In this interview on divorce grief I speak with "Ann," a woman who attended one of our Grief, Loss And Difficult Emotions Retreats. Ann had called me a few weeks before that
retreat, feeling stuck and overwhelmed with grief related to her divorce. I suggested
that she attend to help heal her "stuckness" and pain and to allow her to move on.
Jon Terrell, MA
Jon: What motivated you to attend your first retreat?
Ann: I had gotten a divorce, and then I struggled with working through grief related to the divorce...everything related–loss of my friends, loss of my home, loss of my job, loss of my religious connections.
My husband and I joined together because of sharing the same spiritual tradition and yet after years of the marriage I saw that we viewed it and practiced it very differently. As the marriage ended I found myself without the same faith as before. I think I realized in some way that I felt robbed of it. It was no longer mine.
So I had all these losses as a result of the divorce. And totally unexpected ones, like the loss of my old network of friends. I came back to my old home, but my old community wasn’t there.
And secondly, my body needed healing. All the stuckness, was in my body. I was in a lot of pain, migraines and physical difficulties, neck and back pain especially.
The divorce was quite devastating.
I went to job interviews, but would tear up, I’d cry, because my grief was always present.
Jon: The devastation of the divorce was showing up as intense grief for you. And your divorce grief was compounded by all these related issues.
Ann: I had lost everything. I was exhausted. I needed to move forward and I didn’t know how.
What ended up happening is I was doing a lot of inner work. I was meditating, and I got a lot out of the book The Artist’s Way. I was working intensely on my grief.
But it just kept going back to childhood issues and I didn’t know how to work with that. It felt like this huge knot.
Many of the things that had worked well for me in the past just didn’t, or I just couldn’t get through it, tease out of it what I needed.
Jon: So was that the motivation for going to the grief retreat, to try to work through the early causes of your pain and how it related to your divorce grief?
Ann: Oh absolutely! The grief was just too big. I would start with one thing, and it just spiraled up into everything.
Jon: So how did you end up finding the retreat?
Ann: I was looking for counseling but I also wanted something that would work with my body–I felt the grief in my body. I wanted to be held but psychotherapists wouldn’t go there. They said they don’t do that.
And I needed something more than the massages and bodywork I had done. So I decided to do something new.
I noticed your name coming up in several areas…as a therapist, as an energy healer and then I noticed you were also doing grief retreats. That got my attention.
When I spoke with you, you said you did counseling, and also mentioned the grief retreats. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I noticed in your voice a certain comfort.
Jon: So you heard something in my voice, but you also got that the grief retreats went beyond, maybe way beyond, talk therapy.
Ann: Yes. So I had a sense of trust with you from the phone call, and it sounded like you were offering more than what I had tried, so I said I’d give it a try.
Jon: So what happened at this first Grief and Loss retreat?
Ann: Well, I tell you, it was a little unexpected! (Laughs.) It was a wonderful small group of people, all strangers. And from the first gathering, for a meal together, a pace was set to care for each other and hear each other that was very comforting.
And as the process continued I witnessed each of the participants taking an inner journey and awakening to their inner wisdom that went beyond much of the loss or pain they had experienced.
For me, when I went through my work…I was able to release enough of my blocked sadness and grief, a lifetime of sadness and grief so that in the end I felt so much lighter. It wasn’t just the grief of the divorce; I released so much more.
I felt lifted out of the quicksand, literally. Lifted out of the loss I was buried in.
Jon: Is it fair to say this went beyond all the work you had previously done?
Ann: Oh, way beyond! Light years! This went leaps and bounds beyond it.
There was so much more space, I could see more clearly, I had room for the wisdom, my inner wisdom to shine out. I felt more confident, more open.
And physically I felt so much better. I felt I could walk with a lighter step and not be stuck.
I was able to go out and be interviewed for new jobs after that, and I felt I was moving forward in a whole new way.
Jon: It sounds like it was a whole new start for you.
Ann: Yes. Before I was lost at sea, without support or friends or anyone. I felt invisible. With this I felt more solid, more seen. I was able to participate in life again.
Jon: So you really got a lot out of your first retreat! Are you going to go to another one?
Ann: Oh yes, definitely!
Jon: Thank you Ann. I hope it will inspire others who are working through their own divorce grief to attend one of our events.
If you have any questions about our programs or retreats leave a message for Jon Terrell through the form below. He has offices in Northampton, Massachusetts and in downtown Manhattan and leads Grief and Loss retreats in New England, Florida and California.
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