Posted by: Donna Cunningham | November 15, 2009

Internet Find of the Week: New Resources for Healing Grief and Loss

©11-15-2009 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

I know as much about grief as the next Plutonian—we seem to experience more of it and earlier in our lives than most people, so we become experts by default.  There’s a chapter on grief and what it contributes to becoming a Plutonian personality in my book, Healing Pluto Problems.

 However, grief therapies continue to evolve and to incorporate new healing tools, so I did an internet search to find new resources—and, not too coincidentally, to get out of having to write more about it myself!  Here are some great finds—people who are writing wisely and well about the many faces and forms of bereavement and how to emerge from it a stronger person. 

THE PROCESS OF GRIEVING AFTER A BREAKUP: Susan J. Elliott has several wise and kind articles on grief on her blog, Getting Past yogpypcvrur Past. Some helpful ones are: The Emotions of Grief During A Breakup; 12/29 TFTD ~ When The Person You Love Doesn’t Love You; Getting Past Your Breakup; and Time Does Not Heal All Wounds. She’s written an excellent book, Getting Past your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing that Ever Happened to You.  Go To The Book Website To Order! Here’s an excerpt from her powerful post, Forgiveness Redux:

“There is a saying that forgiveness is very freeing. And it is. But the caveat is that it is freeing ONLY when done at the right time and for the right reason.

“If you’ve been hurt, you may be told by others to let go of your anger and forgive, you’ll feel so much better. The truth is that you can only forgive after you’ve worked through your anger and pain. If you rush to forgiveness, you may never confront the boiling hatred you sometimes feel for this person who hurt you. If you forgive too soon, you may never turn cross-eyed in rage at how poorly you were treated. If you forgive too soon you may find yourself open to be hurt again, perhaps by the same person.”  

USING DREAMS TO HEAL GRIEF: Elaine Williams blogs on bereavement in its many stages and forms at http://www.ajourneywelltaken.com. She writes from the point of view of a wise, honest person who has descended deeply into bereavement and not flinched from working it through.  She recounts her dream process as a new widow in a particularly vivid post, Dreams in Healing Grief

skywriter, Donna Cunningham, grief resources“There were many nights as a new widow that I fell into an exhausted, restless sleep. In the first two years after my husband’s death, I had countless dreams in which he appeared. My dreaming seemed to revolve around day-to-day issues with my kids, money, fear of failure, and later, reentering the dating world.

“Often I would awake from a dream and try to decipher the meaning. I had been doing this for years, but having lost my husband, the dreams now held special significance.

“If a dream felt particularly vivid, I would write it down. Sometimes bits and pieces would be recalled at a later point in the day, almost like a déjà vu moment. I sometimes experienced an “ah-ha” moment, and yet other times I wondered why I had crazy and confusing dreams.

“Then there were the comforting dreams. I speculated was it really my husband communicating with me, or was my subconscious responsible for the messages received? Whatever the source, dreams wove all through my healing process.”

GRIEVING OVER A MISCARRIAGE, ABORTION, OR GIVING A CHILD UP FOR ADOPTION is a particularly Plutonian sort of loss. It’s sometimes only completed years later when triggered by an event and generally under a transit like the current one of Pluto and Saturn. It’s so  taboo that not many people are likely to be supportive about it. I came across a review of a helpful new book: Grief Unseen: healing pregnancy loss through the Arts. (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, UK)  Here’s an excerpt:

“At least one in five pregnancies ends in miscarriage, yet pregnancy loss remains a taboo topic and effective aftercare is rarely agriefunseencvrvailable for those who have experienced it. Grief Unseen explains the different kinds of childbearing losses, such as failed fertility treatment, ectopic pregnancy, and stillbirth, and explores their emotional impact on women and their partners, and the process of healing.

“An established art therapist and mental health counselor, Laura Seftel shares her own experiences of miscarriage and recovery, and describes the use of art and ritual as a response to loss in traditional and modern cultures. She presents a rich variety of artists who have explored pregnancy loss in their work and shows how people with no previous artistic experience can generate creative responses as part of the healing process. The book includes step-by-step exercises in guided imagery, poetry, visual art, journaling, and creating rituals.” 

  Read the rest of the review here: http://newwritinginternational.com/2006/03/07/grief-unseen-healing-pregnancy-loss-through-the-arts/ or order here: http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/book/9781843108054

 EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing): Though her writing is very technical and mostly for pros, Beth S. Patterson, MA, LPC  has some important information on her blog Navigating Life’s Changes. She writes about one of the more modern tools she uses in her practice here: EMDR as a Healing Tool in Transforming Traumatic Grief:

 “The intense and painful experiences of grief are generally considered “normal.”  However, when those experiences are extremely distressing, unduly interfere with day-to-day functioning or do not subside to a manageable level over time, the bereaved may be experiencing complicated or traumatic grief.  Complicated grief has been proposed as a new diagnostic category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).” 

She goes on to list the qualities of traumatic and persistent grief and describes the ways it can be relieved by EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

What Are the Payoffs for Working through Grief?

 Grieving may bstormrbw2-a2de one of the experiences people have during Pluto transits, particularly with Saturn in the picture as well.  It may not be about a loss that they suffer during this transit, but instead can be old grief  that now comes to the surface as acute sorrow over things that happened long ago that were never resolved. 

Another thing that can happen is that a current situation will bring up a feelings about a series of past losses, one after another, as the transit goes on.  It’s said that every new bereavement carries all the old ones with it.

 Unresolved grief can lead to a chronic sadness or depression–especially when well-meaning people urge that the loss be numbed with pills or alcohol. (If you’re a follower of Eckhart Tolle’s writings, unresolved grief is a major contributor to what he calls “the pain body.”)  

Having the courage to feel the sorrow and other emotions like anger about a loss and to work them through can lead to new growth and freedom…even, at some point, to renewed joy and zest in living.  (You probably won’t believe this if you’re grieving now, but keep that thought in the back of your mind like a life preserver.)

 If you or someone you know suffered a huge loss,  don’t let anyone push you to get over it too quickly.  Instead, look for support in getting through it.  Often friends and loved ones will be supportive at first, but then want you to get over it quickly. At that point, seeking out a bereavement counselor or group may be what’s most helpful.  

See the follow-up post here: More about Healing Grief and Loss.

More Posts for your Pluto-Saturn Preparedness Kit:

Related Posts for Using the Transit to Change Unwanted Patterns:

 If this post was helpful, DON’T MISS THE NEXT INSTALLMENT IN THE SERIES.  Sign up for a subscription, and get a FREE EBOOKLET for Skywriter Subscribers Only: Mothers, Daughters, and the Moon, a 50-page excerpt from The Moon in your Life. Read more about it here: NEW: FREE BOOKLET FOR SKYWRITER SUBSCRIBERS! 

 If you’re already a subscriber and want a copy, forward the most recent email post to me at moonmave@spiritone.com. To sign up for a subscription, go to the top right hand corner of the blog and click on “Subscribe.”  Then send me an email with your subscription confirmation or an email post with a request for the booklet in the subject line. 


Responses

  1. Thanks for recommending the Grief Unseen book. It’s very timely.

  2. Donna,
    I am learning from reading your column that I apparently am more Plutonian than I realized. And I can testify to the power of several of the healing methods mentioned here.
    Twenty-one years ago I lost a baby at 17 weeks in utero. One week a heart beat; the next week nothing. Using a mid-wife, no insurance. I carried the dead fetus for another month before I could find a doctor willing to take me as a patient to induce labor. In the depths of a deep depression over the loss, I had a wonderful dream that lifted my despair — the images were SO strong, I subsequently made it into a piece of art. Fast-forward to my days as a regular newspaper columinst. The anniversary of the baby’s death was approaching and I debated whether or not to write on such a ‘downer’ of a subject. But I did. My readers’ response was incredible and most touching was a hand-written letter from a woman in her 70s who shared her heartache when she miscarried decades ago. I realized what a need there is for us women to be able to grieve and talk about this ‘taboo’ subject. Another piece of the healing came when I found a “heavenly” resin statue of a baby’s head cupped in angel wings. It is a constant reminder and a constant comfort for my loss and the life I didn’t get to share.

    • A heartbreaking story. My mother had a stillborn child as her first, and that child was somehow very real to all of us as a part of our family history. Donna

  3. Hi Donna: Thank you so much for including my information on your blog. I hope it is helpful to others who have suffered loss. Best. Elaine Williiams

    • You share yourself and your experience in a beautiful way, Elaine. Donna


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