After the death of my younger brother last year, and then my elderly father a few months later, I was overwhelmed with grief and trauma.
The fact I will never hear their voices again or see their faces is unthinkable.
Having to clear out both their apartments and handle both of their estates within a very short time didn’t allow me much time to come to terms with their deaths.
A friend suggested counselling. Three online sessions helped greatly.
I also bought more than half a dozen books on the subject of grief.
And read numerous articles.
I am still working on it.
It is a work in progress.
It is not a quick and easy fix.
Even now, a year later.
But even as I was searching for help, some unexpected therapy came my way.
Straight outta left field.
I happened to notice a copy of the book Eat, Pray, Love on the shelf in our basement.
I really didn’t think much of the movie.
It seemed to be about a selfish and self-centred woman unhappy with her marriage and so she flitted around the world in search of something else.
But the book is an entirely different story.
In the book, the author is grieving.
Grieving the loss of her marriage.
As I have learned in my own journey of healing from grief, it can take many forms.
We all grieve being born, for example.
The cutting of the ties from our mothers as we are thrust out into the world.
We can grieve the loss of a job, or the sale of a home, or even moving to a new city, leaving behind a familiar one.
The book is split into three sections: one about eating, one about praying, and one about loving.
In the second section, about praying, I found immeasurable solace.
The author goes to India and as she works through her own experiences and meditations and prayers, she also helps the reader.
She helped me.
The section on loving is also about healing from grief.
It was so comforting.
I finished that book with some hope.
Some light at the end of the tunnel.
But my unexpected therapy wasn’t done.
I had downloaded what I thought would be an entertaining, easy to read novel, The Castaways.
Having read one novel by the prolific author before, I wished to be swept away to the coastal towns and islands of the northeastern U.S.
The plot, about four couples who are besties, are dealing with the deaths of one of the couples.
The author pens the journeys of each of the remaining six individuals with heartfelt and extremely meaningful words.
Although a novel, their different paths of coping were no doubt written from experience or intense research on how people deal with their grief.
It was an awesome experience in my own grief journey.
Another unexpected therapy session.
Read on the comfort of my own back deck in the lovely summertime temperatures, surrounded by healing and therapeutic greenery and flowers.
And there have been several tv series and shows and even movies which have provided some unexpected therapy as well.
The Netflix series Grace and Frankie, about a couple of 70-something women who are grieving the ends of their marriages, offers many insightful and helpful situations.
Although written as a comedy, the heartbreaking scenarios they find themselves in is relatable to my own grief on a deep level.
AfterLife is another Netflix series that offers some unlikely therapy for anyone who is enduring their own grief.
Written by and starring British comedian Ricky Gervais, he is coping with the death of his wife.
Searingly spot-on in many ways, it too offers unlikely therapy for anyone also coping with any loss of any kind.
Canadian singer and songwriter Jann Arden penned a touching book entitled Feeding My Mother. In it, she shared her journey through the loss of her parents. It has also been a therapeutic balm.
I have often found myself ruminating about my brother’s life, and all the what if’s and should have’s and would have’s.
His death was in part caused by his lifestyle choices.
Something that I still have a hard time coming to terms with.
And then I watched season one of The Flight Attendant.
In the season finale, an older Italian woman says, “Who has the space for other people’s choices?”
Well, if that doesn’t say it all.
We do have our own choices to worry about, let alone the choices of others, and especially if those choices lead to their demise.
The old woman was right.
We have to let those go.
I have to let those go.
In order to help me heal and get to the other side of the grief journey, I have to let go of other people’s choices. Namely my little brother’s choices.
He was a big boy, nay, a man, and although I believe in the end he didn’t have the luxury of a choice about his lifestyle choices, I cannot bear that weight along with the grief I feel about losing him.
And so, I have learned that the healing is out there if we wish to see it. To find it. Or to have it find us.
The universe offers us so many opportunities for help.
If we are only open to it.
My own journey towards healing is far from over.
And I will keep my heart open for the next unexpected therapy.