Today's Q&A is a great reminder for all of us that we express our grief differently and in our own timing. However, when emotions run high, and the loss seems unbearable, as is often the case with child loss, more grief will often add to the pain and heartbreak within family dynamics.
We must remember that 75% of how we respond to life's challenges is learned by age three. By age fifteen, we've learned the remaining 25% of how to respond to life's challenges. These are impressionable ages, and the lessons in our youth are what we fall back on as adults.
So when life hands a family a devastating loss, everyone brings their unique perspective and feelings about the person the family, as a whole, is grieving. This is why family dynamics have the potential to create more togetherness or more grief and separation in the wake of devastating loss.
However, less would be taken so personally if we all took the time to understand our loved ones better and honored each individual where they're at in their grief experience.
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Victoria Volk: This episode is sponsored by Do Grief Differently™️. My twelve-week in-person or online program that helps grieving who have suffered any type of loss to feel better. In Do Grief Differently™️, you learn new tools, education, and a method you can utilize the rest of your life. In this program and with my guidance, you remove the pain of grief. The sadness will always be there because even in complicated relationships, we love, but it's the pain of grief that keeps us stuck.
Victoria Volk: Hello. Hello. Welcome to grieving voices. Today is episode 149, a Q&A episode. But before we jump into the question today, I just wanted to share that this is the start of season 4. It is absolutely bananas to me that I've been doing this going on four years. I never anticipated that I would be having this podcast this long. I really didn't know what to expect. It took me a good year to even really just decide and do it and learn along the way and it's been an amazing experience of connecting with people from all around the world hearing people's stories and being able to connect with people in a way that still truthfully blows my mind because I have clients that find me through this podcast who listen to my podcast and it's a great joy that people feel connected to me in this way.
Victoria Volk: And can feel connected and supported even if I'm not working with you listening one on one. I hope that this podcast first and foremost helps you feel supported and that you're not alone. And also is a resource of information that you can count on to be true and helpful and yeah just not more of the myths that society seems to perpetuate. So thank you again for being here and for just supporting the podcast, for sharing, for liking, for leaving a review. And if you've never left a review, but you love the podcast, that would be I would be immensely grateful if you took a few minutes to leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Share your thoughts. I would love to hear how the podcast is helping you. If there is something in particular you want me to address, you can send in a question just like others have at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to me on social media. And I will bring your question to the podcast. And you can be anonymous if you prefer.
Victoria Volk: So anyway, with that being said, let's move on to today's question which comes from Amy and she asks, my 28 year old son died unexpectedly five years ago. Many people say I shouldn't be so emotional after this long when I talk about him. His brother and father don't talk about him because it makes me emotional. I tell them they just need to give me a box of tissues, but we've never had a talk about him as a family since his death. Is this unusual?
Victoria Volk: First of all, I can't imagine what it is like to lose a child and you know, we had a scary moment with my son where we didn't know what was going to happen. And I can speak to that fear but to actually lose a child. I imagine that as a heartbreak that any parent never really truly gets over. Right? It's like it I don't know that that phrase is even honest. Right? It's not even an honest phrase that you need to get over. A death of losing a child. And really if people say that, it's quite hurtful and harmful. Grief is unique and the pace that people experience, the emotions of grief, there's a direct relationship to how they normally react emotionally to other life events. So this question is great for anybody listening because you may have people in your life who seem unaffected. Or they may not be as expressive emotionally about a loss that was maybe close to both of you. We all display our emotions differently too. And our grief is unique because our relationships are unique. And so this is where a lot of misunderstandings can happen within family units. But for Amy, if it's your natural inclination to be more emotionally expressive and that's your natural style to be open and emotive. It would be normal for you to still have feelings five years later. As it will be in ten or twenty years. If that's true, then that's great. This is a normal and natural response to the death of someone important to you as a unique individual.
Victoria Volk: And I want people listening to keep this in mind who may not be as emotional may not react to life in a more emotionally expressive way that just because people in their life do doesn't make them wrong or bad or, you know, just like they should be over it. Because I can actually speak to this even as a child. I'm very much a feeler. I'm a feeler. I feel things. That's how I actually make a lot of decisions. How it makes me feel And so when something tragic happens, I'm really wound up in my feelings and especially children can be said that told that they're cry babies or this is where this whole, like, if you wanna cry about something, I'll give you something to cry about and this is where children who are emotionally more expressive who maybe wear their heart on their sleeves, are shut down as children, where we're not allowed to speak to the fear, speak to the anger, or speak to the sadness, or express it. And so you can be a very emotional person, but if you're shut down as a child, imagine what that does to you as an adult when you're shutting down your natural inclination of how to respond to life's challenges. Do you think you'd probably experience manifestations of physical nature like migraines or overall body pain or gastrointestinal issues, things like that. So I just want to highlight that because the way that we express ourselves and emote as adults is probably what we learned as children.
Victoria Volk: But back to the question, we can become sad by the nonactions of other people in our lives, in this instance, the brother and the father, in not talking about the sun, even in their incorrect belief that they're protecting you from your own feelings. They actually rob you and themselves of sharing the very emotions that are helpful for you to feel and express. So that's not to judge them because grieving people need and want an opportunity to talk about what happened. And their relationship with the person who died. But sadly, that's not unusual for families to avoid or ignore the emotional pink elephant in the living room. Right?
Victoria Volk: And while I would love to encourage you to suggest to the brother and the father that you have an evening of memories about your son who meant a great deal to all of you. I don't know that they'd be at all receptive. And then there's that feeling of being rejected, right? Of not feeling like you're in how do I say that? Like, in communion of grief with your loved ones, like, it's not it doesn't feel like it's this shared experience. And that's another brief experience after the loss, right? That so many of us can experience within a family unit or family dynamics So if that's the case, if you have loved ones who are apprehensive about their own emotions and are afraid to let it all out. And if that's the case, and they don't want to have the joy and the sadness and other feelings in relation to the person who passed, then you need to look around your extended family. For people who know you, who knew your loved one, in this instance, your son, who might be open to sharing stories and feelings. Because it is important for those who are more expressive to not isolate and don't shut other family out just because you're grieving differently. Your life experience has shaped how you respond to life's challenges. This is where we honor each other's grief because all grief is unique in individual, and all relationships are unique in individual.
And it doesn't make one person right. It doesn't make one person wrong. It's honoring what your needs are as the individual in your grief experience.
Victoria Volk: And I'll tell you many times, you will not find that person within your family unit. So I really highly suggest that anyone listening to this to try not taking it personal because we all just express ourselves in a way that we've been taught or we've learned and there's no right or wrong of that. It's just different. And so even just accepting that can really ease the pressure and expectations that we place, not only on ourselves and how we grieve, but on others too and others that we love within the family who mean be going through their grief differently than we are. And so I hope this was helpful in helping you, Amy, and others listening understand that there is nothing wrong with you, that there is nothing wrong with those that you love who just simply don't express themselves in the same way.
Victoria Volk: So I hope anyone listening can find that person who can share in the love and in the joy and in the challenges of their relationships, mutual relationships of someone who has passed. And if you are struggling to do that and you need to heart with ears, where you will not experience judgment, criticism, or analysis. Then I am here to support you whenever you are ready. I actually have an opening for a one-on-one client right now in my Do Grief Differently program, which is 12 weeks long. And in this program, you work through two of your most painful relationships. And not all relationships give pain, right? Many do. And in fact, most do. I mean, I'm sure you can find things that or ways that people have hurt you in your life even if it was a loving relationship. But through Do Grief Differently, we work through all of that. And I would challenge anyone who thinks they don't need to dig up the past to move forward. I challenge anyone who believes that because I guarantee that there are many aspects of your life where the past is dictating your present and will highly influence your future. And so it's only when we become emotionally complete with the relationships of those we have loved and lost. Or who may be challenging to love and are still in our lives, whatever the case may be. Right? Because all your relationships are unique. That this is a wonderful program to address those things in a safe and in a safe way. So I hope this was helpful. And if you have any further questions about this topic, please reach out to me. And in the meantime, remember when you unleash your heart, you unleash your life. Much love.