Smitten with Him

grown-up stuff happens here sometimes

Complicated Grief?

on March 31, 2015

I took a short grief quiz online a couple of weeks ago because this Loserman thing was making me nuts! I wish I could just throw the lovey-dovey, mushy-gushy feelings away — or possibly donate them to someone who needs them more than I do… But, today I feel closer to being over it than I did when I took that quiz. So, that’s something, right?

Anyway. I ramble…

The results of the quiz stated that I could be suffering from “complicated grief”.

I thought, WTF? Isn’t ALL grief complicated?

So… You know me, I went and looked it up and found something that helped me a little.

I want to share it here because a few of my friends have been suffering as well. I figure that, if it brings me some kind of relief, it might help you, too.

Complicated Grief: How to Get Unstuck


shutterstock_143210572All grief is painful, and it never feels simple.  But complicated grief is its own category: It’s when time is moving on, but you’re not; the loss and sadness won’t let go.  Maybe it still doesn’t even feel real to you, no matter how much time has passed.

Here are some thoughts on how to begin to pull out of the quicksand.

1)  Recognize that no matter how unthinkable the loss is, healing is still possible.

You might be so deep in it that you can’t quite believe that.  But do your best to believe that others have felt equivalent losses, and they have begun to recover.  That’s why grief support groups are so valuable.  You can see examples of people in various stages of healing.  There’s hope in that.  There’s even camaraderie in it.  You’re all survivors of the same war, in a sense. That can be a bond for life.

And if the idea of getting in a room full of strangers and telling your story makes you recoil, believe that many others in that room felt the same way when they first got there.  They kept coming back, and they got better.

It helps me to realize that other people have suffered through much worse losses than this and survived magnificently better than I am. Loserman was just a person passing through my life, a relationship lost — not a leg or my eyesight or my sanity (even though it might feel like it at times 😉 ). I need to be grateful for all of the things I have and move on through it.

And, you are all here ❤ 😀

2)  Understand that your love for a person (relationship, in my case) is not negated by your recovery.

Many people hold on tightly to their pain, as if it’s the bond to the one they’ve lost.  On some level, they feel that moving on is disloyal; it says that the person (relationship) lost wasn’t truly loved.

The truth is, that person (relationship) can never be replaced.  But his/her (that) value is not determined by the length and intensity of your suffering.  Ceasing to live out of solidarity with the dead benefits no one.  If that’s what you’ve been doing subconsciously, make it explicit; recognize what your loved one would actually want for you.

I think, in my case, I am trying to negate my recovery for Loserman; to make it seem like my relationship with him never even happened. I am trying to rush through this process of loss because I don’t think that Loserman is worth the pain I am feeling. When, in fact, the relationship that we had truly *IS* worth it. I need to realize that our relationship was a living thing and that it was beautiful and that I will miss it – and that’s okay.

3)  Begin to explore what’s keeping you stuck.

a) Is it the relationship itself?  Sometimes it’s much easier to move on from a relationship that was loving and supportive than one that was tormented.  In the latter case, people might feel guilt and shame, believe that they should have done more to repair it, or be grieving for the relationship they wish they had rather than the one they did (for example, when an abusive parent has died).

b) Is it about the traits of the person that you think you’ll never encounter again?

c) Is it about your fears of abandonment and rejection?

d) Is it the way this loss connects to others you’ve experienced, in a painful domino effect?

e) Is it the circumstances of the death (end of the relationship)?  Sometimes they were traumatic and leave you with terrible images, or perhaps it was a protracted illness and you witnessed great suffering.

a) Probably.
b) I will miss Coconut… *sigh* Also, Loserman and I got along very well almost all of the time. It was so comfortable. I am afraid I won’t be able to find that connection with another person.
c) Yes: rejection.
d) No. I think it’s the fact that this is a new kind of loss I have not yet experienced, and that is what’s hanging me up – I can’t figure out how to maneuver through it safely.
e) Definitely, a resounding yes. He was a total asshole in the way that he “ended it”, leaving me hanging with no resolution to help me put this thing to rest.

4)  Once you have a sense of why you’re stuck, you can formulate a plan to get moving again.

You can begin to counteract the paralysis by breaking it down into component parts, and challenging what you’ve been assuming is true.  That plan might be going to therapy or a support group; it might be paying more attention to your diet or exercise.  What it needs to do is affirm that you are still here, and there is hope in that.  One step at a time isn’t only for AA; it’s good for grief, too.

Be in the moment–not stuck in the past, or fearing the future.  The moment will be far less painful if you allow yourself to experience it, through all your senses.   What do you like to taste?  Touch?  Smell?  Your default response right now might be, “Nothing.”  But to heal, you’ll need to challenge that premise, by doing something.

Think of what you used to love doing, and try it again.  And again.  Try something new.  Find your curiosity.

None of this is easy, but you read this far, and that says something important.  It says that your desire to heal is strong.  You might not believe it yet, but you can go far.

I have been overanalyzing the hell out of myself trying to figure out what it is about *me*. Do I intentionally choose people, subconsciously knowing it will never work out? How do I stop myself? How can I tell? What is that “hidden” characteristic about them that entices me? If I instantly like a person, is that a sign that they are a horrible partner for me?

Luckily, I am mostly past the “I can’t like anything” stage. There are still days here and there when I want to punch everyone in the throat, or when I can’t even drag myself to the rink to go skating. But, they are coming less and less.

I am trying to taste, touch, smell and feel things in a different way; trying to reawaken my awareness.

And, rather than finding my curiosity, as Ms. Brown suggests, I’ve been finding my courage.

7 responses to “Complicated Grief?

  1. You’ve got some important advice on this post — and you’re going to end up better than ever!

  2. 2bshameless says:

    something I needed to read – I took the quiz too and got complicated grief

  3. […] Maybe it’s because I don’t know how to deal with feelings of loss. […]

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