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Coping With Emotional Milestones

April 23, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 186

Anniversaries can be a very stressful time for people, depending on the circumstances.

Personally, I find things like funerals, Christmas and New Year very stressful. I have thought quite a bit about why this is and I realised that it's largely because of the expectations that we place on ourselves and on other people to behave and perform in certain defined ways at these times. Ways that perhaps are contrary to our beliefs and values, and yet we go along with them in an effort to be accepted by our "tribe".

Many of these rites of the passage of time originate in ancient Pagan rituals and belief systems. They were often connected to the astrological placement of the stars and the ancient gods they represented.

Birth Days

It seems that we mere mortals desired a connection with these gods and so the idea of celebrating personal birthdays with a feast was created by the Roman emperors in an effort to affiliate themselves to a particular god/goddess. Over time, their subjects adopted this ritual as well.

The birthday cake, which is generally round in shape, is a representation of the moon and burning candles on it represent the light of the moon. This idea apparently began as a monthly Pagan ritual honouring Artemis, the moon goddess, where little round cakes with candles on were made as offerings to her.

Wishing someone "happy birthday" was also a Pagan idea. They believed that a person was more vulnerable on their birth day so by offering good wishes and gifts they were providing them with positive protection.

These days, birthday gatherings are more a celebration of life than anything else.

I've spent many of these occasions alone for various reasons and have devised my own simple methods of coping and paying homage where appropriate. I tend to keep things simple, earthy and introspective, allowing myself to feel any emotions that arise, including any feelings of sadness that surface.

Anniversary of Death of a Loved One

As I approached the first anniversary of the death of my loved one, Alan, who died from throat cancer in April 2011, I honestly thought I would be fine about it. I had made an effort to understand the grieving process and allowed myself to work through it at my own pace.

I had done loads of processing of deep emotions like anger, and feelings of loss and abandonment since his passing. I had worked on forgiveness and compassion, understanding and acceptance. I thought I was good to go.

Then the evening before the anniversary date, I happened to glance at the wall clock and in an instant I was transported into a retrospective time warp, back to the night Alan was dying. The tears spilled out of my eyes, my chest and shoulders contracted in a near-panic attack and I experienced a nerve-related spasm in my lower back.

I was amazed at how my physical body had instantly reacted to the thoughts and emotions I was experiencing. Without conscious thought, I felt myself curling into a fetus position in an effort to protect my breaking heart.

Every time I looked at the clock, my subconscious mind took me back to that exact moment one year before. It was like I was reliving the experience of losing Alan all over again.

This was a powerful example of living in the now as I recalled each progressive moment, frame by frame, of his final hours.

The grief I was feeling continued to come up in waves through the night and the next morning. It finally came to a head at the exact moment of his death at 10.45am. I could hardly breathe as the sobs wracked my body and I wailed like a child at what I was remembering.

Calm After the Storm

To my amazement, the storm of emotions & tears passed and a wonderful calm descended over my mind and heart. I went and sat in the warm sunshine and breathed in the fresh sea air as I gradually quietened down. I continued to breathe slowly and deeply and realised that I was breathing in life itself. I was allowing nature in all its glory to nurture me. It felt good.

As I sat quietly, eyes closed, I felt a gentle touch on my left shoulder and knew that Alan was there comforting me from beyond the veil, so I talked to him and expressed my love for him and told him that I would be fine.

I went back inside and something nudged me to pick up my cell phone and open the video clips on it. That was when I really began to heal as I watched a short video I had recorded when Alan was still doing well. It was a very funny clip and you can hear my choking laughter in the background at his antics. It was a beautiful, funny memory and that is what filled my mind and heart for the rest of the day.

I wanted that first anniversary to be a celebration of Alan's life and his re-birth - and it was. I ended the evening enjoying supper with wonderful friends to celebrate the birthday of one of them. How appropriate that it should be on that day too. We laughed and teased one another and recalled funny incidents from our lives. It was perfect.

What I learned:

The grieving process is like climbing mountains. Each time you think you have got to the summit, another peak rises that has to be scaled.

Our physical body often holds the memory of events from our lives - both good and not so good - and this is why it's so important to get in touch with what you are feeling, not just what you are thinking. If you shy away from those deep feelings, sooner or later, they WILL surface and you WILL have to deal with them, but once you do...the sense of relief and release is wonderful!

I continue to be open to the amazing lessons that experiencing cancer and death offer me as I live mindfully, appreciating each precious moment. I hope that coping with emotional milestones will get easier for me as time passes and that I am able to joyfully celebrate all that has been part of my life, with gratitude and appreciation.

My Campaign

I have just created a Campaign relating to my book and I would be delighted if you could share it with everyone you know. Please help me to raise awareness of cancer and the possibilities that exist for holistic healing:

Blessings of perfect health Linney

Linney Elder is the author of "Infinitely Possible - A Cancer Odyssey", a freelance researcher and writer, Reiki Master Teacher, intuitive channel for healing energy and perennial student of life.

Join her on this magical journey of self-discovery - read more insights and related subjects on her website:

This article was originally published on my website. © Copyright 2011 - Linney Elder. All Rights reserved.

Source: EzineArticles
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