Counseling Keys

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A Spiritual Solution to Grief, Recovery & Free Will

(Part II to Overriding Genetics Post)

I have a confession. It concerns the reason for the long delay of my writing Part II to my last post. It also discloses a bit of personal information. I offer it, however, as a way of illustrating the grief and recovery process.

My mother passed a few months ago. Honestly, it was rather unexpected. Yes, she had been ill and hospitalized a few times. This last time was the worst and the doctor gave her a timeline—one year. He added that he had seen people live for up to six years. They released her from the hospital on a Friday and she passed two days later. I wasn’t even there. I live almost 2,000 miles away and since she was getting released from the hospital, I had decided to visit her the following week for Mother’s Day. It aches that I wasn’t with her and wasn’t able to physically hug her and tell her I love her.

Ironically, I considered writing about the grief process after I returned from her funeral. I have the information and training. I could use it to write about grief stages for others, I told myself. A couple of weeks passed. Then I had an ah-hah moment and began to write about how people can overcome their genetics (and contrary to the response from one commenter in the post, I actually have been in discussions with many researchers that believe our behavior is hard-wired by our genetics). Yes, I was on a secret mission to counter that argument and then give solid research on how we can all be more in control of our genetic predispositions and live healthier and happier lives.

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Of course, now I can see that all of that was in reaction to losing my mother. She had diabetes and was only 62 years old. I began to get upset that her food and lifestyle choices are what took her away and left me alone and with all this sadness and guilt. (Funny how we make it about ourselves.) So in a classic grief move— where one feels out of control due to the internal mix of denial, anger, bargaining and depression—I took control. Taking control is a hallmark symptom of grief because we feel out of control, so we overcompensate and attempt to take more control. Usually our efforts fail.

That’s what happened to Part II of my blog. I wanted to tell people about all of the research on healthy living. I wanted to warn people about the dangers of sugar, obesity and inactivity. Heck, while I was at it, maybe I could address all the addictions in the world—from smoking to workaholism and all the isms. How about the dangers lurking in the 1,000+ invisible chemicals that saturate non-organic coffee beans? Or the dangerous phthalates that are leeching into the liquid of all those healthy looking water bottles? Is anyone remembering Chicken Little right now? “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Takeaway number one—the next time you’re annoyed by someone preaching on their soap box about something, maybe you can be a little patient and realize that maybe, just maybe, they are feeling a wee bit out of control and it’s just their attempt to overcompensate. With that disclaimer, I’m still going to share how I have been arriving at that ethereal stage of grief—acceptance. It even provides the answer that was promised in Part I of my blog! (How’s that for making up for lost time?)

I’m going to preface it with something I heard on the Science channel. It was a program about the pyramid builders in Egypt called “What the Ancients Knew.” (Yes, like you, I’m always on the search to find answers.) The show looked at inventive technologies developed by the pyramid builders and described how the builders were not slaves, but were actually highly revered and supported by the community. Then the narrator said, “The ancient Egyptians created world wonders, yet as their knowledge and experience grew, their craftsmanship went downhill.” While saying that, the camera cut from one spectacular pyramid to a crumbly rock formation that barely resembled a pyramid.

That statement blew me away. It’s like saying the more we know, the more we get in our own way. Or the old expression, “Man makes plans and God laughs.”

God. I don’t talk a lot about God on these posts because I never want to offend anyone. I try to remain professional and objective—non-partisan and secular. It’s kind of a lot of garbage because even the great Carl Jung describes the most stubborn of behavior changes can only be incited through spiritual experiences. Maslow’s attempts at describing aspects of self-actualization are similar to spiritual experiences as he calls it “vague…effortless, innocent, easy, a kind of freedom from stereotypes and clichés” (pg 153). Father of Humanistic Psychology, Carl Rogers, said mystical experiences and spiritual phenomenon could be the cornerstone of future discoveries and result in a new lawful order of things (pg 83). Thus, if the greats can address Spirituality and God, so can I.

My acceptance and comfort about my Mother’s passing has come from my faith that her Spirit continues to live. I could cite evidence about how the physical body loses a little bit of weight after one’s death, but that would be missing the point. I could get in my head and seek knowledge to solve endless circular riddles and, in doing so, would run the risk of ending up like the ancient Egyptians whose craftsmanship declined.

I think the point of life is the mystery, the unknown, and the magical. It’s about having faith and looking at the world each day with awe and wonder. We have brains that can think and bodies that transport us in this world, however, it is the intangible part of ourselves that gives us meaning, hope, love, and makes life worth living. It is so mysterious that it exceeds physical laws and continues to stump scientists when endless unexplainable things occur in everyday research. Maybe we are not supposed to know everything. Maybe we don’t really have control.

If you have any doubts and think you are just reading the ramblings of a woman in grief, check out these 12 signs of a Spiritual Awakening by Hamilton and Jackson (and if you’re still waiting for the answer to part I, I’m suggesting the Spiritual can override genetic wiring and I urge you to connect your Free Will to God’s Will, aka Spiritual Flow):

12 Signs of a Spiritual Awakening:

1. An increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.

2. Frequent attacks of smiling.

3. Feelings of being connected with others and nature.

4. Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation.

5. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experience.

6. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.

7. A loss of ability to worry.

8. A loss of interest in conflict.

9. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

10. A loss of interest in judging others.

11. A loss of interest in judging self.

12. Gaining the ability to love and not worry about receiving anything in return.

 

 

Kimberly Key is past division president of the American Counseling Association and author of Ten Keys to Staying Empowered in a Power Struggle.

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