Despite the anguish of living on without someone you love and the negative implications of post-traumatic stress disorder,
there is also the possibility of cultivating post-traumatic growth.
Nell Rose Forman
One of my cats with 'Love Untethered'!
I thought it might be time to share an excerpt from my book 'Love Untethered: How to live when your child dies.' If you've already read it, you'll know the first part is my personal experience of living on without my precious son. However, in the second part of the book, I offer advice on navigating a significant loss, as well as various insights.
I may share other excerpts from both 'Love Untethered' and 'Supporting Your Grieving Client' at a later date but I thought I'd start by sharing what I think is a hopeful (though realistic) piece from the book.
© 'Love Untethered' by Vanessa May
Pain and suffering can break and destroy us or they can crack us open and create growth, love, and strength. We often hear of post traumatic stress but we forget about post-traumatic growth and how they often exist simultaneously. Pain can have a purpose in shifting our perception of life and there are several ways you can grow after a tragedy. These include discovering a new purpose in life; helping others who have experienced a similar tragedy; becoming more compassionate; a deepening spirituality; discovering an inner strength you perhaps didn’t know you had; and developing stronger relationships.
Having experienced both post-traumatic stress disorder and post-traumatic growth, I feel that they are two sides of the same coin. And I know which one I prefer. However, it’s important not to feel any pressure to turn pain into purpose – to have to transform it into something meaningful. It can certainly help, but not if it bypasses the healing of your grief and trauma. There are times we have to allow the pain to just be. I find this to be a fine balance and one that I’m still working on.
Personal development, where we reframe our narratives and thoughts in a more positive way, is great for many aspects of our growth, but when grief and trauma are present, matters may be far more complex. Based on my own experience up to this point, I feel that the best path through grief is to fill your toolbox with ways to support yourself, look for purpose in life where you can, but combine this with allowing the pain to rise up when it wants to without suppression, granting it the expression it requires.
Allowing yourself to fully experience the pain of your grief isn’t a negative thing to be avoided; it’s necessary for the ongoing process of healing. Whilst you aim to find this balance, you may find that your reduced resilience and increased feeling of vulnerability put additional obstacles in your way. This has been my experience but, of course, it won’t necessarily be true for everyone. However, it can be very disconcerting to find you seem to lack the resilience you might once have possessed. I have spoken in Part One about how very vulnerable and exposed I felt. This feeling has somewhat lessened as I try to work towards post-traumatic growth and re-establishing resilience, but for me, it can still take very little to set me back. I hope, in time, this will improve. Setting little goals for myself and focusing on small achievements helps.
'Love Untethered' a book to support you in your grief
If you haven’t read 'Love Untethered' yet it’s available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, WH Smith’s, The Compassionate Friends bookshop and most places you can buy books.
See here all for links to online bookshops.
And if you have read it, can I ask a favour? Amazon reviews are so important for getting the book 'shown' to readers searching for books on grief and who, I hope, 'Love Untethered' might offer a little comfort. Apparently, 50 reviews is the magic number for this to happen and currently - although some of the reviews are fantastic - I only have 21. You don't need to have purchased the book from Amazon to leave a review and if you'd rather not write anything then you could just leave 5 *? I know from the emails and messages I receive that my book is resonating with people, so I would love if you could help me reach more of us who are experiencing the pain of a significant loss - thank you x
"I've read so many books, blogs, other resources and most are just not "right" for me. I binge read Vanessa's book in 2 days! Besides the comfort in knowing there is somebody out there who has walked the same path, this book is also a treasure trove of resources. Vanessa paints a truthful picture of what child loss grief is like without the very dark outlook that you so often encounter in this space. If you are looking for inspiration and tools to shape your future life, then this book will be invaluable" (Amazon review)
If you'd like to, you can send me a message via the contact page
or via Instagram: (@may.wellbeing)