The soul cannot forgive until it
is restored to wholeness and health.
In the absence of love - how can one forgive?

With an abundance of love, starting with one's self,
forgiveness becomes a viable opportunity.
-Nancy Richards

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Remembering to Mourn

I've always had difficulty with mourning.

Often, when I find myself entering a new phase of healing, such as with my current life transition, I take note of the healing foundation I've already developed. I use my old ground work as a blueprint to guide me and a base on which to build from there.

It has taken a great deal of hard work to re-wire my brain, heart, and psyche in order to rid myself of my PTSD, dissociation and to change the old unhealthy internal messages, feelings and responses with new healthy internal messages feelings and responses. Although I am relieved that my abuse no longer feels present, I know that some of the effects of my abuse will linger for the rest of my life. I am after all, the culmination of all my experiences both good and bad, healed and unhealed.

In times of stress, it sometimes feels natural to go on "auto-pilot" and to fall back on old wiring and survival instincts, rather than remembering to "stay awake at the wheel" and to use my new tools. Of all the healing lessons I've learned - such as validating my pain, exercising self-care, expressing my feelings, and releasing my anger - mourning has always been the most difficult for me. Being able to mourn entails "remembering" to do what is unnatural for me; to remain "present" with my feelings (see What? I Can Feel This?).

After spending a few weeks carrying around unresolved sadness, I've been searching my healing toolbox to help me mourn the losses I'm currently feeling.

I've heard a number of times over the years about a technique that entails giving ourselves 5 minutes each day to mourn, and then to "drop it" and go about our day. I always thought that was a ridiculous notion. How can we mourn huge losses in just five minutes during a day?

For many years, I looked at this exercise as a "limiting," "get over it" sort of suggestion. That is - until I tried it and it worked! The difference is that when I tried it, I approached this exercise from a another perspective. I didn't look at it as only allowing myself 5 minutes a day, and then "dropping it," but rather committing myself to at least five minutes a day of "dedicated" mourning.

In other words, rather than carrying un-mourned sadness around with me all day, I sat down, and dedicated myself to mourning. I was amazed at how much this dedicated mourning helped to release my sadness and then I didn't carry it around all day.

Since I have difficulty mourning, I need rituals to help me mourn. The most helpful exercise for me is to tell myself, "It's time to mourn." I go into a quite room and choose music that lends itself to "touching" my sadness. Then I hold out my hand - palm up, close my eyes, and picture my heart gently cradling my loss in the palm of my hand (person, place, thing). I let the music and my feelings guide me as I cry, mourn, and honor this loss.......


Just Be Real said...

Nancy, how ironic you post about this topic, as this is just what I am going through now in my phase of my journey (all on my blog). Except I call them 'waves of saddness" which come through out the day. More than 5 minutes though, but it does me good. Thank you for sharing dear one.

healandforgive said...

Oh, I'm so sorry it is a time of sadness for you as well.

I'm glad you are able to be present with your pain, and continue to heal.

jumpinginpuddles said...

Mourning is difficult to do qwhen you ahve bene told never to cry, but if you cna overcome old messages to find a way to mourn it can be the most cleasing and freeing thing you cna ever do

Paul from Mind Parts said...

What a wonderful opening quote from Nancy Richards. So true. And what a thoughtful post. You seem to be in a really good place: you are aware. Congratulations!

healandforgive said...

JIP, So true!

I was "punished" for crying as a child. Even when my dad died, (I was nine)my mom slapped me for crying at his funeral.

It has been very hard for me to learn to "cry," but like you said - very freeing as well.

Thanks for your comment!

healandforgive said...


Thanks for stopping by, and for your thoughtful comments!

Maire said...

Hi, Nancy -

My experience echoes yours -- I have found that allowing myself to mourn as I'm falling asleep (or wake up in the middle of the night) is good for me. When I mourn the loss of a person, I really allow myself to remember them and miss them.

Thanks for putting it into practical terms for us!

- Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

healandforgive said...

Hi Marie,

Thank you for sharing your experience. I just visited your blog and I love your discussions on boundaries!!


Kira said...

Nancy - this post is very timely for me. I am struggling with emerging memories. I find myself waging battle to put these thoughts away and yet they float in my periphery all day. I had not considered giving "in" but only for a set amount of time. I think this idea is going to be helpful for me.
Thank you so much for your post(ings).

healandforgive said...


You're welcome!

I hope that "giving in" to some dedicated mourning helps to release your pain.

Karen said...

Hi Nancy,

I'm so sorry to hear of this place that you are in. How wonderfully different, though, you are responding to this pain. I am so grateful that you have learned to take care of yourself like this. You will benefit greatly in your relationships with those in your life right now (which you probably already know).

Thank you for sharing with us and allowing us to be here for you. You've been an encouragement to me so many times with your writings. I'm glad to return the favor. :)

healandforgive said...

Thank you so much Karen!

Marj aka Thriver said...

Sounds like taking time out to meditate. Makes sense, really. I hope allowing yourself to mourn leads to even further healing for you.

healandforgive said...

Thanks Marj!

Anonymous said...

this is so wonderful. i like how you point out the importance of a shift between seeing that mourning exercise as allowing yourself "only" 5 minutes, to thinking of it as committing yourself to at least 5 minutes. perspectives like this make such a difference in how these tools can help or hinder us depending on how we see them.

i really appreciate you giving specific details on your mourning process too. it's nice to know a way someone has found for accessing those feelings.

thank you again so much for sharing your wisdom and healing experience.

healandforgive said...

perspectives like this make such a difference in how these tools can help or hinder us depending on how we see them.

So true! The distinction between "only" and "at least" was a light-bulb moment for me. Thanks MM!

Patricia Singleton said...

When I know that I need to cry, I will watch a movie or TV show that I know will have me crying before the end.

healandforgive said...

Great suggestion Patricia!

VICKI IN AZ said...

Thank you for this specific concrete doable suggestion!!
I am so peaceful in my heart knowing that this will help me at the place I am in.

healandforgive said...

Hi Vicki,

You are so welcome!

I'm glad you find this helpful on your journey.

BTW, I stopped by and read your beautiful new blog.

Welcome to bloggersphere!