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Experiencing the impact of grief, Part 2

By Ox Drover

In Part I we looked at what grief is and what “stages” we may pass through when we lose something or someone of great importance to us. We saw that grief can be “legitimate,” in which others “support us” by validating that we have a reason to be sad over the loss. Yet, there can be “disenfranchised” grief, grief that others do not view as “legitimate” reasons for grief, or shameful private grief that we cannot share.

In their attempts to “help” us, many people make fumbling attempts to “cheer us up” or to trivialize our pain, or attach “reasonable” time limits to how long we are able to grieve, which disenfranchises our pain.

Since most people view “grief” as equal to “Sadness,” the other stages of grief, which include Denial, Anger, Bargaining, and Acceptance, are not necessarily seen as parts of “grief processing.” Especially the stages of anger and bargaining may make the grieving person appear to be “crazy” to observers.

The sudden and irrational angry outbursts that we experience are just as much a part of our processing our grief as a crying bout is. Yet, this scares away and shoves away friends and would-be support, because they don’t understand the grieving process or why we would be so angry.

The bargaining stage, in which we may try to stop the pain by making deals with either God or the devil himself, is also another stage not understood by many of our family and friends, or the public in general. I think this is the stage that many victims of psychopaths are in when they go back again to an abusive relationship. “The devil you know is less scary than the devil you don’t know.”

Processing the roller coaster of feelings

Our grief over the losses of our deeply felt relationships with the psychopaths in our lives is just as valid and just as real as any other grief over any other important loss. Accepting that our grief is real to us, and that is all that matters, is our first task. Our pain is real; our pain is valid. We have a right to feel our pain. To experience the grief is our right! To express that pain without being devalued or disenfranchised is also our right.

Sometimes there is no one else who can or will validate that our pain is genuine, real and our right. In fact, many times others in our lives trivialize our pain, or emotions, or try to make us appear “crazy” for feeling as we do, for hurting, or even deny that any loss occurred. We must validate our own loss, our own pain, sometimes without the outside support, without the supportive presence of empathetic others. In a state of acute grief and pain, this is a difficult thing for us to accomplish.

Understanding the “roller coaster” nature of grief, the rapid cycling of one “stage” to another and back again, sometimes in a matter of minutes or hours, can keep us confused, and those in our environment confused, about whether we are “sane” or not! This rapid cycling of emotions, “okay” one moment, wildly crying the next, or angry and striking out, or trying to find some way to stop the pain by healing the relationship we lost, literally making a bargain with the “devil” psychopath, is the “normal” course of processing our grief and pain.

How long will this go on?

Until it is over.

Though there are trends in grief processing, each of us is an individual who will process through the grief at our own rate, in our own time and our own way. There are several things that will affect the “time line” in grief processing. The first thing, of course, is the depth of the loss. How much did this loss mean to you? How big was the loss?

Another thing that will impact the amount of time needed to process grief is having had prior experiences with grief that were positively resolved into acceptance. We learn how to process grief just like we learn to walk, a little bit at a time, and by practice. A child may learn to grieve over a loss of a beloved pet, yet some parents deprive this child of this learning exercise in the mistaken belief that they are “cheering up” the child when the day after the beloved puppy dies, the parents run out and buy Junior another puppy. Depriving a child of valid grief, the valuable learning experience of grieving, is not arming that child for later life which will be filled with losses in one form or another. So, the effects, either positive or negative, you have had with experiencing grief will effect how you process grief in the future.

Knowing what to expect in the grief process, and being able to name it, will affect the length of grieving. Though I professionally “knew” about grief and the processes we go through in resolving this emotional roller coaster, I was not “immune” to the feelings by my knowing. We cannot intellectually go around our pain, under it, or over it, we must go through the pain of the grief. There are no “short cuts.”

Multiple losses

The number of other losses that happen at the same time will affect how long the processing of grief lasts. Sometimes there are so many losses in a relationship with a psychopath that grieving for all of the losses at the same time is impossible. Because of the magnitude of grieving for all the losses at once, sometimes we are forced to put some losses on the back burner, so to speak, to deal with later. In my own experience, I found dealing with them individually for the most part was easier for me to handle than to try to lump them all together into one huge mass of loss which seemed too big and daunting to even tackle.

Because I dealt with them one at a time, it seemed to me the grieving over one thing or another went on for “decades.” As soon as I got one thing resolved, I had to tackle another one. This was very tiring and discouraging for me at times, but the burdens slowly lifted, and it seemed to me that the grief over each succeeding loss was less painful than the previous ones, that my experiences had made it easier for me to process, and quicker.

Validation

How much support we getand how we are validated affects the time needed to process the grief of our losses. When we are disenfranchised, or our grief is devalued or trivialized, we spend our time trying to validate the grief rather than resolving it. We try to “prove” to others that our grief is real.

Sometimes even well intentioned people who are trying to support and comfort us say the absolutely wrong thing, such as, “I know how you feel,” or, “It was meant to be,” or, “You will be okay,” at a time when we know they do not know how we feel, and that we feel we will never be okay again, and how could it be “meant” for us to hurt like this!?! We may fly into an emotional rage of pain and anguish.

How long? As long as it takes, without artificial limits from others like, “You should be over this now and move on with your life.” Also without artificial limits and time lines imposed by ourselves. “It’s been over a year now, I should be dating already.” Distracting yourself from the grief of one loss with another “new puppy” is not going to allow complete resolution of the first loss. Reaching the “acceptance” stage at one point, may not be staying there—remember the “roller coaster.” Giving yourself time to reach and remain in the acceptance stage for a time of peace, calm and quiet, is important. Don’t try to rush things!

10 Tips to support yourself in grieving:

  1. Listen—listen to your own pain, thoughts and feelings.
  2. Validate those feelings—yes they are real and I have a right to feel that way.
  3. Be kind to yourself—take time for yourself without guilt, you deserve it.
  4. Don’t put artificial time limits on your grief—it lasts as long as it does.
  5. Do know that though you don’t feel like it this minute—you will be okay.
  6. Reach out for support from others—talk about your pain to others who will listen.
  7. Come to Lovefraud and read and learn and receive support and validation.
  8. Distance yourself from stressful situations (and people) as much as possible.
  9. Decrease and delay voluntary and unnecessary changes in your life, if possible.
  10. Forgive yourself—you deserve it!


167 Comments on "Experiencing the impact of grief, Part 2"

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  1. ErinBrockovich says:

    Ann:
    Call the companies…..
    Like I said….If they are vendors or items you wish to retain….just tell them you want to remove His name and keep them solely in YOUR name.
    If they are not a company you need to continiue to do bus. with…..just ask for your name to be off the account.
    Get documentation in writing from all companies showing the date your name is removed etc..
    If they ask why…..it’s none of their business! If they press…your organizing the finances…your keeping it simple….
    They won’t go further…..
    During a divorce…..it’s best less said! IN most situations.

    It’s all a matter of placing calls and maybe sending a few fax’s out.

    In regards to the bank account…..you can do an online transfer of funds if you leave the old account open but unfunded.



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  2. mjlyness says:

    I am a newcomer to this site and though I have not seen any posts to this string since October 2009, I wanted to put a comment here. I think I was married to a sociopath. He’s a con-artist for sure. I’ve read all the material on this site about what a conartist/sociopath is and does and my husband fits the descriptions to a tee. I filed for divorce in November of 2009 after I found out he was having an affiair. He’s 45 and his affair was with a 20 year old Janapanese ballet dancer. I was agnry enough to do the right thing for myself and my children. But, since then it has been a rollercoaster of emotions. When I ready these posts about grief, I could really identify.

    I seemed to be doing “fine” in January and then he came back into my life with a a 5 hour declaration of undying love, told me how he was wrong, selfish, etc. He said he’d wait for me as as long as it took for me to heal, blah, blah, blah. I wanted to believe him so badly and I guess I did b/c we began talking on a weekly basis. Of course, then he started to even out the blame again between the two of us. While my behavior got crazy in the end – checking on him, wild mood swings, depression – I did not lie or cheat or avoid family repsonsibilities. Anyway, after a momth of “talking” he told me there was just too much that happened between us and it wouldn’t work. Meanwhile, I had already come to the conclusion that I would never trust him again – even if he became the most trustworthy person in the world, I would never trust him again. I guess my pride is hurst becasue he got to do the ending this time. I swear he built me up again just to drop me – on his terms – so he could have control. NO matter, I had already called my attorney to send the final paperwork for the divorce and had wirtten him an email saying I was going to finalize the divorce.

    I just want to be over this. I am still somewhat obsessed with him, and mostly why. Why did this happen? Why didn’t I trust my instints about him when we first got together? He seemed so perfect – he used what I now know as a clssic sociopathic ploy – flattery – to get me to connect with him. I knew something was off but I kept making excuses for him or I told my self I was being too judgemental about him and to lighten up. Now 85k of my money gone, in huge debt (he had no credit) and a shattered heart. I regret not trusting my instincts back then.

    I have instituted No Contact. Many of my friends told me this back in November. I always had a sense of peace when I could stick to it. But he would call on some pretense or other and I would call back. I have not blocked his number from my cell and home phones. I told him never to call me again and if he has to communicate, it is only about business (the divorce) and it must be through email, letter or my lawyer.

    Even though I know what he is, I am still so sad. I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that he really didn’t care about me at all. He just wanted to take things from from me or use me in some other way. I read some other posts here and someone said even they aren’t lying -which was my big problem with him – they are still being dishonest because of their underlying agena. So, he could be telling the truth in many situations but because of his agenda, he is still dishonest. I guess this is why he would get so upset at me for accusing him of lying. He probably wasn’t lying in many cases, but he was always after something other than what was apparant and maybe I sensed that, hence I always thought he was lying. He is the lie. That’s the thing. He is the lie, so actually verbalizing the truth doesn’t matter.

    Anyway, I have rambled on probably pretty incoherently. If anyone has a comment to make back to me, anything at all, I would appreciate it. It’s comforting to know I am not alone.



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  3. kim frederick says:

    Hi MJ. Yeah, I think they tend to set us up, just to boost their ego’s. They may not really love us, but they sure as hell don’t want to lose their control over us. If they can keep us emotionally wrapped up in them, they win.
    Feeling sad and confused, angry at yourself is all normal, and a part of recovery. You are grieving the loss of something you believed in, and planned a life around…of course you feel sad…but everyday you stay NC you’ll be that much closer to being happy and emotionally free.
    Kathleen Hawk has written some really good articles on the recovery process and they can be access here at LF by clicking on her name in the archives section.
    I’m glad you are here, and just take it one day at a time.



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  4. bluemosaic says:

    Thank you OX Drover,

    This article has helped me understand my grief and see it is ok for me to cry, be angry and ask for support and validation when I need it.
    I have had many well meaning family and freinds tell me to let it go-move on-just stop thinking about him and so on. Thankfully, I also have some who have been good listeners. I choose to speak to them only now, when I need to talk. I wish it had been easy to let him go-move on… and it really frustrated me that I could not do any of those things. I am rolling through the stages as I can only quess my spirit is directing, trying to let myself feel ok with the fact that I do hurt and it is taking me a long time to get through the sadness and stop feeling love for someone who clearly did not love me.
    I can see the abandonment that I have re-perpetrated on myself by choosing to love him, and giving myself permission to not deal with that till I am ready and capable.
    It is eye opening for me to be given permission to take my time-feel what I need to and be patient with myself. This is a gentle self love approach that I can embrace. Tough love does not work for me.
    I have already made some healthy choices of looking for a different counselor when my first one invalidated my greif. She had valid points of this being about my inner issues, but I felt invalidated and chose to look elsewhere for help. I just spent a year with someone who tore at my inner being in every way he could…I will not accept that in my life again, in any connection-relationship. If “it” don’t “feel” right…. it is not right for me.
    I will make a conciuos effort to read this again as I work my way through my feelings…Thanks to you for this post.

    Bluemosaic



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  5. ValleyGirl says:

    Thanks Blue for bringing this article out of the archives. The right advice seems to show up at the right time! I am so totally struggling with multiple losses as addressed here. It just doesn’t seem possible that people who were in my life for so many years have been phased out in the wake of Hurricane Spath. I am now in the process of distancing myself from a very dear friend who recently revealed a very disturbing relationship with a drug user, a person she knew was troubled but still chose to get involved with. I have lost so much respect for my friend, and while I feel like a “bad friend” for not being supportive, ever since she shared this dysfunctional “love story” with me it has deeply affected me and brought back my own trauma. I’ve never put conditions on my friendships (aside from ending the most toxic ones, that is!) but it may be necessary for me to tell her that topic is off limits. I am hoping that doing things to take her mind off the situation (movies, crafts, anything but discussing the situation!) will show my support of her, but not of the relationship. I would hate to lose yet another person from my life, but how else can I become emotionally healthy when the people around me are not?



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