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The A-Z Blogging Challenge - G for Grief

By Mia


Grief is a universal human experience and is a complex emotional response to loss, and can encompass a range of emotions such as sadness, guilt, longing, anger, denial, or even numbness.


In this blog post, we consider the multifaceted nature of healing old and new grief as a system. I have included writing from when we were processing our griefs as a system, and some writing about grief from before we knew we were a system to illustrate the complexities and processes we might need to navigate to heal various griefs.


DID and grief


When we have DID, grief, like everything, can be complicated. The fragmented nature of identity and memory can add even more layers of complexity, system members might have differing experiences, attachments, memories, and emotions, making the grieving process diverse and challenging.


Griefs we have experienced include:


  • Grief for people and animals who have passed;

  • Grief for the life that could have been;

  • Grief for the life that was lost by trauma holders stuck in time or dormant;

  • Grief for previous times/places/relationships in our life;

  • Grief for our lost childhoods.


When healing, we can have dramatic system changes which can lead to even more grief:


  • Grief for those system members who have fused with others;

  • Grief for who we were before our systems were revealed;

  • Grief for dormant system members;

  • Grief for other system members as they come and go;

  • Grief for the friends we lose when we discover ourselves.


So, there’s a lot of grief we need to navigate and process when we’re a DID system. And it all needs healing, which isn’t easy when these pains can be so deep, and intertwined with different selves.


Healing old griefs


While healing, we can have identities present who hold really old griefs. Our biggest and oldest is that for our grandfather, Dandan, who died when we were eleven, the day before we started secondary school - so knowing what we know now about our fragmentation, we can only imagine the impact this had upon how our system was functioning then.



Our grandfather was like a father figure to us, he loved us and we loved him, when we were born he was already seventy, and he said to our mum “I just hope she will remember me” (which is now making us cry - we can heal grief in so far as we can make it easier to live with, but that doesn’t take the emotion out of the memories). Obviously, we still remember him, and he’s still an important part of our life, even though he’s been dead for nearly thirty years.


For us, we found writing to be one of the best ways for us to process old pains, and we have written a lot. This was written by me when I was fused with Alex, who held the grief for Dandan:


“Dandan. We miss you so much. We wish you had been here with us. We loved you so much and we know how much you loved us. That’s why it hurts so much. It’s like a vice around my chest. The grip of grief. The consumption. I miss you. I wish you were here. We wouldn’t recognise each other though, you’ve been gone so long. Eleven years together. Twenty-seven apart. I can still see your hands and hear your voice. You gave us a safety that can’t be replicated. A love that we felt so deep. That when it was gone, the void was too much to bear. Without you in our life we’ve suffered. We needed you and you left us.”


It hurts to read, but it also helps to connect with the pain and the grief, for those who’ve died, grief is just love with nowhere to go.


While healing Alex’s pain, I was writing a lot of poetry, here are two of my poems about grief.


Thank you, grief

By Mia Alex


Grief is funny

It doesn’t hurt

It dulls and pulls

Takes the joy

Gravity is stronger

You can feel it weighing down your heart

It pulls you down so you can’t see

The colours are duller and the excitement gone

For why enjoy when it can’t be with them

Muscles feel heavier

Unable to move

Disabled by the pull down

Down down down

As the body sinks into the emotions

The heart drops further

Feeling like an iron block

The mind sinks down too

It doesn’t see it happen

It slows and stops

Unable to cope

With the heaviness of the body

The sun might shine

But it matters not

The grief doesn’t care

It just keeps pulling

You have to fight

See the joy in life again

Appreciate the colours

Fight the heavy, grey, blanket of grief

Honour their memory

Thank them for the time you had together

Promise to never forget

Even though you know that would be impossible, anyway

Carry the grief like a testament to them

Keep it safe but contained

Thank it for always reminding you of the love you had together

And treasure it

Give it space and time

Indulge it when it shouts too loud

Open it up and allow it to breathe

Let the air and light in

Acknowledge it

Become it

Embrace it

Feel it so deeply that together you are stronger

For it is your friend

It wants to be with you

It wants you to look after it

It wants you to treat it with the love it deserves

It remembers and will never leave

But when it speaks to you

Reminds you of it’s pain

Say thank you and remember a happy memory

Feel the love and share it with the grief


This next one happened, I still remember feeling Alex’s feelings, and making the fries (which all would have probably been forgotten if I hadn’t written about it, our writing solidifies our memories too).


Shine

By Mia Alex


I took

Grief

To the kitchen

Put on

My music

We danced around


We made

Sweet potato fries

I told her

That really

She’s just

Love


U don’t need to

Feel so heavy

She could

Feel lighter

Be brighter

U are actually LOVE


She felt guilty

For feeling happy

That’s ok

But

He wouldn’t

Want u to


His love

Wants to

Shine thru u

Not dull u

She said

Ok


It took months to heal (as best we could) the grief Alex held for Dandan, but, after a lot of crying and a lot of writing, it eventually eased. Alex and I split and she fused with Berlou, they are still together now.


Collectively grieving


Grief as a system can be difficult to navigate, we might have people who have no connection to the grief, or what we’re grieving, and it can be hard to feel something we don’t feel connected to. But, in our experience, we find we all need to connect to a pain for it to be healed, and once it’s shared among ourselves, we can start to let it go.


We need to be patient with those actively feeling the grief, it may impact daily life as we need to provide those suffering with safety, compassion, and time. All feelings are valid, and we need to honour all system members' experiences.


Different selves might have different responses to feelings of grief and can be at different stages too. There may be denial, anger, depression, guilt, shame, ambivalence, or acceptance. It’s important to honour all responses and allow time for each system member to process in their own way.


Due to fragmentation, people might have differing memories of a person from childhood that they are grieving, they might even need to navigate some system members having positive memories about someone, and others only holding trauma memories. This can make grief even more complex and difficult to process. We don’t have direct experience of this, so can’t comment personally, but can imagine the difficulty of navigating.


Things that could help a system navigate such complex experiences might be:


  • Remembering that each identity's perspective is valid and deserving of recognition and support;

  • Having patience for one another's experiences and emotions, allowing everyone the time they need to process and accept each other's experiences, as well as our own;

  • Understanding that healing such complexities will take time, and we might need to revisit different perspectives repeatedly;

  • Finding ways to process the differing emotions and experiences (perhaps contrasting writing or artwork, system members could even collaborate, bringing together their experiences and fostering further integration);

  • Working through these difficulties with a trauma-informed therapist;

  • Sharing experiences with safe family members or friends, or online communities and finding support there;

  • Allowing time to live in the present as well as the past - neglecting our current lives won’t help anyone, and we all need respite from processing trauma, especially when it’s complex and disorienting. Paint, play, cook, work, exercise, binge TV - whatever you enjoy doing, and let the brain and body relax, the healing will still be there later.


Dealing with new grief


One of our most recent ‘big’ griefs was when our dog, Ray, died suddenly aged eight in 2019 - this was after Amber had remembered Berlou’s trauma but before our system was revealed, so is interesting to reflect on.



Amber was working as a massage and myofascial release therapist, and she wrote a blog post seven weeks after his death, these are some excerpts from it:


“I keep thinking this should have stopped by now. How long does grief take? When will it get better? I seem to have a few days being ok, then have a mini Ray breakdown. They vary in their reason, guilt is a regular one “we should have done more before giving up”, “shit dogs, this is so much easier now there’s no Ray - ffs I’m a terrible person for thinking that”.


“I often find myself reliving his death, or thinking about the days running up to it. I see him often, although the regularity is reducing, imagine what he’d be up to if he were still here. He’s eclipsed everything else in my life and it’s still really hard to do things.


“A few days ago a friend shared something about grief on facebook, I don’t remember much of it, except something like that the past and the future stop and your grief is all that there is, that resonated a lot. I can’t really see much future at the moment, it’s hard to, I don’t know what to do to continue building my practice and business because I’ve lost touch with the idea of building a future. I’m too busy being sad.


“When he got poorly, my gut and heart knew he was dying, my head was in complete denial and just kept saying ‘it’s ok, he’ll get better’.


“Since losing Ray, I’ve struggled with working. Both trying to find clients and the actual treatments themselves, at times. The first few weeks were really tough, I tried to still my mind, focus on my hands and heart, but I couldn’t shift out of my own grief, I’d just hear “I can’t do this, I just want to cry”.


A couple of weeks after his death Amber decided she’d had enough of crying, and we now know that she was actively suppressing others in our system. That went badly quickly, and we collectively descended into depression, which is an aspect of grief, but also very different.


She realised this after a few days and permitted the crying to continue, and it did. We cried every day for two or three months, but eventually, it slowed, the pain eased, and we stopped crying.


Allowing the grief to be processed like that meant we did process the grief, and when we found our system Ray Dog Grief was not one of the traumas we had to process, we’d done it already. We can still cry about him, we still miss him, and we still think of him often, but the sadness is bearable, it isn’t consuming, it’s just something we will always live and is now a part of us.


We also lost someone we loved but had had little contact with for many years to Covid during the pandemic. As we went through our healing, and other selves found themselves fronting to share and heal, many of us remembered his death and had to process that grief in their own way. Allowing all system members to grieve was imperative to our healing.


System grief


Systems are fluid and can change dramatically as we heal. We might grieve the person/people we were before we knew about our system. We can grieve different selves as they go through their healing and experience drastic changes - fusion changes us, in our experience we are still aware of the selves that are fused together, but together they are completely different from who they were before, and we can miss those people.


Identities can go dormant which can lead to huge feelings of loss for some system members, and is a very valid grief, that deserves the same compassion, time, and understanding as any other grief.


This blog post is incomplete, we know there’s so much more we could explore, but it’s already really long so I'm just going to wrap up…


Navigating the many aspects of grief when we have DID is challenging, but by working together, honouring all of our separate experiences, and encouraging system-wide empathy and compassion, we can heal and integrate our grief.


Grief is something intricately connected to being human, when we’re fragmented it’s complex, there are layers and it can take a lot of time to process, but we’re resilient, and together we can transform, grow, and heal - as long as we keep feeling, with compassion, patience and empathy, for all of our selves.


~ Mia



2 comentários


Convidado:
15 de abr.

A very poignant, informative, and thought-provoking post. Thank you so much for (re-)sharing these stories with everyone! Best, Torie Lennox

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Respondendo a

Thank you (sorry we just found this by accident we have no idea what we're doing with the website haha). We really appreciate your kind words - Mia and Berlou <3

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