Grieving The Loss of a Loved One
By Flavio Iammarino
Grieving the loss of a loved one, whether the loss was through death, divorce, or a lost relationship can cause great emotional sadness. Over the years in my clinical experience, I have had many clients who told me that they felt fragmented, empty, or “not whole” after losing either a loved one through death or a relationship break-up. Although we worked on different negative emotions, the deep sadness created by this loss did not go away… they still felt a deep emptiness inside.
Through our life, we have been told that in order to love someone, we must give that person a part of ourselves. Every time we do this, we become less whole which creates a feeling of anxiousness and sadness. We have a skewed belief that if we don’t give someone a part of our self, we think that we don’t love him or her and then we begin to feel guilty.
Also, we can lose a part of our self when there is a traumatic experience. Example: In death, a person will actually either bury a part of themselves with the lost loved one, or they’ll leave a part of themselves at the cemetery, or actually at the hospital or hospice where the loved one remained during their sickness.
Allow me to explain to you how I learned about this process: A family doctor referred to me a patient regarding a sleeping disorder. We did accomplish some change in our first session, but in the middle of the second session, all of a sudden she said that there were times that she felt she wanted to go to the cemetery, dig the grave, and jump in. So I asked her who was buried there. She said it was her husband that died 30 years earlier. Then something inside me made me ask her who else was buried in that grave. First she asked me, “What do you mean?” so I repeated the same question again. Then she realized that when she buried her husband 30 years ago, she also buried a part of herself with him. For the last 30 years, she got used to not having that part of her, so she began to believe that the state that she was living in was normal.
The problem of not being able to sleep was fired up by the fact that her second husband was also dying, and she had an unconscious fear that she was going to lose another part of herself when she buried her second husband. This created anxiety and more sadness because she would lose yet another part of herself. Through some simple steps in our counseling session, she was able to take that part of herself back, and after she did this, she felt much lighter and more whole. We also changed the belief that in order to love someone, you have to give a part of yourself to them – You do not have to give a part of yourself to anyone to show love.
“In many cases it is not the lost person that someone cannot let go of, but it is the part of themselves that they gave to that person that causes them to hold on.”
The holidays are a wonderful, joyous time of year, but for many who have lost someone close to him or her, it is a very difficult time of year that brings about great sadness. During this time, people think about the loss instead of focusing on all the great joys the loved one brought into their life. If we focus on the positive memories and celebrate the experiences that were shared together, instead of focusing on what has been lost, we will begin to heal and find peace. Be grateful for what is left around you, nurture those relationships, and make them grow.
We can find peace in understanding that there is no death; there is only re-birth. We are born into this world in a physical form, but in death our spiritual form lives on. If we are willing to accept this possibility, we can be comforted knowing that our loved ones are always with us.
If you are grieving the loss of a loved one and need help, please contact Flavio Iammarino to find out how his services can assist you.