Absence Makes the Heart Grow Sadder

Sometimes a loss is most keenly felt by the absence of something else.

An empty chair at a table for two, is a symbol and reminder that we’re now on our own.

A bare third finger when a ring has been removed reminds of commitments that are no longer there.

The silence in the room – no more laughter and loud screams – remind us of the family that use to fill this space.

The closet that looks empty and the carpet that is clean both testify to change, and to lives that have moved on.

When those losses hit with force, we’re reminded of good times and are conscious, once again, of the hole they’ve left behind.

If you’re in that place today, then allow yourself to grieve.

There’s no shame in being sad when you’re struggling with loss.

And that wrenching pain you feel – it reminds you that you cared

That you opened up your heart

 … And you miss the life you had.

Closure. Is there Really Such a Thing?

It has been said: ‘Time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The scars remain and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”

Recently I heard of a woman in her 50s who had two lovely daughters – a school teacher and accountant.

This woman (we’ll call Amy) then added a postscript …

Roughly 20 years ago, she had lost her baby son. An unexpected cot death. No-one knew the reason why.

I remember how he’d he’d curl up at the bottom of his crib. Or how he’d smile and gurgle when he’d just finished a feed.”

Yes, I remember everything, as if it happened yesterday. And yet I lost my baby nearly 20 years ago.”

So shouldn’t I have closure? Do you think that I am crazy? I sometimes start to wonder if there’s something wrong with me.”

What’s Going on?

Amy has been grieving for her son in her own way. And yet she feels uneasy, and is questioning herself. The reason is, she’s heard that grief has certain distinct stages. Hence, Amy feels she really should be over it by now.

Kubler-Ross’ 5 Stages Model

This thought of gaining closure (where grief follows a set course, and culminates in finally achieving an acceptance) is based on Kubler-Ross’ famous 5 Stages Model.

But the thing is, this grief model was developed from her work with the terminally ill – and not from working through deep losses.

And, yet, these two experiences are clearly very different (dying, versus processing and integrating loss).

Think About It

For the person who is dying there, indeed, will be an ending.

But there’s not a neat ending with these other types of losses.

Yes – it’s true, the shock wears off, and we may go on with our lives. Perhaps we’ll even feel some joy and happiness again.

But, still, grief ebbs and flows.

I’d say it never truly ends.

The crushed dreams and the memories remain there in our brain.

We can’t erase what happened or rewrite our history.

We had great expectations. This is not what we had planned.

In Conclusion

So, perhaps we’re being unfair when we put pressure on ourselves to never fight or wrestle with what could and should have been.

Perhaps the pain will lessen and the scars will fade away – but maybe ‘total closure’ isn’t something we’ll achieve.

Just a thought.

There’s no need to cry about it ….

When I was 6 years old, my grandmother died. I spent the next few days at my best friend’s house. Nothing was discussed and no questions were asked.

On the day of the funeral I went to school. I had supper at my friend’s, and then my parents brought me home. My grandmother’s death was never mentioned again.

What did I learn about loss from this? I learnt to say nothing and to move on with my life. To just do other things and forget about the loss.

This was my family’s approach to pain. The same thing happened again and again.

But here’s the thing …

This powerful message that we can be immersed in pain and loss, and not be affected, or changed in any way, is like believing that we can walk through fire without being burned.

We can pretend we weren’t harmed – but there’s damage, just the same.  

And if we never grieve our losses, then we never really heal. The injuries are there – though they’re covered by thick skin. And usually there are scars – though the marks may seem to fade.

And if we don’t grieve properly then a numbness fills our heart.

And if the wound is deep enough, we may find that we detach …. Then we can’t get close, to people and we never trust again.

What can we do about it?

Grieving is the healthy antidote to this approach.  It’s a form of self-care.

A crucial form of self-care.

It allows us to make sense of the experience of loss, to become more whole again, and move forward with our life.

It heals us so we’re able to begin to love again. To open up our heart. To be vulnerable once more.

And it’s a way of holding on to our humanity as well. For we’re not just a machine. We need to care and be cared for.

Have you been able to grieve, in a deep and honest way?     

No Turning Back

There is no turning back to yesterday, or to last month, or to last year. No matter how much you wish you could go back and live there again, or how much you wish you could change what happened, you just can’t go back. You have to keep moving forward, my beautiful friend. You have to summon all of your inner strength … and focus on who you want to be now. Who you want to be tomorrow. It might take everything you have to let go of yesterday, but once you do, you can start finding peace.” – Nikki Banas

How do you feel about letting go?

Are you ready to let go?

Are you able to let go?

Can you face the truth that you can’t change the past?

That what happened has happened, and can’t be undone?

I know you can do it.

I know that it’s hard.

But I know that you’re fierce, and I know that you’re strong.

Maybe take the first step.

It’s a journey – I know.

You deserve to be happy.

Hold on to that hope.

Quote of the Day


Trust me when I say that I know how it feels to cry in the shower so that no-one can hear you.

And having to wait for everyone to fall asleep so you can fall apart.

For everything to hurt so badly that you can’t see a way out.

I know exactly how it feels.

But I also know that there is always hope and that the tide always turns.

Hang in there, and know that you are not alone.”

– Ella Hicks


Beautiful words.

Take them to heart.

Hold on to hope.

You are not alone.

Betrayal and the Dark Night of the Soul

but somehow the page stayed empty

Learning that you’ve been betrayed by your partner plunges you into a painful cycle of loss and grief.

Often the discovery comes as a shock, and the losses are more than you can even calculate.

– To begin with, you can no longer trust your partner or spouse (as they deliberately deceived you, and lied to your face.)

– Also, you feel you aren’t able to trust yourself (because you didn’t see the signs, and you experienced gaslighting.)

– And there’s the loss of the relationship you thought you had (which now feels like a lie and a fantasy.)

– Plus there’s also the loss of the future you expected, and had planned (as you cannot think ahead; and the whole of life has changed.)

Kubler-Ross and the Grieving Process

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who studied death and dying, has identified five common stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These are experienced in betrayal trauma, too.

Note: These stages are experienced a number of times, and are neither discrete nor linear. Also, grief follows its own schedule, is unpredictable, and often hits us unexpectedly.

For example, if betrayal is related to a sexual addiction, you might attempt to reduce the shock by telling yourself that at least your partner didn’t have sex with a real person (This relates to bargaining and denial).

But later you remember that he used webcams, and he paid real women to take off their clothes. Your response to this might be rage and disgust (which could also be equated with experiencing anger).

The next day, you feel too worn out and sad to motivated yourself to do any work (a sure indication that you’re feeling depressed.)

Then, as time goes by, and you start to find out more about the changes in the brain of a sex addict, you might have days when you feel you understand why your partner had succumbed, and done all those awful things. (This is the acceptance stage.)

Note: A crucial point that should be made related to acceptance is this doesn’t mean excusing what your partner has done. It will never be OK – and should never be OK.

Instead, acceptance is more about coming to terms with the fact that reality has changed for you.

It is also about starting to rebuild your life.

This is not possible in the first stages of grief, when time stands still, and you cannot think at all. With acceptance there’s a movement. We feel there’s been a change.

The Reality

The grieving process takes time. A lot of time. It takes much longer than you think it will take. It takes a lot longer than you want it to take. The losses are like tree roots that spread out underground. The roots go down so deep.  They’re extensive and wide.

How to Treat Yourself when you are Grieving

First, be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to feel the pain and sadness. Let the tears flow. Allow yourself to rant and rage. Allow yourself to be antisocial. You’ll also feel exhausted a lot of the time.

And be patient with yourself. Grief and loss are terrible.

But it won’t go on forever. The pain will subside. You’ll emerge from the tunnel, and eventually you’ll feel those positive emotions you cannot picture now.