Content Warning: child loss, death, cancer
Layers Upon Layers of Grief
The first phase of my grieving journey started the day my daughter was diagnosed with cancer. In the blink of an eye, our life together was forever altered and I was faced with the reality that my child had a very low chance of survival, and that, even if she did survive, the road ahead would likely involve tremendous physical suffering through a treatment of which itself could kill her.
I was grieving the loss of so many things before I ever even lost her. Immediately I was grieving her innocence and the loss of my ability to protect her. I was grieving the damage that would be done to her body and the pain I was told she would suffer.
Allowing Grief to Move Through
In writing those last lines above, I had to take a break to feel the enormity of my grief; to allow it some space. I was suddenly overcome by a tremendous wave of sorrow. I could see in my mind’s eye the video I’ve watched countless times of her first (and last) steps caught on camera. I could see myself in the video smiling, reaching out to her, and could vividly hear her squeals of delight.
And that’s the nature of grief, it can hit like a lightning bolt, or slowly simmer in the background until it morphs into a rolling boil, eventually spitting out of the pot to burn us.
When I felt the grief come up, I immediately recognized the impulse within me to contract against the pain, brush it away, swallow the lump in my throat, and just keep writing—I do need to get this thing done, after all. But I chose to take a break and sob for a while instead.
Grief is Not Pathological
I’ve learned over the years that there is tremendous power in consciously choosing to allow grief in, surrendering to its alchemy. As we learn to feel our grief and it becomes integrated into who we are, we can move in and out of it more fluidly. Like I did just now—I dipped into its turbulence, sobbing for a few minutes, allowing the sights, sounds, and memories to wash through me, and then I wiped my eyes and continuing on writing.
Notice I didn't label my grief as a problem. I didn't tell myself that I was crazy, or that I was having an emotional "breakdown." No need for any of that. I felt deeply, deeply sad. So I cried pretty intensely, and then I moved on with my day. That's it. Most days I move in and out of grief like that multiple times. There's nothing wrong with me. That's just the reality of grief.
Strength in Surrender
Our culture doesn’t like the word “surrender.” Our culture, that’s obsessed with winning and fighting, associates the act of surrender with giving up and losing. But there is a particular kind of wisdom and courage that is required in order to fully surrender into grief.
It is a wisdom that trusts the intelligence of the body, because grieving happens in and through the body. It is a wisdom that understands that grief, like all other emotions, is simply energy. And that energy needs to be moved, or it will solidify, making us sick.
It is a wisdom that understands that the only way through grief is to feel it. To welcome it into every cell, allowing our love and longing for what or who we have lost to wash over us completely, taking over for a time. When we have the courage to fully dive into our grief repeatedly, eventually we come to discover that we always come out the other side fully intact. We always survive. And we are stronger for it.
Looking for an Online Therapist in Kansas?
Do you need a safe, supportive place to grieve? Do you want to heal your relationship with your emotions or your body?
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!