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Good Grief….what is that?


Do you feel grief and loss for the health and life you used to have before the fatigue?  

Grief is such a complex experience. I say experience as it is far more than just an emotion. Grief is a process and it can be hugely transformative but this involves conscious awareness. In fact, many healers speak of doing ‘grief work’.

Sadly, and unexpectedly, my mother-in-law passed away on Thursday last week. While, she is not my own mother I have known her for 22 years and her passing has brought up many layers of grief. I’m sad that I didn’t see her much before she died. I’m sad for my husband and his family. I’m sad for my children. Also, her passing has brought up the death of my father when I was 22 (the same year that my mother-in-law had a massive stroke that left her trapped in a body that didn’t work so well and left her without a voice). So, mostly, I’m sad for last 22 years of her life where she was just a shell of her former self. As my husband said, it’s like there were two deaths. The ‘normal’ Teresa died when she had a stroke and the Teresa who she became after the stroke left this world last week.

So I was thinking about the experience of grief and ‘grief work’ which ultimately involves a process of acceptance and re-framing to be able to create new meaning and to stop resisting and being stuck in the sadness and frozenness of the grief. This can be very difficult to do, especially when we try to do this on our own. Yet, it can also be hugely transformative and allow healing that didn’t seem possible.

When I was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome in 2013 (after two years of exhaustion) I was already grieving the loss of the experience of the mother I had thought I would be. I could barely do the basics let alone meet the earth mother/attached parent expectations I had held up for myself. In the 3 years following that I grieved my old life and my ‘normal’ body many times. I felt a deep loss of my capacity to just spontaneously go for a walk or join friends for an adventure (yes, having two young children threw a massive curve ball in there but it was mostly the fear I would crash that meant I would overthink every decision I had to make around how I was going to spend my very limited energy).

I lost out on a social life. I lost out on being the mother who runs and plays with her children with ease. I lost the experience of being an avid sportswoman. I lost friendships because over the 5 years in total that I was at my worst there were those who just didn’t understand. I lost my peace of mind, my confidence, my joy and, in many ways, my freedom.

So if you are currently in this place I want to acknowledge you and your grief, sadness and loss and to let you know that I’m so sorry it’s so difficult.  

However, unlike my poor mother-in-law who really was trapped in her situation, I truly believe that for those who experience chronic fatigue and burnout this doesn’t have to be your forever experience. Even if it has been a very long-time experience.

As you’ll see in this post I wrote about ‘grief work’ and as I learnt from my own experience of losing my father and losing my health there is great transformation and healing that is possible through grief and loss.

My father’s death started me on a journey back to myself and as a spiritual seeker and this has fundamentally shaped who I am today. Working through my anger towards him enabled me to shift my relationship to myself and to finally grieve the many ways in which he was a wonderful dad as much as he was difficult and absent. And this helped me to accept myself as both good and bad.

With my Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome grieving and surrendering into my exhaustion helped me to hear the message my body was sending me – that I was living my life in a way that was not in alignment with my health and truth. And from there flowed so much transformation and abundance.

And healing.

Because I could only heal when I stopped resisting and started allowing my experience. This then created space for something new to unfold.

But this transformation can only happen when we first recognise and allowing the grief, loss and sadness. It happens when we move through it instead of suppress or resist it. It happens when we allow it to be both terrible but also maybe something more.

What could this look like for your in your own relationship to your lost health? Could there be a gift in this? Is it possible that as difficult and sad as it is that maybe there is a new way that is trying to make itself known to you?

As for my mother-in-law we’ll have to do the grief work in the time to come and accept that she was dealt with a very unfair hand in the last 22 years of her life. But she was also a fighter and had a wicked sense of humour and somehow found a way to go on. And now Teresa is finally free. I’m not sure what happens on the other side but I imagine that she has found her lost voice and a body that works and she is dancing joyfully while swearing and shouting joyfully at the top of her lungs to release all that frustration and powerlessness that she could never express!

Leave me a comment below if you can resonate with experiencing grief, or if you feel that this makes no sense at all, or if you want to know more about how to go forwards, or if you have any other comments or questions for me…..


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