Being stuck in the past with unresolved grief

People can get such powerful upheavals in their lives that it can get very hard to move on as a result. They can be very stuck in the past, although it might not seem like that. The challenge can be very much about finding ways to let go of what happened, and bring it to completion so that they can free themselves up to move on.

A classic example of this is a bereavement, where someone might so miss, say, their dead partner that for years afterwards they feel unable to let go of the dead person. This might be such that they feel they cannot move on and meet and be with another. A famous example of this was of course Queen Victoria after the death of her beloved Prince Albert. Another, from literature, is Miss Havisham in Dickens’ “Great Expectations“, jilted on her wedding day, still in her wedding dress and keeping her wedding feast laid for a feast that never happened. At one level you might think, should they? Of course, it might work for them to be like this, and this brings up the important questions of it not being about what’s “right” but instead what serves them as individuals. Where this sort of matter becomes an issue is where the person concerned would like to move on, but feels unable to do so. It’s when they decide that it’s not OK for them.

Unfinished business

Such a stuckness is what we would call a fixed Gestalt, unfinished business, where there’s grieving to be done and a process of letting go to be gone through, which can include facing and working through the pain, and embracing the feelings that can come up. Very often people have felt unable to go through the full grieving process. However, each in their own time. It can take years to work this sort of stuff through, and sometimes people don’t really deal with their loss and their grief until years later. We need to be gentle with ourselves and let healing take its natural course. For others, they decide they aren’t going to let it hold them up and they take hold of an opportunity, in a manner of speaking, and allow the feelings to come up and be released.

It’s worth taking an inner look and asking ourselves what stuff from the past we’re holding on to, where we’re stuck in the past, what we’ve not let go of. Otherwise it’s held inside, in the body, and eats away inside us, a life put on hold, held in a freeze-frame in the past, incomplete, unfinished, and yet unfulfilled, like a perpetual sadness (and perhaps rage too), and a held-on-to perpetual sadness too.

Thus by being stuck in the past we can prevent ourselves from embracing all that life offers us in each and every moment, the joy of aliveness and the love of life. Yet it’s always there, for whenever we choose to let go and go and enjoy it. We hold the key. We can open the door from the inside, and step out, and be who we really are. When we choose.

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