Grief is a natural response to losing someone or something that is important.
According to Zisook & Shear (2009), mourning the death of a loved one or the ending of a relationship can be the most gut-wrenching and painful experience an individual will ever face. “Shock, anguish, loss, anger, guilt, regret, anxiety, fear, loneliness, unhappiness, depression, intrusive images, depersonalization, feelings of being overwhelmed, reduced cognitive functioning, loss of concentration, and preoccupation with thoughts and memories of the person can be emotions and behaviors experienced by the grieving person (Zisook & Shear, 2009). This pain shows no favoritism, affecting all classes of people in all cultures. Sorrow travels over physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, cultural, spiritual, and philosophical dimensions.
Dr. Phipps explains, “Grief is disrespectful. It demands to be recognized, acknowledged, and befriended. It shows up uninvited and is disruptive. It demands your attention and alters your life. It is a journey no one wants to walk but everyone is (or will be) called to walk it” (2018). Whether grief comes at the physical death of a loved one or the betrayal and loss of a relationship, 100% of people will experience grief in its raw, most painful form. Surrendering to the process of pain, acknowledging time is a curse and a gift, and utilizing safe people will allow the journey of grief to transition from excruciating to bearable.
Feel the pain. There is no way around the pain of loss. When something earth-shattering happens that brings a person to his or her knees, it cannot be ignored. It demands to be recognized. So, allow yourself to feel the pain. The emotional pain is from the inside out. It is like open-heart surgery. If the wound closes before healing from the inside out, the surgeons have to go back in and reopen the wound to allow it to heal. Sit with the pain. YES, it is horrible. It is ugly and it is uncomfortable. But ignoring, stuffing, and numbing the sorrow leads to a breakdown and not a breakthrough. Choosing to sit with the pain is the first step towards healing the pain (TerKeurst, 2018). If needed, seek out a professional counselor. We are trained to walk through the sacred spaces of grief with people.
Time is defined as the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future with it all regarded as a whole. Grief has now entered time and will affect the past, present, and future. Although you feel you can’t make it another minute, time will allow you to make it several more minutes, then hours, then days, months, and years. Time is the sacred space required to manage the pain. Other people, seasons of the year, weather, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. cannot dictate the amount of time it takes to grieve the loss of a relationship or loved one. If the purpose is in the process, time is the process and there are lessons to be learned. For some, the purpose of the grief may never be discovered. However, allow the process of time to bring healing, self-awareness, reflection, and new depths of love and blessings to your soul.
Finally, nurture safe friendships during this time. Allow reliable people to sit with you in your pain. God is able and willing to bring people to minister to you. Expect it! Allow it! Some will be acquaintances that are brought to share their stories. Some will be dear friends that will follow your lead and just BE with you. Some will come to serve you. Whether it is cleaning your house, preparing meals, or caring for kids, etc. don’t let pride keep you from accepting the help. Cognitive functioning is reduced. Allow these people into your circle. These people will show you who they are, and you should believe them. These are root friends.
People who are unable to empathize, those who feel their opinions are needed and necessary, and those who feel a need to pass judgment should be avoided. Don’t waste the energy to argue with these individuals or feel a need to correct them. Place your energy and focus on the people loving you with their actions, not their words.
Grief is ugly. It is painful, and it is guaranteed to befriend all of us. Love others well that are grieving. May those who are grieving leave your presence with peace and assurance they have been loved and loved well.
If you are experiencing grief, give yourself permission to sit in this hollow, ugly, sacred place so you can begin the healing process. Permit time to do its job and allow others to love and serve you. We will all have the opportunity to experience grief and then to love others well during their season of pain. If you are searching for support during a difficult time of grief, reach out to our office for professional counseling.
SureHope Counseling and Training Center 980-272-8180 or 704-443-8866
Additionally, support groups are listed below.
Live-evermore.org support groups for the loss of a child
Phipps, C. (2018, October 24). Status update text [Facebook update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/christa.phipps/posts/10214973000692950.
TerKeurst, L. (2018). It’s Not Supposed To This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered.
Zisook, S. Shear, K. (2009 June; 8(2): 67-74.World Psychiatry: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2691160/#_ffn_sectitle