Updated: Oct 1, 2019
I had denied grief for so long: 13 long years. I didn't want to confront the pain inside because it would mean accepting that Christian, my brother, was dead and that was a thought too terrible to contemplate. He was only missing. I was staying loyal to him. I was getting on with life as best I could... waiting... constantly waiting.
But in late 2016, I hit rock bottom. And when the burden of grief really hit, I knew all about it. With a young family to look after and no end in sight to the limbo of having a missing brother, I made a conscious decision to save myself. Literally. Before I fell off the cliff, I grabbed the balloons which appeared to save me.
I had a choice about how I viewed my grief: as a prison sentence to be endured, or as a trigger to change my thoughts about death, grief and loss. I was guided onto the long, arduous, but totally life-changing, latter pathway. A choice I've never regretted.
Are you at that crossroads? Is it time you made a choice?
With hindsight, I've been able to identify seven beliefs which were anchoring me in grief. Perhaps you are in that place now? Can you see yourself trapped in these thought patterns?
I want to tell you about them, because it took me years to recognise these limiting thoughts and fears, and I don't want you to stay in the dark longer than necessary. I know full well how hard the loud voice of fear works to keep us from making the leap to reach the balloons... you'll only truly acknowledge the messages in this post, and act, when the time's right.
The seven beliefs:
1) When no other search options were open to me, when all the truths and answers to Christian's disappearance were still hidden and when I'd finally hit the brick wall of emotional and physical exhaustion, I thought I was alone, in darkness and that the situation was hopeless. How was I ever going to find him? How was I going to live without him? In many ways, I was embarrassed that my faith and conviction in my brother had seemingly been misplaced: I was so sure he'd come out of the woodwork following my appeals and that our love for each other would mend all bridges. Apparently, not. It was hard to face people; all I wanted was for the ground to swallow me up.
2) My obsession to find Christian - searching and searching - had kept me going, but when he failed to appear all hope was shattered. For 13 years, I'd been wishing and craving for the situation to be different - for Christian to be at my wedding, for him to be the best-ever uncle to my children, to be able to hear his bellowing laughter again. I had never accepted the situation; but that's the cruelty of having a missing loved one because craving their presence is hard to switch off, because it's always possible they COULD reappear.
3) I was actually shocked by the ferocity of my grief when I finally acknowledged it and realised my complete lack of awareness of what I had been really thinking and feeling. I had denied all the thoughts which were bubbling around inside me, ignored the physical symptoms of blocked emotions - especially in my lungs, my skin complaints and digestion issues - and had felt fearful of anyone claiming to be able to connect with the dead. I didn’t want to learn the truth! Or face my fears.
4) I was battling with my body: it was self-harm because although I knew I was drinking far too much, it was blocking out the pain that was continually threatening to engulf me. If I’d turned to drugs, it wouldn’t have been a surprise.
5) My belief was that I, as Hannah, sister of Christian, was a physical body. I was stuck to the ground, unable to reach Africa where Christian was missing. I was unable to physically travel there because I had a young family, work commitments and a husband and parents who didn’t want me going off on a wild goose chase to Mali on a needle in a haystack search. I was trapped in one place. I existed in one dimension, only. I totally identified myself as a physical body with no thought to what I truly was: a soul tethered into a physical body. When I began to realise that my soul was free to travel across time and space… ah, a revelation!
6) As I’ve previous stated, I was not listening to what my body was trying to tell me. Actually, I was at the mercy of my body with its inflammatory reactions - all unexplained and undiagnosed. Doctor and hospital visits just couldn’t pin point the reasons for my symptoms: a sudden icy chill on the left-hand side of my body which lasted for hours, the recurring iritis (eye inflammation), my lower back pain, my stomach pains, my lack of energy… all the time, my body had been screaming out to be heard. And I’d not listened to my instincts when I should have done. My body knew Christian was dead, but I didn’t want to hear. The body never lies.
7) Finally, my anger at the situation was multi-levelled: at Christian, at my parents, at Africa, at Mungo Park (the 17th century Scottish explorer in whose footsteps Christian had travelled), at the Malian police, at God, at… well, everything and everyone. I was stuck in anger, railing at the unfairness of it all and the fact that I hit a brick wall whatever I tried to do to find my brother. Anger was consuming me (unconsciously), rather than motivating me.
If you identify with these seven thought processes, then grief has you firmly under its control. To break free and find your way through and out of pain requires a radical rethink... and our online grief community, RAISE (https://raise.mn.co), is the place to find all the support and pointers you need to get you on the inner pathway to facing and healing your grief.
Everything is possible and you are an amazingly powerful being.... never doubt that. Your loved one in Spirit is willing you to grab the balloons. ❤️