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FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Grief, Loss, and Closure


Focus On Ourselves
Grief, Loss, and Closure


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The grief process for survivors of an N relationship is complicated and very often confusing. Targets tend to question how in the world they can grieve someone who was abusive to them. However, loss is loss and we all grieve losses in our own way. The emotional connection generally doesn't turn off like a water tap.

This segment of Focus on Ourselves addresses Grief, Loss, and the search for Closure in the aftermath of the relationship with the Narcissist.

GRIEF


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The emotional hooks of a relationship are difficult to break, and part of the grieving process is removal of these hooks. It doesn't come without some pain.

From: Ending an Abusive Relationship
by Patty E. Fleener [sign in to see URL].


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quote:

It is hard to leave a person in your life when you have strong feelings for them and when we leave we suffer a process called "grief." Grief is hard work and it hurts. Not one of us wants to grieve if we don't have to.

However when we have emotionally unhooked ourselves from the person we no longer grieve. We are no longer emotionally involved.

Here are some of the things I have written in my journal:

"I only know IT IS TIME for me to EMOTIONALLY UNHOOK myself from him. NO more crying over him, missing him and putting up with his abuse. Those times are gone BECAUSE I say it is time for those things to be gone…It is time now to EMOTIONALLY UNHOOK MYSELF from him. <notice how I use those words a lot>When I can do that I can see me being FREE and boy that would feel so good - to be in a place where I feel NO MORE PAIN…




Part of grieving is having emotional stress reactions to the separation from the person to whom you've been attached. This is normal, regardless of the nature of the relationship.

From: Leaving An Abusive Relationship
Caring for You and Your Children

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quote:



Grief is a large part of the process of letting go of a relationship. When you feel grief, feel free to let yourself cry. It may feel like you will never stop. Remember, you are facing a death - the death of your relationship and you will stop crying when the mourning is over. You may not understand why you are sad, especially if you were badly abused. There were probably some good things that you will miss. This is the reality. Remember - you did have to pay a price for the good things - a very high price.

Grieving Symptoms
While you are going through the separation, it is normal for you to experience both physical and emotional stress reactions. Physical symptoms you may experience include: sleep disturbances; diarrhea or constipation; nausea; changes in heart rate; menstrual changes; weight gain or loss.

Psychological symptoms may include: sadness, hopelessness or feelings of futility; edginess and being easily irritated; crying often; poor concentration; great difficulty making decisions; and, poor memory. Good physical exercise (i.e. walking, jogging, cycling, etc.) can help you cope.



Gender and Grief


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Men and women grieve and experience loss differently. We have members here of both genders, so an examination of what is 'normal' for each of the genders might help us understand and support each other a little better as we move through the grief process.

She Cries--He Sighs
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This is an interesting article on the differences between how men and women grieve when they lose a child, but I think in general the differences in grieving probably apply to most 'loss' situations. Women cope 'externally'and men internally, but each expect the other to cope the same way.

quote:

HE: "Big Picture"
HE: "Thinks"
HE: "Logical"
HE: "Copes Internally"
HE" "Sighs"

SHE: "Details"
SHE: "Feels"
SHE: "Intuitive"
SHE: "Copes Externally"
SHE" "Cries"




I also think that the woman's tendency to 'tend and befriend' might enter into how we inherently process grief.
 
From: Gender and Grief
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quote:

Women’s role has historically been to nurture and care. Women’s responsibility has been to take care of the vulnerable people in the community. The young, the sick and the elderly are reliant on the nurturing of their caregivers, who are most commonly women. Because of these responsibilities, women too have an intrinsic physiological response to stress - to “tend and befriend” (Taylor etal 2000:411). In times of stress, females respond by nurturing others around them. Women commonly exhibit behaviours that protect the vulnerable from harm. By “befriending”, women “create, maintain and utilise social groups to manage stressful situations” (Taylor etal 2000: P412). Seeking out others as a source of comfort is intrinsic to women’s nature. Often women will become hyper vigilant with their children when they are grieving. This too is an intrinsic physiological response borne from the roles and responsibilities of our ancestors.



"Tend and Befriend" vs. "Fight or Flight" is explained here:

A New Stress Paradigm for Women
"Rather than fighting or fleeing, women may respond to stress by tending to themselves and their young and befriending others."


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quote:

The model, called "tend-and-befriend" by its developers, won't replace fight-or-flight. Rather, it adds another dimension to the stress-response arsenal, says University of California, Los Angeles, psychologist Shelley Taylor, PhD, who, along with five colleagues, developed the model.

In particular, they propose that females respond to stressful situations by protecting themselves and their young through nurturing behaviors--the "tend" part of the model--and forming alliances with a larger social group, particularly among women--the "befriend" part of the model. Males, in contrast, show less of a tendency toward tending and befriending, sticking more to the fight-or-flight response, they suggest.




---
"The best way out is always through."--Robert Frost
Mar/22/2009, 3:09 pm Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Grief, Loss, and Closure


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Here is a very interesting editorial that reexamines the traditional 5 stages of grief that I've reprinted in its entirety. It goes beyond the 5 stages and talks about the Four Tasks of Mourning, otherwise known as "TEAR".

Beware the 5 Stages of "Grief"
Editorial - TLC Group


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Few concepts have insinuated themselves into the popular culture as thoroughly as the so called "5 Stages of Grief": Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. We've heard it from professionals in all areas of the healthcare system (who should know better) as well as from lay persons of all ages (who shouldn't). There is even a lengthy comedy routine about it by Dustin Hoffman playing Lenny Bruce in the movie Lenny. The time has now come to ditch it as the concept has done more harm than good.

Three Common Myths about the 5 Stages

1. The 5 Stages of Grief were defined by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

In her book "On Death and Dying", Macmillan Publishing Company, 1969, she presents 5 stages terminally ill persons may go through upon learning of their terminal illness. She presents them as "an attempt to summarize what we have learned from our dying patients in terms of coping mechanisms at the time of a terminal illness".

These stages were not originally the 5 stages of Grief but better: The 5 Stages of Receiving Catastrophic News. Over the next 28 years, healthcare professionals, clergy, nurses, doctors, caregivers, students, and other readers of the book somehow mutated the stages into the 5 stages of Grief.

2. The 5 Stages define the process a bereaved person must go through in order to resolve their grief.

Grief is a complicated, multi-dimensional, individual process that can never be generalized in 5 steps. In fact, as will be shown, a person will generally have to go through the 5 stages before true grieving can even begin.

3. A person who isn't progressing through the 5 stages in sequence and in a timely manner needs professional help.

This common belief has caused a lot of problems and misunderstandings. One researcher has shown that some caregivers have actually gotten angry at the bereaved person for not following the stages in order! The person shouldn't be Angry yet because they haven't been through Denial.

All of the above points to a basic misunderstanding about what Grief is to begin with so it's not surprising that myths continue to propagate. This is most likely because the pervasiveness and impact of grief wasn't really recognized by the psychological community until around the 1980s and even then it was slow in coming.

For example, in 1974 "The Handbook of Psychiatry" defined Grief as "...the normal response to the loss of a loved one by death." Response to other kinds of losses were labeled "Pathological Depressive Reactions".

In 1984, Dr. Terese Rando---a noted grief specialist, researcher and author---defined Grief as "...process of psychological, social and somatic reactions to the perception of loss".

In 1991, the Grief Resource Foundation of Dallas, Texas found that, for them, a good working and practical definition of Grief as "the total response of the organism to the process of change".

Today, in December 1996, we at TLC Group have come to accept the Grief Response as the Unified Field Theory of All Mental Illness (a subject of another Tip of The Month!)

Curiously, most non-grief specialists commonly accept the definition of grief given in 1974. So what is grief and what produces it? A helpful equation, which proves itself daily in all instances is: Change=Loss=Grief.

This means that:

1. A Change of circumstance of any kind (a change from one state to another) produces a Loss of some kind (the stage changed from) which will produce a Grief reaction.

2. The intensity of the grief reaction is a function of how the change-produced loss is perceived. If the loss is not perceived as significant, the grief reaction will be minimal or barely felt.

3. Significant grief responses which go unresolved can lead to mental, physical, and sociological problems and contribute to family dysfunction across generations.


So, are the 5 Stages without value? Not if they are used as originally intended, as The 5 Stages of Receiving Catastrophic News. One can even extrapolate to The 5 Stages of Coping With Trauma. Death need not be involved.

As an example, apply the 5 stages to a traumatic event most all of us have experienced: The Dead Battery! You're going to be late to work so you rush out to your car, place the key in the ignition and turn it on. You hear nothing but a grind; the battery is dead.

1. DENIAL --- What's the first thing you do? You try to start it again! And again. You may check to make sure the radio, heater, lights, etc. are off and then..., try again.

2. ANGER --- "%$@^##& car!", "I should have junked you years ago." Did you slam your hand on the steering wheel? I have. "I should just leave you out in the rain and let you rust."

3. BARGAINING --- (realizing that you're going to be late for work)..., "Oh please car, if you will just start ONE MORE TIME I promise I'll buy you a brand new battery, get a tune up, new tires, belts and hoses, and keep you in perfect working condition.

4. DEPRESSION --- "Oh God, what am I going to do. I'm going to be late for work. I give up. My job is at risk and I don't really care any more. What's the use".

5. ACCEPTANCE --- "Ok. It's dead. Guess I had better call the Auto Club or find another way to work. Time to get on with my day; I'll deal with this later." This is not a trivial example. In fact, we all go through this process numerous times a day. A dead battery, the loss of a parking space, a wrong number, the loss of a pet, a job, a move to another city, an overdrawn bank account, etc. Things to remember are:

1. Any Change Of Circumstance can cause us to go through this process.

2. We don't have to go through the stages in sequence. We can skip a stage or go through two or three simultaneously.

3. We can go through them in different time phases. The dead battery could take maybe 5 to 10 minutes, the loss of a parking space 5 to 10 seconds. A traumatic event which involves the Criminal Justice System can take years.

4. The intensity and duration of the reaction depends on how significant the change-produced loss is perceived.

It was mentioned above that Grieving only begins where the 5 Stages of "Grief" leave off. Grief professionals often use the concept of "Grief Work" to help the bereaved through grief resolution. One common definition of Grief Work, based on J. William Worden's "Four Tasks of Mourning" as outlined in his book Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy, can be summarized by the acronym TEAR:

T = To accept the reality of the loss

E = Experience the pain of the loss

A = Adjust to the new environment without the lost object

R = Reinvest in the new reality

This is Grief Work. It begins when the honeymoon period is over, the friends have stopped calling, everyone thinks you should be over it, the court case is resolved, "closure" has been effected, and everything is supposed to be back to normal. It's at this point that real grieving begins.

Notice that the first step of Grief Work is ACCEPTANCE, the last stage of the 5 Stages of Grief. Let's throw out the 5 stages of grief and replace it with a greater understanding of Grief Recognition and Resolution.




---------------------------------------------------------------------

TLC Group grants anyone the right to use this information without compensation so long as the copy is not used for profit or as training materials in a profit making activity such as workshops, lectures, and seminars, and so long as this paragraph is retained in its entirety.


---
"The best way out is always through."--Robert Frost
Mar/22/2009, 3:10 pm Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Grief, Loss, and Closure


Loss and Closure


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In recovering from a relationship with a Narcissist, a survivor may experience shame, a crisis of confidence, and loss of hope. Bouncing back from this devastation is further complicated by the nature of the loss. It can be termed an 'ambiguous loss' since there is usually a lack of closure associated with it which prolongs the recovery process. Pauline Boss has written several books on this type of loss, stressing the importance of acceptance of the loss as an ambiguous one. Instead of focusing on closure in ambiguous loss situations, she focuses on the importance of resilence in recovery.

On Ambiguous Loss
From: Pauline Boss, author of Loss, Trauma, and Resilience
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quote:

With ambiguous loss, there is no closure. The challenge is to learn how to live with the ambiguity.



Excerpts from Pauline Boss's Ambiguous Loss Website:
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quote:

An ambiguous loss is one in which some critical element is missing, making customary rituals impossible, and impeding typical behaviors. Some ambiguous losses are due to physical absence and others are due to psychological absence.

...people need guidance in order to see their losses as ambiguous, resist social pressures to “get over” the loss, and develop resilience based on personal strengths and family and community support.--



The six guidelines for resiliency while having to live with ambiguous loss are detailed in, "Loss, Trauma, and Resilience". As described in Dr. Boss's cyclical model, they are:


Finding Meaning
Tempering Mastery
Reconstructing Identity
Normalizing Ambivalence
Revising Attachment
Discovering Hope


A lovely essay written by NickySkye regarding the nature of this loss and grief can be found on the Best of MSN section of the site here:

Grieving A Narcissist
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quote:

Knowing about the N's need for Narcissistic Supply one cannot help thinking will they come back for my NS? Was *my* NS something they treasured and miss? But in the light of day, understanding the N means that one is not valued for who one IS but only as a commodity, for NS, empty, meaningless NS. After the detachment is physically complete with an N there is the nagging abyss of was that all for nothing? It's a terrible loss and there is nowhere to go with that loss. It's static. It doesn't evolve into lost love. It just remains as a loss. Grieving a N is a burden, it's a hole in one's life.




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Closure comes up quite often on the site. A lack of closure is part and parcel of the end of a relationship with a Narcissist.

From the thread:

"I Went Back For Closure"
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quote:

Maybe I haven't finished with our relationship yet. I KNOW that I have things that I need to say to him, however, I also know that he will not pay attention or hear me. So it would be a waste of time. Ending a relationship in a D&D move sure doesn't give you the closure you usually get from a normal relationship. I still want to talk it out, he doesn't even know what that means.

Is it obsession, love, ego, lost love? I think that I will never know the answer except for the fact that I know that in order to save myself, I must stay [sign in to see URL]



Dr. Phil has what I think is an excellent article on Closure, here:

Closure: Minimal Effective Response by Dr. Phil
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quote:

Getting emotional closure means that you can "close the book" on your situation and its associated pain. You can put that book of pain on the shelf and you will no longer have to take it down and read from it on a daily basis



From: The Three Forms of Closure
by Sam Vaknin
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quote:

For her traumatic wounds to heal, the victim of abuse requires closure - one final interaction with her tormentor in which he, hopefully, acknowledges his misbehaviour and even tenders an apology. Fat chance.




And to end, I leave you all with this excerpt from the essay I wrote on Closure in the hope that you will know that your comfort can be found. Closure will come. It lies within.

Closure
by LynnS
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quote:

Closure for me was a journey to acceptance, a realization that even though my life has changed irrevocably because of this experience in some ways, it need not define me and it never truly did. I did not ever deserve to be treated as if I had no meaning, not by anyone. I refuse to let it change me, though, or harden me, or make me into what he would have me be. I can dress this wound myself. I can figure out how to dig down and find the resilience I need to rise up again. It's up to me to decide whether I'm going to use this experience as an excuse or rather, as a way to live a better life. The N has nothing to do with that and he gets no credit for it, either. If I tried to give that relationship meaning, it would diminish all the true and wonderful relationships in my life anyway.

The following few lines are simple, but may be of some help.

You loved him and he hurt you without remorse.
There is no sense to that.
It was wrong.
He was wrong.
You didn't deserve it.
That choice was never about you.
It was about him.




Love to all,
Lynn

---
"The best way out is always through."--Robert Frost
Mar/22/2009, 3:11 pm Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Grief, Loss, and Closure


easier said than [sign in to see URL] youre suffering pts it s a lot [sign in to see URL] walking on edge and feeling scatterbrained all the [sign in to see URL] im worried there may be no cure emoticon
Mar/22/2009, 3:14 pm Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Grief, Loss, and Closure


Great posts Lynn. I think I'm in the acceptance stage and I thank God everyday I'm there.

I still feel pain for the loss of me, but, xn is dead to me and I'm over it.

Lola, healing is very hard. I have PTSD as well. You are in the stage where you feel all is hopeless and lost, i.e. the depression stage. Accept where you are at on this recovery path and keep moving.

There's no cure for the n. There is for you. Go through it, suffer, hurt, walk the [sign in to see URL] is the other [sign in to see URL] you are waiting for yourself to enter with open arms. Sounds corny, but I believe it with all my might.

---
Accepting reality is the touchstone of mental health.

~ Anna Valerious
Mar/22/2009, 3:22 pm Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Grief, Loss, and Closure


ty what it means soo much to [sign in to see URL] been going through emotional [sign in to see URL] and sadness feeling i abandoned him then because i wouldnt go back to him he d&d me soo bad im almost paralysed with emotion..
im very sad and feel sick to my stomach a lot of the time ...tired and just stuck
i took my daughter to a puppet show today with some kids and on my way back to pick my mom up at my godsons home where shes best friends with his mom i hit his car ..scraped it [sign in to see URL] am soo sick physically.. plus I have to work midnights and have to drive on a dangerous highway to get [sign in to see URL] have to maintian my composure and pull my socks up enough to go to work tonight
i feel like ive been run over by a train
and now i have mercedes bumper scrape to pay off for my god son plus my own car
im a [sign in to see URL] somehow
i know something good is gonna happen soon i dont know what but i know its coming
Mar/22/2009, 3:27 pm Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Grief, Loss, and Closure


quote:

lola3 wrote:

ty what it means soo much to [sign in to see URL] been going through emotional [sign in to see URL] and sadness feeling i abandoned him then because i wouldnt go back to him he d&d me soo bad im almost paralysed with emotion..
im very sad and feel sick to my stomach a lot of the time ...tired and just stuck
i took my daughter to a puppet show today with some kids and on my way back to pick my mom up at my godsons home where shes best friends with his mom i hit his car ..scraped it [sign in to see URL] am soo sick physically.. plus I have to work midnights and have to drive on a dangerous highway to get [sign in to see URL] have to maintian my composure and pull my socks up enough to go to work tonight
i feel like ive been run over by a train
and now i have mercedes bumper scrape to pay off for my god son plus my own car
im a [sign in to see URL] somehow
i know something good is gonna happen soon i dont know what but i know its coming



You're just sorting through the projection and "dumped" guilt, shame, and blame from the disordered.

Be patient with yourself. You might be a wreck [sign in to see URL] this is not the definition of you. You have grief and trauma to work through. How could you not?

[sign in to see URL]'s just a car. Minor bleep on the life radar ya know? Do you have insurance?

How did you know xn told you he's wishing bad prayers on you? Therein is part of the [sign in to see URL] with psychos makes us sick, real sick.

Deep breaths. March on. You have a life to live and the process will work its magic if you allow it!



Last edited by WhatincriminysHappened, Mar/22/2009, 3:52 pm


---
Accepting reality is the touchstone of mental health.

~ Anna Valerious
Mar/22/2009, 3:50 pm Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Grief, Loss, and Closure


Thanks Lynn............ :heart:
Mar/22/2009, 4:01 pm Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Grief, Loss, and Closure


Thanks Lynne

I Have so much grief in me, I cant describe. Not just from N.
This is good to read in times of distress.
I saved it for those days when I need to understand myself.


---
Pheonixrising is now Phe ONYX.
Mar/22/2009, 5:24 pm Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Grief, Loss, and Closure


I have his yahoo offlines logged or saved cause of threats.
Mar/22/2009, 9:03 pm Link to this post  
 
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