The truth about Grief & Trauma Recovery

The man in the picture was my heart. This year I marked the 18th anniversary of his passing. Some years I remember him fondly on this day. Some years I am a mess. Some years the week or so before is harder. That old cellular memory is a tricky thing. Your body will always remember. A lot of the work is reducing the impact of those memories. When the memories involve the loss of those that we loved – a part of us isn’t ever really willing to let go.
A lot of people have expectations that their trauma or grief should heal within a certain time frame. But it doesn’t work like that. They have their own agenda. Very individual and complex things that will take whatever trajectory, path and time that they need to. And sometimes they never will completely. But you can lessen their impact.
Considering Psychotherapy and Psychiatry can take many years, if not a lifetime – I’m somewhat bemused when people expect dramatic results after one session.
Having my own experiences of trauma and grief, I can tell you how long and hard I’ve worked to heal. Sometimes life comes along and adds something that brings all of my work crashing down. At other times I make great leaps forward. We also adjust to our new state, so that it feels like we haven’t moved.
Life doesn’t stop happening. It expands to fill the space. It helps to expand our awareness, so we can notice where we are in relation to where we were and want to be. I can still have trauma triggered, when something unexpected comes along. I just learned to see them as a chance to heal a deeper layer. I still have dark nights of the soul. I’ve gotten better at them. They used to last for weeks or months at a time. Now I can get through one in a few hours.
I’ve trained my system to be more resilient. More elastic and responsive. Not impervious. Not hard. I don’t fear the grief, sadness and overwhelm, because I know they will pass.
The most powerful thing we can change is our expectations. Setbacks are not failure. They are proof of success. Because we must have moved forward in order to fall back.
We keep moving forward. We get better. And one day we notice that we are actually OK.
And that we are allowed to be OK.
We can let the old wash over us and we can sit with it, knowing that it’s never going to break us. We are more than this. We are OK. Remarkable even.