The term archetype is derived from the studies and writings of psychologist Carl Jung who believed that archetypes are part of humanity’s collective unconscious or memory of universal experiences.
Characters, images or themes that symbolically embody universal meanings and basic human experiences, independent of time or place, are considered archetypes.
Grief is a perfect example of a basic and universal human experience. Through the use of grief archetypes in psychotherapy, you can deepen your understanding of your grief process and how to cope with overwhelming grief emotions.
Allow Me To Introduce You to The Collector Archetype
The second grief archetype to emerge during grief is what I call The Collector.
At the beginning stages of grief, it’s normal for you to cling to the physical objects that your loved one left behind
Their clothing, jewelry and things that they used every day like their wallet, house keys as well as trinkets and gifts that they gave you- all of these things take on a deeper meaning for you when you lose your special person.
As someone grieving, I know that you may be scrolling through texts or sorting through cards and letters that were exchanged between you and your loved one; and you’re savoring every last word that was exchanged between the two of you.
You are probably accumulating photos of your loved one so you can relive all the memories and study the contours of their face…their smile…the light in their eyes.
Transitional Objects in Grief
As humans, we are here on earth having a physical experience so it’s natural to cling to the physical objects that your loved one left behind when they departed from this material world.
All these things that I’m talking about are called Transitional Objects.
The concept of the transitional object was initially started by a British psychoanalyst named Donald Winnicott.
Essentially, a transitional object is a thing that is utilized by a child to ease the anxiety of separating from their mother/primary caregiver.
In children, these could be blankets, teddy bears or other toys.
Children have these transitional objects until they have mastered a safe and sturdy internal symbolization of their mother/primary caregiver that gives them comfort and makes them feel safe.
This concept of the Transitional Object is similar in grief for obvious reasons.
When you lost your loved one, life changed. Your anxiety level has gone up and you’re trying to control and contain the huge emotions and changes that came about after your loss. Transitional objects help us to soothe ourselves during grief.
Likewise, you are probably sad or even depressed because you miss your special person and may even be a little obsessed over anything that brings you closer to the one you miss so terribly.
I get it. You’re human. And I want you to grieve like a human.
But, after the beginning stages of grief, after some time passes and you begin processing your feelings about the loss- talking to others and expressing your emotions about your personal loss- just like a child who creates an internal symbol of his mother to create a sense of safety and comfort in her absence, I want you to allow yourself to release the grip that you have on those transitional objects that you’re holding on to.
Three Ways The Collector Archetype Impedes Grief
1, Connecting to objects and memories are more important to you than living in the present moment. You are disconnected from the people in your life.
2. Your living environment is compromised because you have accumulated a lot of stuff that you deem vital when, in reality, is not true.
3. You experience feelings of guilt when you even think about purging some of your loved one’s objects.
Lighten Your Load and Move Through Grief
- Start creating healthy boundaries around what objects connected to your loved one TRULY bring you joy and purge the rest,
- Start experiencing pleasure in your life by cultivating relationships with your friends and family and start creating new memories in your life
If you feel overwhelmed with grief and you would like to start healing your wounds through therapy, let’s connect. If you are ready to make a change in your life, I can help.
I offer in person and virtual therapy sessions- let’s do what’s best for you. If you are interested in speaking to me to see if we would be a good fit, please reach out. Contact me to schedule a complementary 15 minute phone consultation.
I look forward to hearing from you.