Silent Grievers - The book

I am writing a book...

Why I decided to write this book?

First, I think and hope it might be helpful for others. I was encouraged and inspired by those whom I told about my journey. They all said that I gave them hope and that my insights helped them to see things differently. So I got to the point that I would share them with a wider audience. Losing a beloved one (parents, a partner, a child, even a pregnancy) is devastating - life will never be the same again. Still, the sun rises the following day too, and I believe that hope is a built-in feature in humans, sometimes we just forget about it and we have to dig deep to find it.

Second, I want to give back and be part of the information flow. While going through the process of grief I learned a lot, did a great deal of research in the anatomy of grief from different perspectives, tried many things because I wanted to get better. I found that literature about grief is pretty extensive, however, there are tons of theory with grams of practical advice (how-tos), and this was something I missed very much. When you are suffering, especially when you are stuck in the process you want relief, not just promises that it will be better with time. Time itself does not solve much of the problems - we have to do some (a whole lot of) inner work for getting results. I discovered that there is actually a lot that I can do for myself day by day, and grief can be turned into a spiritual experience and an opportunity for growth, even for those who are not that much conscious about spirituality. During this process I got lots of help from wonderful people around me and from the Universe - I just want to give it back in the form of sharing what I found and I hope it will help others to heal.

What's in it?

Grief does not know any timetable. If you are not done with it within a year, you are not alone.

Grief is a form of love - the connection does not die with the person. Each grief is unique, even for the very same griever. Life will never be the same again – and it is OK to feel this way. Actually, it is OK to feel anything the griever feels: pain, anger, guilt, shame, blame, even loss of faith.

We grieve as we are. Grief does not change our personality, it brings to the surface our deepest personality traits that might have been hidden or we have never been conscious about. Also, we „learned” how to grieve from our family. Thoughts that make us suffer did not get into our mind from anywhere. David Kessler’s motto is „Pain is inevitable – suffering is optional”. Knowing ourselves and digging deeper into our family history may help a lot in understanding where we are and why we are there. These inherited patterns can be changed, and we have the choice to do it differently (while honoring the ancestors’ journey).

Grief is a process of letting go: letting go of dreams of a future that will never be as they planned, expectations that will never be met, and the illusion that we can control every aspect of our lives – hard stuff. We also need to let go of the strong desire of changing the past to be able to get back to the present.

By the end of this book, you may have more self-awareness, understanding of where you are now and why you are exactly there, and hopefully, more peace with the past (your own story), more self-respect and acceptance.

The key steps of the journey are different levels of understanding I gained on my own journey that I am sharing here – the aim of Ch. 1 and 2 is to get you out of the feeling of isolation („there is something wrong with me”, „others do it better”) and understand that what you are going through is actually normal, just part of the process. In Ch. 3 I will show you the path and guide you through areas you can work on to understand your unique journey and make the most out of it.

1 Myths and reality about grief

Why do we need 50,000 books about grief – cultural background of grief in our age and society vs. how traditional communities handled grief without any books, different approaches (psychology, religion), new directions in scientific research (positive psychology) - in a nutshell. 

1.1 The anatomy of grief

Different kinds of losses that we naturally react to with grief, the characteristics of grief, the difference between grief (what happens inside) and mourning (what we do outside). This is a universal human experience although unique to each one of us.

1.2 Frozen in time

Where we can get trapped and why + common questions (why did it happen, why to me, what did I do wrong, what should I have done differently, etc. ) and associated feelings (guilt, shame, loneliness, anger, loss of faith) - the source of these feelings.

2 The mourning year - The beginning of the journey

Although the mourning year is over the feelings we can get trapped in are present from the first moment. The techniques described here can be applied any time during the process since they belong to an area of the soul for which time stopped or goes in circles.

2.1 My story

The sudden and unexpected death of my 48-year-old husband - Facts and feelings up to the funeral, survival strategies; rituals in the first months; what helps and what does not; self-care rituals

2.2 Life goes on

The challenges of the first year - surviving the firsts (first birthdays, first Christmas, first New Year, etc.), dealing with waves of grief.

Feelings to deal with (let go of): guilt, anger, blame. Loneliness, inadequacy

3 Mourning finished, grief goes on – turning grief into a spiritual journey

This is the core chapter on how to turn grief into a spiritual journey and use it as a path to self-knowledge and growth. These exercises can also be done during the mourning year but are especially helpful for those who lost someone years ago and still experience setbacks. This chapter will be mostly about how I went through the process, what I found, what techniques I used for the different stages. It will focus on feelings and thoughts that are common to each of us as human beings.

3.1 Looking into the mirror

Who was I before the loss and who I am now? What is my relationship with myself like?

The goal is to help you to get aware of the relationship between thoughts and feelings, to recognize thought patterns and personality traits that were there before, grief just brought them to the surface.

3.2 Where I am now and how did I get here?

My roots, family history, the journey so far, losses in the family, and how my family handled them in the past.

Our goal here is to discover that there is a context for everyone's life, identifying turning points in one's life, discovering that we all follow patterns inherited from our ancestors and that we all learned them. And what is not inherent in our nature but learned can be changed :). 

3.3 Creating an inventory - what is lost and what is left

This is a very important step because it will reveal hidden unhealed areas like dreams or expectations concerning the future and here is where a shift can happen by realizing that there are many things left.

3.4 The relationship with the lost one

What was it like, how we changed in the relationship, creating a book of memories and a legacy

3.5 Limitations and freedom

What I cannot control and what I can (I cannot change the past but I can give it a meaning, I cannot change my feelings and thoughts as they pop up, but I learned how to give them a different direction)

3.6 How to give up fighting with myself – acceptance, self-compassion, and forgiveness

3.7 Legacy - Creating a meaning for the story

4 Beyond grief - Continued connections