Kim Dixon, BA, MSc, CPS (F) FAMILIES Peer Specialist (&Co.) Area Manager
As a child I lost a favourite pair of red moccasins when I was at the hospital having my tonsils removed. I remember feeling angry and sad without understanding I was grieving a loss.
Today I am faced with the death of my father and I now understand that my feelings of sadness are a normal part of the grieving process.
I have come to understand that we experience loss throughout our lives yet we don’t always acknowledge the losses or create the space to grieve. Around the experience of mental illness whether we are a parent, child, sister, brother, spouse or partner of the mentally ill, we face death-in-life or death-of-life in those we love. Families need to be supported in this grief.
In grief work there is an old saying: “The only way out of pain is through pain.” It doesn’t help us to deny our sadness. We need to admit it is there. Then we can call it up and deal with it a bit at a time. Only when we acknowledge our pain can we begin to take care of it. Sheila LeGacy advises us to take a short time off every day or so just to feel sad. Sheila calls this process of sitting down with your grief “sadness meditation.” It is an exercise in self-awareness that helps us be mindful of our sorrowful feelings.
I have come to understand that we experience loss throughout our lives yet we don’t always acknowledge the losses or create the space to grieve.
This involves finding some privacy for yourself, sitting down and centering on what you are feeling. Close your eyes and breathe in and out deeply and slowly. As you breathe in, say to yourself, “I am aware of my sadness.” As you breathe out, you say, “I know I am sad right now.” What you will find in this, if you keep it going for about 10 minutes, is a bottom to the pain. Even if you cry it does pass. Spending time with yourself in this way is very nurturing.
FAMILIES who have suffered through their grief in this way will tell you that this sorrow ultimately helps them appreciate the joys of existence in a totally new way. When this intensity of sadness strikes it forces us to look at what is happening in our lives, feel the pain, and eventually find peace within. –Kim Dixon, BA, MSC, Area Manager 2017