In the early days of loss, I experienced every emotion as the devastating sadness of losing Chloe. Losing her certainly was my entire landscape and tears were necessary. After reading Peter Levine's book, Waking the Tiger, I began to realize something else was happening. When animals experience trauma they shake until they have expelled the trauma and then move on. People don't do that very well. I didn't even realize what was happening. In sudden death there is a shock that paralyzes and shuts down many parts of our body and soul. We do not have a natural response such as animals do.
One day as I started to descend into a deep collapse, sobbing endlessly, unable to lift my head off my yoga mat, I saw it. I was expelling the trauma, the deep shock that had been lodged inside me. It's not that the tears weren't also for my loss, but it was important for me to recognize and separate out the emotions of sadness and trauma. It is the reason it was crucial to allow myself to shake, sob and release. As I started to differentiate the two, my moments of tears began to have more distance between them.
I also began to see that I was pinning all of my emotions on Chloe. If I drove out of my lane on a Monday headed for work and felt sadness, I would think I was missing her. As I dug a little deeper I remembered how the transition into the work week had always been difficult for me. Now if I feel that way, I just say, "Oh, it's Monday." The same is true when I am tired. I immediately think I'm sad until I become more aware and can say, "I'm really just tired."
Separating out emotions is important in helping us see that our lives are not necessarily consumed with grief, but there are other experiences that we mistakenly call sadness over our loss. Now when I feel a sinking or sad feeling in my heart, I start questioning myself, "Are you tired or hungry? Is there something you are facing that is causing a heaviness inside you? What, about my day might have brought up this emotion.?" I can usually identify where it started or is coming from. If it leads back to my deep loss, I honor that moment with tears, spending time in the woods, or writing out my feelings. This awareness has helped me to be less consumed with grief.