There is a word out there that not many people know what to do with – Grief.
Actually people know the word, they do not know how to do the process of grief.
We hear it bounced back and forth as something we should and need to do – but what exactly is “grief”.
There was a time I got an excruciating pain in the top of my one leg that filtered right into my abdomen and down my leg in a way that sent me to the hospital. The pain was fierce, a shock wave of terror letting loose inside my body that was out of control.
After spending the day on morphine and running a battery of tests – they could not find anything physically wrong with me. After a day or so the pain went away, but I was left with the thought of what on earth had caused that pain and feared it would come back.
I was scheduled to see a counsellor that week for another reason and briefly mentioned the hospital visit in passing and she told me that the word that came to her was “grief”. Now I was totally ready to throw that definition out the window because how could the two be related?!
We prayed but the word stayed with me and it was like God would not let it leave. I took some time and pondered about “grief” – I did have some things that I had to deal with and then I came across this little book I had stuffed in a drawer – “Experiencing Grief” by H. Norman Wright ©2004 H. Norman Wright Published by B & H Publishing Group.
I picked it up and started to read – it is a small little book, 85 pages in length; I found it informative and wished everyone could read it, but it was not really for me – you know what I mean?
Then I turned to page 45…..
“I told God I was angry,
I thought He’d be surprised.
I thought I’d kept hostility
quite cleverly disguised.
I told the Lord I hate Him.
I told Him that I hurt.
I told Him that He isn’t fair,
He’s treated me like dirt.
I told God I was angry
But I’m the one surprised.
“What I’ve known all along,” He said,
“you’ve finally realized.”
“At last you have admitted
what’s really in your heart.
Dishonesty, not anger
was keeping us apart.
“Even when you hate Me,
I don’t stop loving you.
Before you can receive that love
you must confess what’s true.
“In telling me the anger
you genuinely feel.
It loses power over you,
permitting you to heal.”
I told God I was sorry
And He’s forgiven me.
The truth that I was angry
has finally set me free.
(Footnote in Experiencing Grief: Excerpt taken from Under His Wings by Patsy Clairmont www.healinghouse.org)
I can tell you the tears that had been pent up for some time broke loose when I read this poem and a dam burst inside me; someone had read my deepest most intimate thoughts and what was even more miraculous – God knew too!
With any loss in our life, job, marriage, children, health, money, pets…… if we are truly honest – we want a chat with God because we need to ask Him – ‘where were you that day?’ Or ‘ Hey God, did you see what just happened?’ Losses rock our world and cause us to question God’s goodness and shake our faith in Him to our very core. It causes us to question Gods’ trustworthiness. We find we cannot sing those “God is good” songs because we are not really sure at the moment.
But grief is good, it is the only way you will move on.
The opening illustration of this blog above gives us the stages of grief – counsellors and websites all talk about the “stages” of grief.
Then there was the picture that I identified with………………The messy one.
I was the mess and because it was a visual aid that said it was okay to be a “mess” – I got it – I was OKAY even if I was messy. There is no proper way to grieve. Yes there are stages, patterns you will go through but they are NOT in order and you might go through All or Some and some over and over and lots at the same time.
Grief can be messy and probably will be, life is messy too.
What I learned was - NOT grieving and keeping that pain inside can cause physical damage and pain to other parts of our body. When we are experience loss of any kind – we have to get it out in a healthy way because if we do not – it will come out itself in a physical way.
Let me give you a couple tidbits from the “Experiencing Grief” book:
“In a culture that does not like to acknowledge loss or talk about the impact, it’s difficult to grieve. And when we add this silence to the fact that most of us have never been taught the process and normalcy of grief, no wonder we struggle.” Page 1
“In grief, the bottom falls out of your world.” Page 3
“With any loss comes grief, and a companion of grief is pain. The pain of grief can be overwhelming. It’s like a visitor who has overstayed his welcome.” Page 9
“Grieving is a disorderly process. You won’t control it, nor can you schedule its expression.” Page 11
“Along this difficult journey many experience what we call a “grief spasm.” It’s alarming since it’s an intense upsurge of grief that happens suddenly and when least expected.” Page 18
“Guilt and shame walk their way into the grief process…. There is a sense of sadness, depression and despair.” Page 40 and 48
“It’s like learning to swim. You have to step into the water to begin the process.” Page 68
Oh my friends, grief is messy and it hurts – but truly if you have something to grieve or if you have had losses in your life - it hurts already, even if you do not acknowledge it. If this subject has touched or affected you in any way, I would ask that you consider talking to a counsellor, a trusted friend and getting a copy of the little “Experiencing Grief” booklet.
The really awesome thing about grief is that we each, yes, every one of us, will experience grief at some point or points in our life, we are surrounded by others who have been through it. While grief is an individual process and we each travel it differently, it is good consolation to know others have traveled it and survived.