It is always painful to accept loss.
Whether we are facing the death of a loved one, a failed relationship, the trauma of facing the deteriorating health of a dear one or a violent incident that results in injury, the emotional pain that we experience is what we term as grief.
We may have read of or witnessed those who cope and survive their grieving period after the loss of the death of their loved ones. We may even find ourselves meeting people who move on with their life after a broken relationship by leading a new life.
There are those who experienced the grief and agony of an irreconcilable relationship, accepted the “emotional death” of their loved one and moved on in life with spirit and joy by changing the way they saw themselves and the world.
They inspire us with their courage and their “can do” conviction by overcoming their challenges and leading a happier life.
It was during her “emotional bereavement” (a term that she creatively coined) that I got to know Sandra.
I found the attractive but emotionally shattered woman coping up with the loss of her 15 year old marriage as bravely as she could. Despite her determination in saving her marriage “at any cost”, she could see that the stress and the loneliness was beginning to affect her at a physical level too.
The grief of a failed happy and intense relationship too can possess all the classic symptoms of the 5 steps for coping with the death of a loved one – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.
Sandra initially faced immunity issues with her health and soon she began to face acute hair-loss. But what shook her from the complacency and made her realize that she could not continue with the same attitude regarding her marriage was when she started experiencing Panic Attacks (also known as Anxiety Attack).
Panic Attack creates a severe state of panic or anxiety due to irrational feelings of helplessness and breathlessness. The physical characteristics of this state are acute in their distressing sensations experienced by the person – a pounding heart, trembling and intense helplessness, to name a few.
After the first two incidents of Panic Attack, Sandra shared her disbelief with me. This was something that she had heard of but it was hard for her to accept that she was going through this crises herself.
Her discussions with me would begin in annoyance, then anger followed by expressions of her wishful belief that the broken relationship she had with her husband could be saved through her even more rigorous efforts. This went on, until, one day, she experienced an even more acute Panic Attack that left her feeling worthless and completely isolated.
For several weeks Sandra was distressed, inconsistent and sullen while she spoke. She would lose grip of her composure and control, expressing her distress through crying and self-pity. She spoke of hopelessness and severe feelings of sadness. However, gradually, like the sun that had been behind the clouds for a long time, she started becoming aware of herself and her situation. Sandra began to accept that the relationship she had with her husband was over.
The long years of wait, the efforts to make him happy and smile at her was pointless. He would never be happy with her no matter what she tried to save their marriage.
The grief of the loss of her relationship finally evaporated when she accepted the situation not just completely but without bitterness or indulging in any blame game.
The process of accepting the loss and moving on was painstakingly long for Sandra. Once she decided that she alone had to undertake the unpleasant job of facing the raw realities for what they are, rather than hiding from them or pretending they did not exist, she regained the ability to get back on track.
Today, Sandra continues her life with tenacity and strength. Separated but not divorced, she tells me that she is as happy as she was as a little girl. She enjoys her life today thanks to a major shift in focus. Sandra is kind to herself today unlike in the past when her sole concern was making others happy.
The power of human resilience to face challenges and obstacles is yet again proven to us through Sandra and many unknown Sandras in the world. Their inherent strength and determination triumphs over despair and trauma.
This victory leads them to a happier and completely fulfilling existence.