By Heather Greaves
Reiki Teacher, Yoga Instructor and Holistic Counsellor
Family – Does Blood Really Break All Barriers?
What do you think of when I say the word ‘Grief’? Perhaps a death, a terminal illness diagnosis or maybe the end of a marriage? What if I told you that we grieve anytime life doesn’t meet our expectations? The degree and extent of that grief depends solely on how attached we are to our beliefs around those expectations; and, there is no exact amount of time that we are meant to grieve before we ‘get over it’. Sometimes we never do!
What happens when your family let you down?
Last year, I had a huge revelation with my family. I left the USA when I was 18 years old and have never returned, except for annual short visits. Generally, though, our time together is very brief. So I have what I call a ‘holiday romance’ with my family. Everyone is on his or her best behavior and we avoid discussing any issues that may be uncomfortable for us so that we can have a ‘pleasant’, memorable time.
Last year, our stay was about two months so it moved from our usual holiday pleasantries, to really getting a taste of whom we are. I became painfully aware that the people, who I had created in my mind these past 30 years as my extended family, were in actual fact not those people at all! Yes, they looked and talked like them, but their actions and behaviours were very unlike the fictitious people I had created in my mind. And what was worse, I was most definitely not the person that they had created in their heads! My own family…my blood…does not know me at all!
Now to be fair, I speak regularly to my mother, so out of everyone, she probably has more of an idea; my 99 year old grandmother, well, you can expect that she is living in her favourite memories of her past, as being 99 presently isn’t all that flash; and my father, well, lets just say he is happy with himself.
But most surprising for me is my sister. In my mind we had each other’s backs…no one dare take a step out of line to either of us as they would live to regret it! But, interestingly enough, that wasn’t the case. I went through all of the emotions:
- Denial – surely she didn’t just say/do that?
- Anger – how dare she threaten my family! Who does she think she is!
- ‘What if/if only’ – If only we had stayed in a hotel and not at her house for so many days…maybe it wouldn’t have happened)
- Sadness/depression- no one I love knows me or is interested in knowing the real me
- Relief/acceptance – at least I don’t have to deal with the never-ending drama of her life anymore.
The 5 stages of grief! I am grieving the loss of the fictitious relationship that I created in my mind! She is still alive physically, but my ‘fantasy’ has died! Too many significant situations and times in our lives has happened without us bearing witness to any of it, so we only have the fantasy of our holiday relationship that have shaped our mental and emotional creations of us.
Now the choice is always, ‘Do we start from scratch and get to know each other as the people we are today or are there too many obstacles that separate us, including continents? Is the potential for suffering worth the risk?’
For me it is worse than the actual loss of my loved ones, as most of them were very old and unwell, and there was an expectation that of course they couldn’t live forever. But, for those that are for all intent and purposes ‘alive and well’, my desire that we love each other unconditionally and my attachment to that is clearly incorrect …and this is more painful than words can express. (Note to self: ‘Must work on Acceptance). Let’s see what the Universe unfolds.
Rose is a Fit Busy Mum of 3 fit kids. She aims to empower mums who are time poor. She acknowledges that mums are ‘busy’ but tries to inspire them to regain their fitness through simple everyday habits that she promotes through her book