February 1st, 2013
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Drawing By NYC Multiple Medium Artist Joe Mangrum
One of my sisters has a shoulder that is frozen and she is going to a physical therapist who helps her work through the incredibly stiff shoulder muscles and joint.  If the physical therapy doesn’t work, then she may have to have surgery and she really doesn’t want that to happen.

The other day we were talking about her physical therapy and she was telling me about how the therapist told her that to really get the exercises to unlock the muscles and joint that she would need to take the current therapy exercises to the next level and she asked my sister if she was prepared for the “wall of pain” that she would have to work through to achieve her goal.

My sister said she was prepared and she knew it was going to be bad; that it would be so painful that she probably would cry.  But she still is committed to her physical therapy, even when she knows it’s going to be awful, but she also feels hopeful that this increased therapy could be successful and will unfreeze her shoulder.
This may sound random to you but the more that I talked to my sister about her “wall of pain”  the more I felt I was talking to her about processing grief.

New grief can be so painful that it feels as though a part of your body has been amputated and you are walking around in a state of hemorrhaging.  You need to just take each day as it comes and little by little, you will start to feel that the pain is decreasing.

But there is still a core amount of pain that requires work from you.

I think this concept was the hardest part for me.  When my husband died, I was stumbling around and in a state of numbness.  Every day I was full of grief and pain.  What was I going to do?  I had just lost my husband and everything was falling apart.  I thought I could read about grief and think about grief and it would eventually disappear.  Not!

Months and months of just feeling terrible finally made me realize that I had to do some of the work myself.  I had to actively figure out how to make myself feel better.  I found a support group at a local hospital and in the beginning I talked to someone on the phone for one-on-one time.  Later on, I joined a group and went to sessions twice a month to talk about grief and rebuilding my life all over again.

It was exhausting but I am so glad that I took the first step and asked for help.

It’s important to recognize that you need time to work through the loss of your loved one.  There really is no way to know how long it will take you to process your feelings.  Six months. A year.  Two years.  Maybe longer.  Everyone grieves differently and takes different paths in their grief journey.  I do think it’s fair to say that healing can wash over you in cycles of ups and downs.

As much as you want to runaway from it, we all have to confront our “wall of pain” and feel it.  The processing of this pain is hard for you are giving yourself permission to remember all the good things and all the bad things that your loved one meant to you.

Write it down, shout it out, talk to a therapist, talk to a friend, paint it, take a shower and cry or go running and cry.

But get it out.

Vent your feelings and thoughts and work through you “wall of pain.”  You are releasing the pain and the hurt and the anger and the frustration and the confusion of not knowing what you are supposed to do next.

And in releasing your “wall of pain” know that you are empowering yourself and moving forward.

For grief that you hold within yourself only keeps hurting and hurting.

Courtesy of NYC Multiple Medium Artist Joe Mangrum
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