A man I work with came up with this phrase, “stuck grief.” He was referring to himself and why he was having trouble with near psychotic thinking. The “crazy” thoughts were preferable to recognizing what they symbolized: another extremely painful memory of abuse from his father. He was saying, very articulately, what was going on inside himself: stuck, or unexpressed (and surely unresolved) grief.
I realized that stuck grief was the basis for what goes on in therapy sessions including all of our histories and especially forgotten, denied or ignored incidents and realities. People avoid what brings pain, and until they have dealt with the pain and resolved it, they tend to continue what ever emotional habits maintain their avoidance Even very high functioning adults, maintain unhealthy behaviors because they are not willing to face the truth of their childhoods. Sometimes it is loss of the relationship with their families that they fear, or having to confront the imperfection of their parents. Ultimately It turns out to be an avoidance of growing up.
If someone has something that needs grieving, and they avoid the recognition and therefore the grieving, I call that stuck grief. It is accompanied by some behaviors that aren’t healthy for the person, their children, their spouse, their customers, business associates, someone. They often use an addiction to keep the pain out of their awareness, like drug or alcohol use, over working, lots of sex. It can become confusing to tell the difference between what you need with what is best for your children, and a handing down of all kinds of human distress.
Stuck grief buried within a person can become the basis for just about anything that might bring someone into therapy. This is why doing therapy takes courage, and a different kind of courage than many people are familiar with. So, if you are looking for more than a bandaid, if you really want to understand yourself and make significant change, pick your therapist, your guide, carefully.