Saturday, April 5, 2014

PLEASE SHUT UP . . . getting too much positive advice? Dare to feel.

Kevin Md, this week, featured an article,  

The dreadful cost of denying how you really feel

He began with a link to a Guardian article entitled “Smile! You’ve Got Cancer” written by Barbara Ehrenreich.  
 After the link, Dr. Kumar mentions that his grandmother died of cancer when he was  young.  He then focuses on what he has witnessed working in the ER/ED when there is a death and friends and relatives react.  He describes reactions that suggest the basic steps of grief.  But he got me when he notes "And some try to prevent others from expressing their grief/anger/disbelief."    

 So often in after a death or a diagnosis of impending death, someone or several someones say:  It's going to be alright.  But in fact, they have no idea that it will be.   I'm digressing here, but I want to point out that millions in 12-Step programs have found recovery in the three A's:  Awareness, Acceptance, Action.  Nothing there about denying how you feel.

From what I've seen, some people are very frightened when we suddenly express how angry we are, even at a loved one's death. I'm sure they're afraid of their own anger popping out.  But back to Dr. Kumar's story. 

He then tells us more about his grandmother's death.  He had lived with her briefly as a little child, then moved to the states.  When he was in 7th grade in this new country, she died of cancer.  He remembers not knowing what to do or feel, and gradually losing touch with the death. (This had to resonate with me, because I was about that age and basically frozen, when my grandmother died.  I was even unable to react to my beloved childhood baby sitter when she came to the viewing.)

Years later, he tells of going back to India, suddenly remembering her death, and being overcome an amazing outburst of grief and recurring sadness.  But wait, there's more.

Writing now about the grief, he says:   The amazing thing is, I felt like a new person after that evening. I felt like I was meeting myself for the first time. I certainly know I would be a different physician today were it not for that evening.

That is the part I don't dare to forget when I am afraid to take Henry Dreher's advice, or James Pennebaker's advice - to write, express my memories and emotions around trauma, to be healed.  

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have that feeling of meeting myself for the first time!



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