Saudade, nostalgia and grieving healthily


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Question:

“Saudade is a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one cares for and/or loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return. I find myself obsessing and ruminating at certain times. Advice is welcome.”

Dr. Miller Response:

Saudade, is an experience of your essence, an emotional memory of a time when your soul was alive, and vibrantly so. Remember how focused you were and how time flew by, or simply disappeared? Saudade is a recognition of your potential to be in the moment, a time when the universe offered you a special glimpse into what you are capable of.

Grieving Healthily

There is sadness, this is a healthy part of the grief response. Grief is a naturally occurring response just as anger, anxiety, fear, and suspiciousness are. All of these responses can be lifesaving in certain situations, such as the kinds of situations that we faced hundreds of thousands of years ago, when they developed. Each has its proper use and each has a “pathological form.” Rage, for example, is the pathological form of anger, panic reaction of anxiety, phobia of fear. Depression, self-pity, and obsession over the past are pathological reactions to ungrieved loss.

Healthy grief involves:

  1. The acknowledgement of what has been lost.
  2. Feeling the love that connected you to that person or situation.
  3. Feeling the pain and going through the phases of grief. Often some variety of denial, bargaining, anger, depression; and finally, acceptance, gratitude for having been given this extraordinary opportunity, and spiritual/psychological growth. The purpose is to release the physical manifestations of the loved object while honoring and embracing the spirit that was awakened.

This affirms the ability you have to feel such deep appreciation, connection, love, and gratitude. Now, emptied out through the power of grieving. You are aware of your ability to bond deeply, and are susceptible of finding a new, perhaps even deeper love.

Of course letting go is something we do not learn enough about. In our culture, “he who dies with the most toys wins.” “More is better.” “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” “Second place is just the first loser.” Not much support in our culture for losing, much less the notion of growing through loss and grieving. But if the rule is to cling to what you have and not accept loss under any circumstances. You have nowhere to go when life’s unavoidable losses come along. Furthermore, even if you avoid lifelong depression, you will tend to avoid new love, fearing that another loss would be devastating.

Learning from Grief

It is vital to realize that we are born with clenched fists but we die with empty hands. You can’t take anything with you. Everything you now have, no matter how beautiful it is or how much you cling to it. You will one day have to lose. If you do not know how to lose, then you are guaranteed a most painful aging and end to your life. Listen to: Accepting Change, Moving On. Or you can transform it through music as did Jobim, Chega de Saudade.

 


I am here to answer your questions about Deep Healing and Mind/Body Medicine. In a world besieged by specialists, my goal has been to address that little something that has disappeared from most specialties—the patient!

Send in your questions to [email protected] and I will select a few to answer. They may appear here or I might record my answer and share it on my YouTube.com channel. All personal information will be kept confidential.

Some of the following questions and answers were inspired by clients, conversations and some from Reddit threads. See my Reddit posts here.

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