When Suffering Becomes a Prison

In your life after the loss of your loved one, do you ever feel overwhelmed with suffering? Do you ever wonder when and how your suffering became a prison? And the last question is, are you trying to get out, or are you just making yourself more comfortable for a long, long stay? When you become overwhelmed in your suffering, then your suffering becomes your prison.

The experience of losing a spouse is a profound and devastating one, and it is common for everyone to feel a range of emotions, including sadness, loneliness, anger, and despair. These emotions can become overwhelming, and then, in your quest to alleviate the pain, you retreat into a prison of suffering as a way of coping with your grief.

Why Do You Do This?

  1. The first reason you create a prison of suffering is that the loss of your spouse can be seen as a loss of your identity and purpose. Losing your partner makes you feel lost and unsure of your place in the world, and in this sense, you build a prison using isolation and despair as the bars and glass.
  2. The second reason to retreat into a prison of suffering is a fear of moving on. After the loss, you may feel guilty, or disloyal for wanting to find happiness again, and guess what? That fear of guilt and disloyalty becomes the brick and mortar of your prison. You may also fear that moving on will equal forgetting your spouse, or losing the memories that you shared, and that fear can keep you trapped in your grief, the walls of your own prison.
  3. The last reason that you create and retreat into your prison of suffering is the grief process itself. The grief process is a complex and difficult thing. A natural primitive brain response is to retreat into the cave. Remember? The brain wants to keep us safe, and the safest place is hiding in the cave. Unfortunately, the cave becomes your prison. Are you safe? Absolutely! Are you miserable too? Probably so…

Maybe It’s Time to Stage a Prison Break

Do you want to know how to break out of your prison? You actually hold the key to unlocking the door. The key has a word engraved on it, and the word is CHOICE. You can…

  1. Choose to seek support
  2. Choose to take care of yourself
  3. Choose a new dream
  4. Choose a new purpose
  5. Choose to set small goals that reflect your values
  6. Choose to challenge negative thoughts
  7. Choose to find meaning
  8. Choose to meet life head on  
  9. Choose to be curious about life.  
  10. Choose to be comfortable with living in the “…and”.  (I am happy AND sad)

When Jason died, just like when your person died, there was so much sorrow, guilt and suffering.  I created a prison using those intense feelings as the tools.  And then I slowly realized something:  

It was ok to enjoy my new life.  It’s actually more than ok but we can start with that.  I needed permission to live.  I needed to make the choice that not only would I live, but I would live a life big enough for the both of us. Maybe you need that permission too.

Julie Martella

Once I decided to embrace life, I I began to find myself laughing and not feeling guilty.  I began creating a life instead of staying in the cave. It was a choice.  And yes, it was terrifying!  I began exerting the power of choice in my life, and those choices broke down the walls of my prison.

My friend, you can CHOOSE to be sad the rest of your life. You can CHOOSE to pad your personal prison with over-netflixing, over-consuming, or over-sleeping. At the end of the day, it’s still a prison. Or, you can CHOOSE life.

Let’s fill your life with joy because of the love you shared with your person.  Let’s CHOOSE to feel more happiness, more joy, and more gratitude. You can break down those prison walls with the word CHOICE, and create a life that honors the love you built and shared.

You can do this and I’m here to help.


Julie Martella Avatar

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