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Distortions/Detours in the Grief Journey

Posted by: Corry Roach on 3/29/2011

When we don’t recognize what our pain looks like, or we’ve not ever been given permission to work it through, we divert that pain into addictions or distortions of all shapes, sizes and subtle disguises. We shape it into drug and/or alcohol addiction. Work addiction. Food or sex addiction, hoarding, or often transference from one addiction to another. So, the message of greatest import is not, “Is there pain you bear?’ but rather what is the pain you bear?”


It is my belief that our Creator’s greatest desire for us is that we live a life of love filled with joy, peace and harmony. I believe we must embrace or internalize a meaning of spiritual peace before we can begin to walk that road. It’s like I need to be able to read before I can even begin to decipher the map’s directions, before I can attempt to locate and decide on the pathway for my own peace journey. If we are not careful, or have had limited exposures to genuine love, care and respect, we need to learn the Truth about those things first, so we do understand the feeling of true spiritual meaning in life. That means we need to face our fears regardless, whether they stand for all those little deaths, or for the big final one of our own mortality.  It is true that only by facing all our fears about death, will we ever be able to embrace the fulfillment of a life well lived that ends without regret.


I  often think of my beloved adopted son who was born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Sometimes, these children have anomalies in the construction of their brain, so they have actual parts absent or malformed. Often, ‘thinking’ parts are missing, and these children are incapable of entertaining a complete thought or consequential behaviour, because they don’t have a full template of all that is necessary for smooth, reliable function and decision making responses.


 The prefrontal cortex of their brain, or the feeling/limbic center, is most often affected, leaving them with inappropriate emotional responses or affect that is often expressed in violence or hypersensitivity. Not unlike a ‘short’ in the wiring of a building, there is either ‘flat’ emotional affect or there is the explosive spark of a hot wire.

 These dear ones must live with this brain function as it is, despite society not understanding a great deal about it and its variances of degree in impact at this point in research and understanding of its history. This is also and excellent example of how the unconscious act of one individual can affect the quality of life in another.


My son became one of my greatest teachers as an addict, when he taught me, not what the world could offer him in hope for his healing through medical research and knowledge, but rather what hope I had to offer him because of my spirit’s determined mother love and dedication to his quality of life. I learned that, although my love for him could not save him, his love and respect for himself could.


 I simply needed to continue mirroring my model of self respect and love to him, so that he awakened that in himself as a worthy and deliberate child of God, also deserving of a love filled life. My modeling of this authentic mentorship meant so much more than the many other things my ego wanted to demand without forgiveness at the time. I observed with wry irony how clearly I could recognize that smoke screen so well in hind sight…and how tragic the outcome could have been had I not listened to my spirit’s encouragement…

 After all, this journey was long ago not about me anymore. Instead, it was about staying present to the Truth of my love for my son, and the spiritual discipline and forgiveness that this entailed. I needed to share my love and discipline with forgiveness, recognizing that his ego’s self destructive behaviour was nothing more than unrsolved grief.  


 In the end, I believe my son got what he needed, and we both learned a lot about the sickness of codependence, enabling and rescuing, and what it meant to stand firm in the face of those adversities. It also shows again how we all affect one another’s lives, and that betrayal is a common, difficult and complicated grief to overcome.


We, as caregivers, need to awaken children and adults like this, whose minds are not wholly functioning or awake. Whether physically or emotionally affected, we must offer hope to them. Only when we know what the problem is do we know how to begin in its repair to achieve its highest level of function. By doing so, our hope is that we can achieve a deep sense of meaning, despite the crosses we must bear in this life. The final achievement is that we live rich lives, not in spite of, but rather because of these crosses…


 It is my belief that our spirit remains whole, without regard for the condition of the physical body. Through the unconscious language I use in my therapy, I am led not only to assist my patient in identifying the problem, but how to heal it as well. The healing always comes from the spiritual source of the ‘inner One that knows,’ and I simply facilitate the process of healing with them. Patients come to recognize the feeling of spiritual love and forgiveness, and that we are all a part of that mystery. Peace shines forth like a star in the night, with the warmth of a fuzzy blanket.


 Even in the eyes of the dying, as they make peace with themselves, their disease, their loved ones and their God, this wisdom is often reflected in the endless depth of their gaze. How humbly blessed I feel to be a part of these sacred walks on holy ground, simply because with each journey, I discover yet more ways of being human and living more fully.


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I look forward to reading your thoughts on men and grief and will share how it strikes me.

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