- Lexi Stead
How Important it is to Grieve
As some of you know I took a spur of the moment trip to California a couple weeks ago. It wasn't a vacation. I went to say goodbye to my paternal grandmother who went into hospice. She is still with us physically but mentally she is already in another reality. She thinks she is a child who will be going home soon to work in the cotton fields for 50cents a week and bake for the church. She still has her sense of humor, as she kept reminding me that when she was a kid no body went to a hospital for anything and now as she says, " you get a grey hair, you go to the hospital." It was really nice to hear her laugh.
She was always very religious and read her bible multiple times a day. She doesn't seem to have a concept of religion anymore but she still says, "Thank God," for everybody and everything. So many with dementia, when they don't have their jobs or well developed personas to hide behind anymore, become angry and bitter as they are only left with their emotions that they had been carrying all along with no way to hide them anymore. My grandmother has remained grateful and kind and even though she knows she has a body that doesn't function anymore she is still bright and playful and ready to go to heaven to be with her beloved Jesus.
I thought I would go reminisce with her, tell her how much I love her, cry for the day and be done. It was wonderful seeing her as it has been 15years since I had seen her last. When I was a kid she lived right behind us and I spent nearly every day after school and most weekends with her until I was about 8yrs old. She made the best tamales and tortillas I've tasted to this day. She taught me how to sew a button hole, hem, embroider and knit. She showed me how to wash laundry on a washboard and blow the yolk out of an egg and fill it with confetti for a fun colorful game of smashing eggs on each other's heads. And the one thing she stated over and over, which is now forever imprinted on my brain was..."All boys have AIDS". Yes, that was grandma doing her best to make sure we stayed away from boys and lived a pure life.
I had a list of things I wanted to say to her in person that I thought would be acknowledged and give me closure. When I held her hand and saw the absent look in her eyes I knew that she didn't remember me and all I wanted to say went out the door. There was only love for her and that was what she needed most. I thought just seeing her and spending time with her was enough for me to have grieved and I could move on the next day. What I didn't realize at the time was I didn't really grieve at all. I had shut off my process when other family members I was with at the time needed me to be strong and hold everything together and support them. I have always done that in the family, put myself last to emotionally support everyone else. I have become so aware this past year that it surprised me how quickly and naturally I fell right back into that role for a few days.
The day I returned home I came down with a virus that night (or so I thought it was a virus). Over the next couple of days I got the worst sore throat in the history of sore throats, where my tonsils quickly blistered and bled and I had aching fevers. Luckily, I had some antibiotics on hand as I woke up in the middle of the night and knew very quickly that I needed to take them immediately. My entire neck felt bruised and stiff. I ended up going to my physical therapist, who is also a healer, as my neck actually became out of alignment causing my jaw to lock up. She helped to set my physical body straight and unblock the energy in the throat so it could flow again allowing the inflammation to calm down. This illness seemed out of the blue and very violent. Very strange for me.
As I was doing a meditation and healing session a few days later it came to me that I had stopped the energy flow in my body when I abruptly stopped my natural grieving process. I didn't communicate with myself or others about what I was feeling, I didn't say what I wanted to say to my grandmother and other family members, I didn't even allow myself to shed anymore tears as I knew I was everyone else's rock. For someone like me who has a very energetically and physically sensitive body this was a traumatic shock as to how I have been allowing my emotions to evolve and move through the past year. Your throat chakra (tonsils) are your center for communication. When communication is needed but not allowed that is where illness will attack. That is where the energy is blocked and the body weakens. Sore throats are very unusual for me which showed me just how badly I needed to allow this grieving process.
I will probably not get the chance to see my grandmother again in this life, nor would she be able to give me the closure and recognition that I wanted so badly. I have instead allowed the waves of emotion to move through me and have been writing letters to say what I need to say so that I can make that peace within me. When the time is right and my grieving is complete I will take these letters and thank them for all the healing they have allowed me and burn them. Burning these kinds of letters, for me, signifies a completion and a transformation, releasing the old patterns and making room for the new.
How important is it to grieve? VERY!!
Allowing your own needs and emotions to come first is the kindest gift you can give anyone, especially yourself. In hind sight had I not held on so strong but instead allowed my grieving to just unfold, that may have actually helped the others as I think it would have given them a kind of permission and support in allowing themselves to completely let go as well.
Love & Light,