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Getting Through Family Pain

The downside of having close family relationships is that you will inevitably get hurt.  Even if no one tries to do it, it will certainly happen.  When you open your heart to relationships, the joy can be immeasurable.  But we naturally run the risk of being disappointed, experiencing loss, being shocked, and being scared out of our minds.  It’s not about how to avoid being hurt, it’s about how to cope with it.

There’s also more than one type of family pain.  Grief over the death of a loved one is usually about sadness and wishing the person were alive.  Pain from abuse, divorce, toxic relationships – that’s a different type of pain associated with low self worth and shame.  Things get even more complicated when the two are mixed.

This may or may not be a comforting thought to you, but it’s helped me when I have dealt with grief.  The more pain you feel, the more meaningful that person is (or was) to you.  So going through some really difficult days after something upsetting means you have a strong connection.

And yes, this can be true even when there was family chaos, addiction, or even abuse.  This can be so confusing – you may be glad that person’s influence is gone, but you may also be grieving for the few good memories there were and the things that can never be (admitting they were wrong, reconnection, being good to you, etc).

Of course, there are plenty of unhealthy ways to cope with pain in your family.  Heavy drinking and drug use, ignoring it, isolating yourself, taking it out on others, and the list goes on.  All of these are attempts to get away from the pain – a very understandable and logical reaction to having a lot of hurt in your heart.  But most of those choices simply add pain rather than truly giving you peace.

Choosing positive people to hang out with is a great antidote for family pain.  You create healthy social groups to help you cope with an unhealthy social group.  Or, if your family is close and healthy, reconnecting with them more can solidify your sense of belonging.

Spending time doing generous deeds helps build good relationships and resonates with your self worth.  You don’t just say good things, you show your true character by doing good things.  Try some of these things when you are dealing with pain in your family.  Fill up your injured soul with something good today.

Getting Through Family Pain


Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.


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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2009). Getting Through Family Pain. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 20, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/family/2009/09/getting-through-family-pain/

 

Last updated: 3 Sep 2009
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