The Shadow Side of Unresolved Grief
“Beware that you do not lose the substance by grasping at the Shadow.” ~Aesop
Grief has a tremendous amount of potential for growth. Unresolved Grief has a tremendous amount of potential for attracting and creating suffering. With the first we are empowered, the second we are disempowered. So, what is the difference?
When we embrace the normal and unavoidable grief from the losses in our lives, and allow ourselves to fully feel our pain, complete what is incomplete in our relationship to what has been lost, without trying to suppress, ignore, or hide from it, we create immense potential for understanding ourselves better. We can break our hearts wide open in a good way, leading to more self-compassion and compassion for others. We can forgive ourselves as well as forgive others. We become more aware. In other words, we can grow from the experiences of grief.
If we try to suppress or avoid our grief, it will lurk in the shadows hiding in the guise of such things as anger, addictions, and depression; all of which can lead to further suffering.
It takes a tremendous amount of energy to suppress and avoid feeling our grief. The feelings can be extremely uncomfortable and painful at times. So much so that we will seek out and find many ways to relieve and/or numb ourselves. Essentially, we can and will sometimes resort to anything that brings relief.
Let’s look at anger. Anger is a valid emotion which warrants attention in the right circumstances. But what about anger gone awry? In other words, anger that seems beyond what the situation or circumstances warrant and has morphed into aggression or even violence. What is underneath this misplaced anger? Quiet often it has become the outlet for suppressed grief that can no longer be contained.
How about addictions? Our grief is surfacing, the pain is upon us and we grasp for anything that will give us immediate relief. Maybe it’s a glass of wine or two or three, hey why not the whole bottle. For a brief time, we feel relief. We feel a sense of numbness. It’s so much better than the pain. Then the effects of the alcohol wear off and we feel our pain rising again. We start to think about how we can get relief again. First it becomes a habit, then an addiction. Maybe our choice of relief is drugs. Maybe it’s sex. Maybe it’s social media. Maybe its binge-watching Netflix. Whatever our choice of reprieve from the pain, it is only a temporary non solution. Now we have pain and a potentially life-altering addiction.
When we shove our feelings down, literally depressing them through whatever means, the result can often lead to feelings of depression. The weight of carrying all these unfelt, unresolved feelings brought on by loss and the resulting grief can become just too much. The load is too heavy. Our energy becomes heavy. Our enthusiasm for anything wains and we lose our life force. We look and feel depressed.
Anger, addictions, and depression become the shadows of unresolved grief. If you feel that this sounds like you, you can do something about it, you can cast a light on your shadow and empower yourself again. Consider finding support to work through your unresolved grief; no matter how long ago or how recent your loss.
Choose substance and growth. Stop hiding in the shadows of your unresolved grief. If you are not sure this is for you reach out and book a free consultation with me. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.