April 10, 2006

I have come to realize the power grief has on us. There are a lot of emotions that radiate through us, some happy, some sad. But grief seems to make them all pale in comparison.

We know that loss of a loved one (or of anything important to us) creates grief. The loss creates a hole in our being which eventually will be filled up with something else. But that hole, when it is there, is immense. 

As I recently said to someone going through a problem, we’re like a bucket. We operate best when we are full. When we are overflowing, we have too much to do, and get stressed out. When we are less than full, we feel a void and look for something to fill it. Just a thought.

When I was in the audience for John Edward, there was a lady in the next section that got a reading. There was a point that she was ok, and then the next moment, all the grief she had been feeling let loose cutting through everyone around. I had actually gone in with shields fairly low, but still blocking out negative emotion. I felt this like a stab of pain ripping through my heart. 

I think part of it is that for an empath to be affected by someone else’s grief, they need to have experienced grief for themselves. I think that if one never experienced grief in the loss of a loved one, they would feel grief from others, but not to the depths of their soul as someone that has lost someone close. 

When I see someone that has lost a loved one, I feel their grief. Suddenly all the grief I’ve experienced through the loss of loved ones comes boiling up and I’m flooded with memories and tears. Through my lifetime, I’ve lost a mother, best friend, brother-in-law, and five dogs and two cats. There is quite a bit there that can come up.

The bad thing is that I have trouble watching John Edward on TV. I have the same problem. Sometime during the show, seeing the people trying to deal with their loss, the memories and feelings can come up there as well. Seeing someone that has lost a loved one is a hard ordeal for me, and I expect for most empaths. Grief is a horrible, gut wrenching emotion that can overcome one in a matter of seconds. It is debilitating and painful. One has to work through it, or out of it.

Hollywood has made movies for years that we refer to as ‘tear-jerkers’. These are movies that suck us into caring about a character so deeply that their death in the film causes us to cry or experience grief as if we are the ones that lost someone. 

Television is famous for playing with our emotions. They will have us following a program every week and then kill off a character that we have invested time in liking. Sometimes it is the actor that dies and the programs character has to be written out.

That happened recently with the program ‘The West Wing’ where John Spencer died of a heart attack. The bad thing is, I, like the rest of the fans don’t know John Spencer. I know his character Leo McGarry. When the writers dealt with the actor’s death, they managed to take his character that we have been following for eight seasons, and have the character die. But what hurt the most, what tore through me (and I’m sure others) was the reactions of the other characters to Leo McGarry’s death. That is what pulled that grief emotion up again. 

I find it interesting that we can handle seeing someone die. We can control our emotions. We can deal with it. What kills us is seeing someone else react to it, and seeing the grief they are feeling. That forces us to feel it ourselves.

I remember reading a book a while ago that dealt with one of the major characters dying. They actually didn’t die, but it seemed that they did, and to the other characters, that person did die. The author went through an extensive visit with each character as they heard about and then dealt with the death. They expressed anger and huge amounts of grief. Seeing it through other’s feelings brought all that emotion back up again. 

I guess I don’t really know where I wanted to head with this (don’t you hate when that happens). I guess it is mostly just observation. Any emotion in groups is contagious. But grief tends to have the sharpest point and cut the deepest.