Sunday, March 31, 2013


Feelings of bereavement weigh heavily upon us. They are not necessarily associated with the death of a beloved one, but to loss in general.

The hasty pace of modern society seems to demand that we go through the paces of the appropriate rituals and "move on." I think this is a mistake. We need time to grieve. [...]

The outcomes of masking our grief and/or denying ourselves the time to come to terms with our losses may go from reinforcement of an idealized image  to a state of pathological mourning that becomes chronic and tinges everything we do.

How much stress will seep into your life depends entirely on your perception of a given situation. An optimistic view of the future and a proactive attitude in the present keeps stress at bay, with occasional peaks in the face of very concrete problems that take time to be worked out.
Conversely, a pessimistic view and the feeling that this is the end of the world (of YOUR world) will numb your intelligence and you will achieve a self-fulfilled prophecy.

[...] Some parents would fulfill their own frustrated expectations vicariously by turning their children into what they failed to become. If they succeed, it is the child who will have to worry about stress.


  1. Dear Marta,

    Words well spoken and true on the many levels you describe. We can also mourn the loss of robust health, which tries to rob us of our perceived future. I'd love to hear more of your workable cures for chronic stresses.

    Love, Micki

  2. Dearest Micki,
    The whole issue is I don't offer cures, only ways of coping. Hence "Living with Stress". But when I speak about the tree of causes, you will perhaps find some good techniques to fight chronic stress. Thank you so much for accompanying me in this journey!

  3. I am grateful for people who are write about stress. There are times when a reader connects to the writer and actually grapses the link that may help them get past a hurdle. I find the way this is written is one of those "links". I look forward to walking this journey with you.

  4. Dear LBOB, my writing about stress is connected to one of my other activities (psychoanalysis) and to my own struggles with this unwelcome "guest". Perhaps the point of connection is that you feel this isn't bookish prattle :)
    You can find earlier excerpts in "Older Posts". I'm honored that you're willing to walk this road with me!

  5. My Dear Sister,

    This is another interesting excerpt. I will be glad when my book arrives. Bereavement is an issue that we try to ignore in our superman/superwoman society. We forget that loss through death or any incident, whether we expect it or not expect it, accompany us daily, and I don't mean this in a foolish way. I once wondered why we people collect things or buy things that we don't need with the 'saving it for a rainy day' or 'you'll never know when you need it' mentality. I believe one of the reasons is that we are afraid of loss. So we buy five cans of corn for example, knowing that when we eat one can, there are four others there or we have two cell phones, because we are afraid of losing one. If we have an extra of anything, it minders the loss.

    To bring it even closer home, I have a big problems with earrings. My ears are pierced and no matter what I do, I always lose one of my earrings that I put on my earlobes. It used to bother me for years, and I must admit I would buy two pair of the same earrings so that when I loss one, I would have another pair and would take one from that pair as replacement. The problem began when I noticed that I would still lose one. In other words as long as I had a pair I would lose one, until there was really only one left.

    I actually bought four pairs of the same earrings and after two months, I only had one earring from eight sets. It seems like a simple problem but it was stress pure for me. I wondered what I was doing wrong. Everyone had suggestions on how I could secure my earrings on my earlobes and not lose one.

    May I say here that regardless of what kind of backing I use to secure my earrings, I still lose one, and it is usually the one on my left earlobe. The problem escalated, so that when I was in concerts, I would continually touch my left earlobe to see if my earring was still there. I was becoming phobic about the issue. The final crisis came when I loss one of a pair that I loved dearly. They were a gift to me and even though I had them on at the beginning of the concert, at the end of the concert, the left earring was missing.

    The loss hurt but I was faced to look at what I was doing to myself, and I realized that I was devoting too much action to trying to avoid the loss of one of my earrings, because I didn't want to experience the sadness of loss.

    I still lose one and it is usually in my left ear but I believe I handle it better now than before because I place more importance on the joy of having worn them than I do on having lost one. Now there are days that I go on stage with mix match earrings because I refused to not wear the one left alone earring. I wear it with another left alone earring. The funny thing is that when I have on mix matched earrings I never lose one. (I'm laughing at myself right now.) And even funnier is that most of the concert visitors thinks it looks cool.

    Thank you for putting in an interesting excerpt that made me think about a dilemma in my life that taught me to accept the loss and turn it over into something creative. I enjoy this series tremendously.


    1. My dear Patti, thank you for sharing the extraordinary story of your earrings. One could venture a number of interpretations, but that's not what I do with family :)
      So let's accept that the idea of loss is behind it, as you say. I've noticed that most of us tend to lose things that come in pairs:gloves and socks, for example. I think that the stress resulting from these losses is that we blame ourselves for being careless. That at the back of our minds there looms a question about what else we're not paying enough attention too, an unconscious question that triggers the related stress.
      You solved your problem admirably. What I can add is that when I'm extremely worried without my conscious mind admitting it, I lose things, from papers and books to money. Throughout time, I've learnt to read these losses as signs that something much deeper is trying to draw my attention, so I stop the race and do some serious introspection. When the real problem surfaces, the lost object usually appears. Not if I lost it away from home, of course, but I never know where it happened. In other words, I record the lack much later and count it as a loss.

  6. Thank you dear Marta, for your quintessential distillation (with enviable clarity of expression) of societal expectations of grief and the stress caused therein. Your distinction of attitude I also find most resonant - and utterly agree in regards to the adjusted perspective being a critical route to happiness (or at least more so than might be usually considered). Thank you for another fascinating and most enlightening post!

    1. Dear PJ, thank you for reinterpreting my very simple style in this series. My favorite quote is Amis's "Character is destiny."
      The divide between character and personality is blurry, and this is the wrong place to put each into its right perspective. What I'm trying to convey is that, regardless of biological and extraneous factors, we can contribute to endow stressors with extra power over us or reduce them to the minimum imposed by our conjunctural circumstances. We cannot change our character, but we can certainly change our position about it.

  7. Dear Marta,

    I leave you a reflection that your post has suggested to me:

    “People who can put themselves in the place of other people who can understand the workings of their minds, need never worry about what the future has in store for them.”

    Best wishes,

  8. Dear Ana, what a wise reflection! If only this way of thinking were more widespread, life would be easier to live. As it is, the most frequent words spoken to psy professionals are "stress", "panic attack", and "anxiety." The three of them are related, and some relief can be offered, but not until individuals are willing to work on their inner causes seriously will they find the peace of mind to face the future free of worries. The first step is the present, heavily encumbered by the past.

  9. Hi Marta, Just back from my travels and thanks for your comments on my work. I tend to think that the ability to manage stress runs parallell with self awareness and that many illnesss/conditions are self inflicted. It is all too easy to lose touch with our real being and debilitate ourselves. We all need to take time to be still and feel/listen to what is going on inside us, recognise what is damaging and fine some inner harmony. I think the work you are doing here is of real value... With respect and best wishes Scott

  10. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Scott. I very much appreciate your input, and agree with your thoughts. Unfortunately, many people cannot see it this way, so that's why these books are written and, hopefully, read.