“The Betweens” and Feeling Stuck in Grief

Randi Henriques

I have come to see that life is a continuum of losses, with many interjected seasons of joy along its sometimes painful journey. Such respites can be called “the betweens”. These are celebrated and can bring much needed balance to our wounded spirits. The respites enable us to deeply appreciate the best in truly living.

Many years ago, I enjoyed a professor at Tulane University who very often lectured on “stuckiness”. At the time, I did not truly appreciate the meaning of this term. Having experienced various types of loss in my lifetime, I can most easily describe the feeling as it relates to recovery from a natural disaster. My experience with complete and utter devastation and loss as a result of Hurricane Katrina offered me the opportunity to feel “stuckiness” firsthand. Yes, the loss was devastating and heartbreaking, but the inability to climb out of the despair and take action was worse than the loss itself.

I often witness this phenomenon with my clients who become stuck in a stage of the grief cycle.

Telltale signs of stuckiness include the following:

  • obsession with one’s loss
  • an irrational fear of loss
  • irritability
  • loss of meaning or purpose
  • feeling responsible for having not prevented the loss
  • inability to acknowledge the loss

I am often reminded of this beloved quote describing grief by Vicki Harrison.

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

If you are finding yourself stuck in grief, I would love the opportunity to help you learn to swim. Call me!

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