whatever is necessary to reclaim your life and your future.

© 2012 Judy Brizendine

 

About Judy

"Out of your deepest pain comes your greatest gift." Judy writes about grief and loss in a realistic, practical way - to help, inspire, encourage, and educate any who face loss in their lives. A fellow-traveler's approach to grief ...

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2 Responses to “Grief Under Fire: Get Past ‘Flashpoint’ Issues to Reach Healing”

  1. Kirk Axelson says:

    Great article, getting clear does help. Its an interesting journey nearing with a loss of my wife, and many others in my life. I would have never thought it can be so difficult, its nice to know on the other end there is a healing happening.

    • admin says:

      Thanks so much for stopping by to read my article, Kirk, and for taking the time to comment. Going through grief is a learning journey for sure, and one I think few of us are prepared for. I certainly wasn’t–and I never would have expected it to be so difficult either. We don’t talk about grief or loss, so most of us don’t know anything about it until we’re face-to-face with it. When we reach the point where we can see that we’re making progress, and we begin to believe that our lives can be happy again–I think that’s a turning point! I just kept holding on to the fact that others had made it, so I could, too.

      I’m so glad that healing is happening for you. It’s a process, and naturally we want it to happen faster than it does. We want the pain to go away. Keep taking the steps, as it sounds like you are doing, and you will reach the other end.

      Bless you,
      Judy