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AcceptanceGrief and LossLiving Fully

Don’t Hold Back! Re-engage in Life after the Initial Grieving Ends

By June 1, 2012August 13th, 2016No Comments

By Karen Mehringer

Locked into my seat on the Double Shot ride at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, I grabbed tightly onto the handle bars and turned my head towards my husband, John, for assurance. We were facing the beach where kids played soccer and volleyball in the sand. Umbrellas, the colors of the rainbow, were set one right next to the other. Sailboats cruised around near the wharf. It was a gorgeous sunny warm day. As the ride pulled us straight up 125 feet into the air and then quickly dropped us, leaving my stomach in the ethers, I screamed at the top of my lungs. It shot us up and down one more time before coming to a gentle stop. Laughing, I stumbled off the ride and exclaimed, “That was a blast!” I felt like a kid again.

The grieving process takes a tremendous amount of energy. Initially, it is normal to withdraw from engaging in life in order to conserve our energy so we can heal. Perhaps we no longer feel like attending social functions and prefer to spend time alone or with close friends and family. We may find ourselves going to bed earlier than normal, watching more movies or TV and sleeping later. Sometimes we may even need to take naps during the day. All of this is normal and healthy as we listen to our bodies and honor our own healing process. Eventually our energy comes back and we begin reaching out and living more fully.

If however we have experienced multiple losses and have not allowed ourselves the time to grieve each one, we may develop an on-going pattern of holding back and conserving our energy which becomes unhealthy. A vicious cycle is created in which we hold back to protect ourselves and in turn, we block the creative life force energy within, resulting in symptoms such as depression, physical illness and a loss of vitality and joy. Our creative life force needs an outlet to flow and be expressed. Bottled up, it becomes stagnant and we feel dead inside.

For the past ten years, after my brother and father died, I had experienced repeated early miscarriages as I attempted to fulfill my dream of having a baby and being a mom. Each month I experienced grief during the time of my cycle.  As a result, I had developed a pattern of holding back my energy to protect myself.

Last week, while on vacation with John, I had the opportunity to engage fully in activities that normally I might have said no to…riding my bike to a concert, running on the beach, hiking and swimming in the same day. I was surprised to find that the more I said yes to experiencing something new and fun and exerting my energy, the more energy I actually had. Like riding the Double Shot, I felt fully alive.

Where are you in your grieving process? Do you need to cocoon yourself and be still, so you can continue to heal? Or, are you holding back your life force to protect yourself? If so, is it time for you to say yes and engage more fully in your life? If you were to say yes, what might that look like? How might that feel?

After the initial grieving is complete, it is important for us to continue to say yes to life so we can allow our creative life force to flow through us, so that we can experience more passion and joy.


 “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive…”

– Joseph Campbell


(I welcome your reflections on this article and hearing about your personal experiences. Also, if you find yourself feeling stuck, unable to engage more fully, I am available for a free 30-minute phone consultation to determine how I can support you on your journey.

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Karen Mehringer, MA, MFT - Grief support, counseling and life coaching in Santa Cruz area.