A Transformative Process
by Ellen Hicks
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according to Miriam Greenspan in her book Healing through the
Dark Emotions The Wisdom of Grief, Fear and Despair, is a universal
response to death and loss. It is a`psychospiritual process. As
the conventional ego begins to give way, the spirit can do grief
work. Griefwork is not a return to the pre-loss status quo. (Pg.
do not get “back to normal” after a child dies, or
after any profound loss. Grief is an opportunity not for “resolution,”
as in the popular parlance, but for transformation: a wholly new
awareness of reality, self, beloved and world.” (Pg .93)
does that mean? For a person who has experienced a profound loss
– whether it is the loss of child, a loved one, a job or
a friend, Miriam Greenspan’s thoughts may mean many things.
who are experiencing a profound loss, often feel lost, alone and
isolated from the world around them. There world view has been
altered and the long held beliefs that all is right with the world
have been shattered.
daily rituals often become too much to accomplish and if the state
of grief lasts more than 6 weeks, the medical profession seems
to think that we are now clinically depressed and require medication.
grief is, as Miriam Greenspan suggests, a psychospiritual process,
how can one attach the concept of time to it? How can one say
that six weeks after a traumatic event, all will be back to normal?
are so many events that impact our lives. How can those who have
been traumatized by war, lost loved ones as a result of domestic
violence, suffered imprisonment and torture, or witnessed a devastating
natural disaster be expected to “have it all together in
the human spirit has tremendous resilience and there are many
stories of people who have forgiven those who have oppressed them.
An Incan woman I met recently remarked, “all we can do is
forgive. If we remembered all that has been done to us we could
not go on.”
her resilience, the grief of the oppression of her people over
many generations is still written on her face and witnessed in
her tears. She functions in the world and has committed her life
to helping others, but still the grief is present.
then do we suggest to those who are grieving, that all will be
well; this too shall pass; just get on with it; keep busy and
it won’t hurt so much? Just get back on the horse; that
was then and this is now. You cannot live in the past. You just
have to choose to be positive.
not suggesting that one does not heal, but to suggest that a person
is not changed by the loss he/she may suffer seems to me to be
a denial of the human journey.
not every aspect of our life journey, a journey to understanding
of self and the world in which we live? If so, then why do we
expect everyone to experience grief in the same time frame and
express it in the same way? Why do we even think that we can pathologize
a natural and required journey to transformation?
do we expect a person to just snap out of it? To suggest to a
person who is grieving the death of loved one that the loved on
is in a better place, may offer some modicum of comfort, but may
not be where the grieving person is in his/her journey.
us not confuse our discomfort with their tears, silence or depressed
mood, and our need to make things better while witnessing their
grief, with the person’s journey of transformation - a journey
from whom they knew they were, to a deeper knowledge of who they
together the pieces of a puzzle can sometimes take a long time
and each person attacks it in his/her own way. Let us, therefore,
respect that the path someone takes may be different from our
own and give each person permission to walk their path to transformation
in the way that brings them the greatest understanding.
Ellen Hicks, M Ed., C.C.C. is a counsellor, trainer and writer
who last year experienced four major losses and is in the process
of her own transformation. Source: Greenspan, Miriam, Healing
through the Dark Emotions The Wisdom of Grief, Fear and Despair,
Shambhala Publications Inc. Boston, Massachusetts, 2003
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