Dear Ted: I have noticed that there is a level of frustrated energy after a loss. When my brother died, I felt my sadness, but I also felt like I was coming out of my skin - like I was stuck with nothing to do but feeling I should be taking action. What are your thoughts? Thank you, Bob
Dear Bob: Great question! We see this on the news all the time where something happens and there is a demand for action, which may not be from a sound state of mind due to shock, anger and less discernment of what may be correct and sound steps to take.
When you have a loss, your mind will feel you are in danger as your entire system (mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually) becomes out of balance. Your brain alerts the entire system to go into either fight or flight mode. Your adrenals are activated, giving you an extra boost to go into action. The problem is you are in a mental and emotional state that is all about how to decrease the pain in the moment, which may not be the best answer in the long run. As your mind wants to do something to ease the discomfort, at this point, there may not be anything you can do, as what you really want is your loss to not have happened. Until levels of denial and shock fade, your mind is going to think it can change the situation and needs action to "fix" the problem.
Sitting with uncomfortable feelings - such as sadness, confusion, shock, helplessness or any other feelings - is difficult and can cause a high level of frustration. It is as if your engine is revving up, but you're stuck in park. As your internal system starts to recalibrate and you have time to be grounded, healthy action that serves you for the long run can happen. Holding back from impulsive actions is difficult and takes a lot of discipline at a time when resistance is difficult. To help ease that imbalance is to find healthy ways to release the energy. Actions as simple as lighting a candle, making a meal, going for a walk, gathering with like-minded people or other healing actions can be beneficial while not trying to change the world all in one day.
Often, impulsive actions come back as regrets or have a negative ripple effect that causes more negative consequences. Allowing yourself to pause and have time to make sure your actions are from a sound place rather than an angry or desperate motive will help healing to happen with less chaos. Loving and compassionate actions will have a stronger impact in the long run without causing damage along the way.
Thank you for the question. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.
Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Wiard, founder of Golden Willow Retreat, at (575) 776-2024 or GWR@newmex.com.
This column seeks to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.