Let’s take a backward approach to this life lesson.
Sometimes to understand how you arrived at a location it is helpful to trace your steps backwards.
Grief is the natural healing process for trauma. Trauma is the automatic emotional (hurt and fear) and physical reactions we experience when our mind imagines or recalls (i.e. memory) a bad day, week, month or year from our past, present and even future.
I buried two of my infant children during the course of my life. That event is over. That event is in the past. That event will never change. My kids will always be dead and I will have always attended their funerals. The event of their deaths and the other events associated with their deaths are permanently etched into my history.
Sometimes I watch the movie what would it be like if Dakota and Kyle had not died. I sometimes wonder what Kyle and Dakota would be like as people I watch my living children live out their lives.
Would Kyle have liked baseball as much as Cade loves baseball?
Would Dakota have cheered and done pageants like Sierra?
I also experience panic when I am worried that my living children could be injured or killed. When my mind recalls the deaths of my children or wonders what they would have been like I can and often do experience trauma.
Unlike the crisis events of their deaths, trauma is experienced in the present time. I may recall a memory, experience an “in the moment thought” or worry about the future yet my trauma is present time. I experience the pain and panic and the physical reactions like stiff muscles, shortness of breath, tight chest NOW. We grieve for the purpose of lessening the effects of the present time, in the moment, NOW trauma.
Grief, the healing process of accepting broken attachments and loss, is the ONLY way we can effectively lessen the pain and panic of trauma. Grief is a process by which we come to grips with and accept the crisis events that have destroyed our lives. We learn to recalibrate our world view to accommodate for the new information: babies die. Grief is not only cognitive, in that we must learn to integrate the events into the fabric by which we take in and understand the world, we must also assign a meaning to the healing process we engage for the purpose of soothing the pain of loss and broken dreams.
By accepting the loss and applying meaning to our decision to heal, we move WHY did the crisis event hit my life to HOW am I going to respond to the results of that crisis.
For me, I have accepted that my children have died. It is a matter of fact. Medically their hearts would not sustain their life. The meaning I have associated to healing from my loss, broken attachments to my children, shattered dreams of raising them, joy of knowing them as people, is that I can honor their lives by sharing my healing experiences, writing, hosting my radio show and using my life to make a difference in the lives of other grievers.
The meaning that I associate to my healing from the loss of my children is self-sustaining. Each time I speak about grief or write about grief or counsel a client on grief or meet someone in a hospital ER who thinks that death is a better option than grieving, I build upon my own healing.
I honor Kyle and Dakota by dedicating my life to the pursuits of helping others to help themselves. Helping other people live mentally well. Helping others to find psychological fitness and meaning in their losses and broken attachments.
I have moved from WHY to HOW by simply focusing on my mission which is what gives meaning to my healing and my grieving.