A Grief Recovery Project Post
You’ve probably heard about the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. While many people do indeed experience those emotional stages, they sure as hell aren’t linear.
I told you I would try anything in the Grief Recovery Project, and Hypnotherapy was a surprise hit. I’d only ever seen it in comedy routines or cop dramas on TV. It’s nothing like that. The best way I can describe it is a very deep guided meditation and you are in a very relaxed state. You are awake and aware the entire time, so the only way you can end up quacking like a duck is if you really want to end up quacking like a duck. Like anything on the GRP list, it helps to be open to the experience. I was VERY skeptical as I met with my hypnotherapist the first time, but he came highly recommended by someone I trust and I was desperate to speed up my recovery process.
One of the reasons I went to see Ben was the intense social anxiety that showed up after Dan died. Remember, social anxiety is super common with grief, especially in the months immediately following the loss of your spouse. I would have full blown panic attacks at the thought of going out to see my friends. If I managed to get dressed to go to work, I’d sit in my car hyperventilating til I almost blacked out. I wrote at least a dozen resignation letters for a job I love because the pressure was too great. I “opted out” of the holidays because the thought of being with that many people, even the family kind of people, made me want to vomit. I was being held hostage by my grief. Ben helped me work through the social anxiety very quickly, and in the process uncovered some other issues that were contributing to my general state of post-Dan cray-cray.
Remember when my grief counselor said that to work through it, I’d have to feel the feelings? Apparently I’d drawn the line for some of those feelings. In my very first hypnotherapy session we uncovered my anger. Up until that day, I would have told you that I wasn’t angry and that maybe I’d skipped that step. That was a convenient lie I told myself. I was angry. So, so angry. But I’d repressed it…that kind of rage isn’t ladylike, and showing it was definitely not accepted in my Asian culture. I also had some really big conflicting emotions since I was raised in a conservative Christian household and the person I was most angry with was God. So @#$%^&* angry at God. And Dan for leaving me. And my Dad for not being there to advise me through this. And Mom for being unavailable to mother me due to her own grief. And the world for not understanding me. And myself. So f@#$%^ angry at myself. I’m a fixer. There is no problem I can’t solve. And now when it mattered most, I had failed to solve two big ones back to back. I couldn’t save my Dad. And no matter what I did I couldn’t save Dan. No wonder I was struggling with anxiety–I HATED both God and myself and felt guilty about it. Angry at the divine and the divine within. Damn.
Once I acknowledged the anger I was able to move forward with forgiveness. If you hate Frozen, I’m sorry, but I had to Let It Go. Forgiving was hard. I forgave God for all the suffering he rained down on my family and for killing the two men I loved most in the world. I forgave my family and friends for not understanding me or for disappearing after the funeral. I forgave the person who kept manipulating me to get more money. I forgave everyone. It took a long time but, eventually, I even forgave myself.
So did hypnotherapy work? I’d say so. In combination with my grief counseling and Reiki, I was able to move through things a lot faster. Hypnotherapy helped me bring down my self-constructed barriers to get to the root of the problem, and I’m glad I tried it. And no, I’m not getting sleepy. If anything, I’m more awake than ever before.
The Wandering Widow
P.S. I lucked out with a great personal referral, but if you’re interested in trying it visit the National Board For Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists to research hypnotherapists in your area.