by Irina Jacobson, MA, MBA, MH
I would like to talk to you about a somber but unavoidable subject of grieving because the 2020 planetary positions are very supportive for tapping into our deep-rooted and sometimes not fully acknowledged and unprocessed grieves. Currently almost all outer planets are spending significant time in a retrograde position (optically moving backwards): Saturn is staying in retrograde until September 29th, Pluto- until October 4th, and Neptune – until November 28th. Chiron, which is in charge of emotional wounds healing, went retrograde in July and will remain in this position until December 15th. The combination of the outer planetary retrogrades prompts us to temporary retreat from concerns and temptations of the outside world into the depths of our internal realms. Chiron’s retrograde position is auspicious for the intense soul work, and its slowing down energy helps us to start acknowledging and healing losses that we might have neglected to grieve in the past.
Experiencing different losses during a lifetime, even though at the various degrees and frequencies, remain a common denominator for all humans. From an irretrievable loss of a favorite toy to a departure of the best school friend, from being fired from a dream job to being denied by the first love, from leaving family home to our parents’ passing, from loss of a spouse to divorce or death to our own fleeting youth and health, and to the inevitable ultimate physical demise – our lives can be viewed from a perspective of moving from one loss to another.
Even though we consciously acknowledge that significant painful losses are unavoidable, many of us are not well prepared to handle this type of stress. Norman Wright, a distinguished authority in grief and trauma counseling, points out that “significant losses in life are likely to engender overwhelming negative emotions, disruptions in everyday life, and long-term problems in resolving the loss”. In some cases, a significant loss, such as a death of loved one, can be so devastating that it can destroy our understanding of the meaning of life.
Many western societies place a premium value on a stoic approach to accepting losses and to resolving grief by fully moving ahead with life after a very brief period of mourning. Unresolved losses tend to hide into our subconscious until the grief explodes in seemingly sudden physical or emotional illnesses, so according to Norman Wright an important question to ask is ”What losses you have not grieved?”
When you start on the road to acknowledging and healing your deep-rooted pain, you need to be aware of what to expect when you tap into your grief. John Bowlby, the father of attachment theory, gives a classification of the Phases of Grief.
- Phase One is the phase of numbness, characterized by repression of awareness of the loss and by denial of death.
- Phase Two is the phase of yearning, where a longing for and preoccupation with the deceased dominates, and denial of the loss itself is being transformed into a denial of the permanence of loss.
- Phase Three is the phase of disorganization and despair, when the fact of a loss and its’ permanence are gradually accepted, with apathy and depression becoming predominating emotions as a despair sets in.
- Phase Four is the phase of reorganization, when depression and aimlessness are diminishing, while an interest in the future, ability to plan and to enjoy the current experiences are evolving.
Even though we cannot control the flow of stages and our movement from one stage to another, we can be aware of our progressing through the stages or stagnation in one stage.
Stephen Freeman, an expert in trauma counseling, defines 4 tasks for grief resolution. In a contrast to passive grief stages, this approach suggests action and can be controlled by the bereaved. Task One is experiencing and expressing to yourself and to others the realty of death. Task Two is tolerating the emotional suffering that is inherent in the grief while nurturing yourself both physically and emotionally. Task Three is converting the relationship with the deceased from one of presence to relationship of memory, i.e. creating a new relationship paradigm and coming to terms with the unfulfilled dreams about a future with the lost loved one. The final, Task Four, is developing a new sense of identity based on the continued life without the deceased by separating “We” and “I” and creating an autonomous Self.
I would invite you to tap into the power of retrogrades, look deep into your souls and begin a journey on the road of fully and consciously going thought the grieving process. Now it’s the time to accept and fully mourn your pain and move towards healing and renewal.
Freeman, S. (2005). Grief and loss: Understanding the journey. Belmont, CA: Cengage learning
Wright, H. N. (2011). The complete guide to crisis and trauma counseling. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House