My Fear of Grief
I had no idea when I was preparing for the birth of my first child that the skills I was learning were the same skills I would draw on a mere 18 months later in order to midwife myself through my grief following her death.
Being at this practicum site was incredibly difficult for me. Prior to Olive’s death, grief was not something I was interested in working with professionally. Other types of trauma, other difficult emotions, shadowy material—sure, bring it on. But grief? Grief was an experience that struck terror into my heart.
There was a subconscious part of me that thought grief was contagious. I didn’t want to think about it or be around others’ grief, because it brought me that much closer to imagining myself in their shoes. I also hated knowing that there was nothing I could do to take away their pain. It brought me face-to-face with the uncomfortable reality that the only way “out” of grief is through. That there’s no way to avoid or escape it.
So how can we be with the pain of our grief, even when the intensity feels overwhelming?
Surrendering to the Body
The way we survive our grief is by feeling it. Grief, like other emotions, is commonly thought of as psychological, but we actually experience emotions in and through the body. Most of us don’t know how to be in our bodies. I know I didn’t, until I gave birth to Olive.
During labor was the first time I had to mindfully surrender to the wisdom and direction of my body. I had to pay attention to internal sensations as important messages. It was also the first time I had the opportunity to intentionally relax into and embrace intense physical pain.
Learning to fully inhabit my body, learning to ride the waves of labor contractions, and learning to breathe through my fear and my resistance, these are the exact same skills that helped me weather the emotional pain of my grief.
Staying with the Pain
It is completely instinctive to move away from pain. If you reach out and touch a hot stove, before you can even think your hand jerks away. It is the same for emotional pain, our instinct is to do everything we can to avoid it.
In labor, I knew I needed to override my desire to brace against the pain of my contractions in order to bring Olive into the world. The same has been true in my grief; I’ve had to consciously learn how to turn toward my pain, instead of away from it, in order to bring myself through the other side.
I’ve discovered over and over again through the years that the pain and fear caused by avoiding my grief is always worse than the pain of the grief itself. That my fear of fully dropping into, fully feeling, fully surrendering to the intensity of my loss and the intensity of my feelings, is always worse than just letting myself feel them.
Looking for an Online Therapist in Kansas?
Do you need a safe, supportive place to grieve? My Lawrence, Kansas counseling practice specializes in providing grief and bereavement counseling, along with therapy for highly sensitive adults, therapy for self-esteem, therapy for anxiety, and therapy for codependency.
Through counseling I help people overcome shame and the fear of being their true selves. Breaking the cycles of people-pleasing and self-abandonment is possible, and I'm here to help. I offer online therapy throughout the state of Kansas.
Reach out today to schedule your free 15 minute phone consultation, I'd love to hear from you!
Other Services Offered by Maggie
In addition to providing online therapy anywhere in Kansas, I’m also a professional astrologer, and offer Birth Chart Readings anywhere in the United States, as well as abroad.
Astrology is a powerful tool for gaining self-awareness, finding meaning in and understanding of our difficult experiences, and for receiving validation regarding our own unique life path. All of which supports our mental health in a positive way!
Interested in getting a Natal Chart Reading? Book a free phone consultation and let’s get started!