Vicarious Grief: Allowing the Choices of Others to Cause Us Pain

Vicarious Grief: Allowing the Choices of Others to Cause Us Pain

written by: Lana McAra
by: Lana McAra
Vicariousgrief Vicariousgrief

We've all experienced it. The phone rings and we learn that someone we care about has made a choice that is a sure recipe for trouble.

They choose a romantic partner who will cause them heartache. They quit a great job in favor of a risky venture. They get into personality drama that will only bring them to regret. We see it. We feel it. We have a knowing that starts in the present and stretches into the future. And what we see isn't good.

I can remember so clearly my grandmother pacing the floor and gazing out the plate-glass picture window in her living room, muttering prayers for someone who was having problems. That heaviness followed her day after day because there was always some situation to cause her concern.

With six children and fifteen grandchildren of her own, her seven siblings and all their children and grandchildren, church people, neighbors... and on and on, my dear sweet grandmother had more than enough input to keep her worrying and muttering prayers for the rest of her life. And that's how she spent her 82 years of life. The kicker is that 98% of the problems she worried and grieved over were not her own. They came from the choices of people she cared about. But that's how we sensitive people are, aren't we? We tend to take on the pain of others as though sharing the pain will help them in some way. As an empath, I feel the grief and pain of others every day. I feel them in a deeper way than most. For years, that kind of unhealthy connection kept me feeling burdened and heavy, too. Just like my grandmother.

98% of the problems she worried and grieved over were not her own.

Just recently this came home for me when one of my children called to say he was filing for divorce. Having been through the pain-wracked journey of divorce myself, immediately I felt loss and incredible grief. I could hardly breathe. When I got off the phone and my emotions settled a bit, I had a huge Ah-ha.

At that time, my soul had recently opened up to a higher vibration than ever before, and my life was filled with gratitude and joy. I loved my job, my home, my car–everything in my life was good. Now this.

That's when I felt a choice. I could stay in the pain of my son's choice or I could release the pain and stay in the joy of my own vibration. Not that I cared less for him, but staying in his pain wouldn't help him at all. My first priority was taking care of myself. And so I did.

Through this process, here's what I learned. It's OK to feel someone else's pain when you're in a space to sit with them and support them in it. It's ok for that time. However, constantly living in the pain of others doesn't serve me because it: Worse, we enter this kind of unhealthy connection with no control over the choices of others. We cannot change them or correct them, so we go into a responsive mode rather than an active mode. That's never to our highest and best good.

Constantly living in the pain of others doesn't serve me.

  1. Doesn't help them at all.
  2. Brings down my vibration.
  3. Puts a halt to the abundance mindset I choose for myself.
  4. Vacuums out my joy.

Learning to release those energies, we can en-Joy our life.

As coaches and healers, we are bombarded with the low vibrations, the pain, and the challenges of others. Learning to release those energies, we can continue to live in joy, peace, and love. We can en-Joy our life. Isn't that what it's all about?

written by: Lana McAra

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