I Was Too Tired, Hurt and Scared to Grieve
By Julie E. Kallio

First, my support, love, healing words and thoughts to all people who have personally been deeply affected by the events at New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon in Washington, and all over the world.

The death that devastated me in December, 1972, just 4 days before my 32nd birthday was by natural causes instead of in the manner of the people killed in and around the World Trade Center this past September 2001. Yet, the mental and emotional pain was unbearable. I decided that I wouldn't talk with one of my sisters or brothers because they were feeling bad too. My mother who suffered with Alzheimer's disease thought that the person in the casket was her father, who died in 1957.

Although there was one brief moment when she looked at him in the casket she remarked, "This isn't Poppa." (She meant her father who'd died in 1957.) "This is Eldredge," meaning my father. The tears that had already begun to stream down my face, despite my efforts to stop them, increased with her
last words. I probably would've bawled loudly except as I returned to my seat after I viewed my father's body my eyes met the stares of many of the people.

For a few seconds I experienced their looks as sympathetic, until mentally I heard my maternal grandmother's mark sound in my head, "Tut-tut, stop that fuss." Though she'd been dead since the early 60's sometimes her stern comments would still ring in my mind. I stopped my tears as I began to feel that I was making a fool of myself. Then my self-depreciating talk kicked in and I began to feel as if I were making a fool of myself. I hastily turned off my faucet of tears.

At that moment my grief went away. It was gradually replaced with overwhelming feelings of exhaustion that I couldn't understand. My feeble attempts to try to explain it to my friends and siblings failed. They either thought I was making a fuss over nothing. Or, they thought by my being a
counselor I'd understand [what it meant] when I'd say, "I'm very tired, no more like completely exhausted and I feel if I could only just dangle loosely from a string like a puppet I'd feel better."

They didn't get it and neither did I. One day, just about a week before the first anniversary of my father's death I almost blew it. It was November, 1973, and just a few days before the December anniversary of my father's death. I was the Director of a residential treatment program for alcoholics.
I was in my office catching upon my paper work when a client in the residential program stopped at my door, knocked poked his head and proceeded to ask me a question.

Thank goodness I caught myself and stopped myself from answering with a shout, "Look, I'm busy. Please take your piddling problems out of my office." Instead, I replied with a soft voice that surprised me, "Ah....ah....give me a few minutes and I'll...ah, come get you."

He turned left, and said, "Okay."

I arose from my chair, closed my door and I began to cry and cry. I was physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted that I didn't know what to do. My friends and a few co-workers had expressed concern about me, but I managed to "pooh-pooh" it and put on my "cheerful blue bird face."

I knew that with what almost happened I needed to do something because my life was going down the tube fast. The moment I seriously, for the first time allowed myself to entertain the thought of getting help I honestly felt my energy rise about 1/16 above the muck and mire. I followed through
and rummaged through my desk drawer to retrieve the business card of a therapist whom I heard make a presentation the previous week at a conference I'd attended. I liked his style and I was also impressed with the way he shared about himself.

I called him, made an appointment to see him the following week and I kept the appointment. I agreed to enter into one of his therapy groups and to attend a workshop the upcoming Saturday. He used what was a fairly new therapy in the early 70's, Transactional Analysis (TA) combined with Gestalt
Therapy. Both involved strong participation by the client and I liked that approach. As it turned out he was facilitating a Saturday workshop for people already in one of his groups, and others like me who were interested in beginning. I agreed I'd attend the all day workshop.

Jim's workshop was great. It consisted of both didactic teaching in relaxed manners, plus opportunities for us to get some therapy, if we wanted. And, though I didn't know it before hand, I soon learned that the emotional part of me was virtually drained of energy. At the conclusion of Jim using black boards and his own style to do some teaching, he was ready to include some
therapeutic work for anyone who wanted to participate.

He asked his standard question to introduce it was now time for therapy, "Who wants to work?"

I shocked myself when my hand immediately flew up and I replied, "I do."

My work began at that workshop and continued with me following up in one of his therapy groups that met for 2 hours 2 times per month. I remained in the group for a little over a year and I grew and grew as I began to get in touch with my buried emotions. And the more emotionally alive I became the less exhausted and tired I felt. Very importantly, in that first session I'd gained enough energy to work healthfully, grieving my father's death. The rest of my time in the group I worked with and resolved many issues. In the process I learned and became strong, taking care of my physical, mental,
emotional and later the spiritual part of me emerged. This aspect helped me to realize that there was a lot more to me, all of us as humans, than we know.

I learned that grief work takes a lot of energy and it's ongoing. Mine started with the death of my father, yet I also needed to grieve the death of my grandparents, aunt, change of childhood to adolescence, adolescence to adulthood, and the demise of my first marriage are only a few. I soon
learned that grief and moving on are important parts of everyday life as is food, clothing, water, loving, being loved and most importantly Spiritual Health....whatever are one's beliefs.

Finally, I conclude here by sharing another process that I learned during a different workshop, facilitated by a psychologist, university professor and warm human being. His name was Dr. John P. Brantner, PhD.; 1921-1987. He was a remarkable and colorful person who cared much about people. He frequently spoke on death, grief, etc.. One of the things that prompted me to write
about this was one of the last occasions that I heard him talk. He addressed the issue that sometimes people are too tired to grieve. Their energy has been drained to the maximum dealing with the illness of the person who died by natural causes or drained from the shock of an unexpected death by murder, suicide, or where the body was never found, etc.

When he was called upon to help individuals, family groups, etc., he specifically didn't expect them to begin their grieving just because he was present. Instead he accepted "where they were, physically, mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually with themselves and death."

He'd learned that they did better if they just talked. It didn't matter what they talked about, because he knew that in time they'd reach points whereby they had recouped enough of their energy to begin grieving.

The lighter time was needed and it didn't matter how long it took for any person to shift into finally having enough of their own energy to begin grieving. Sometimes people avoid grief because it's too painful as it was in my case. I learned, as many others have and will continue to learn, the
energy to grieve needs to be available. If it isn't the person's process for grieving is likely to be more painful than it would be if the energy were present. It's okay to give oneself and other's time. Yes, you and others may never do it and that will be what you're asking yourself to live with daily.

Remember, at anytime a person can shift into getting on with grieving and letting go of the pain, exhaustion, uncertainty, etc. It's up to each individual's process.



Author Biography
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