While this overall blog is about amplifying good, and grief is definitely a downer, there are good/better ways of dealing with it that I feel need highlighting at this time.
I’ve learned this important thing about dealing with people going through grief: that it needs to be acknowledged. Don’t worry about finding the right words to say because there are simply no right words. But don’t avoid reaching out, as inept as you feel. “I’m so sorry; I wish I knew what to say,” at the first opportunity you have in speaking to the bereaved will do just fine.
Ignoring grief makes it worse. That is not only true for the bystanders unwittingly magnifying the remorse of those sorrowing, but it is especially true for those in the throes of bereavement.
Don’t try to ignore grief and push it down. You can’t get around it, under it, climb over it, elude it, delude it, or hide it– you need to face it head on and go through it, whether on a straight or meandering path, out the other side. There is no other way.
This may not be a popular stance for those deniers out there, but there is no denying it is true. Sometimes, when faced squarely and bravely with an open heart, the process can be astonishingly short. There is no guilt in it being too quick or too long. Whatever duration, don’t judge yourself, just give yourself the room you need.
COVID has given us a year of record deaths, full of unfathomable numbers of them. There are a lot of grieving hearts out there! But I’m not just thinking of physical deaths. COVID has exacerbated many a marriage too- to the breaking point. My phone has been full of it lately: separations, legal battles, messy divorces, abuse, mental illness breaking families, rampant hopelessness– even incest and suicide. People are struggling, and not just regarding people passing on. There are all kinds of losses to feel anguish about.
They are angry, yearning to feel loved, wanting justice, and feeling none. Grieving, is the best word for it. What can be said?
Grief is misery at having to deal with a hand you didn’t want dealt. Grief is feeling left behind, violated, disillusioned that your innocence or your future has been reshaped in a way you did not authorize. Grief is feeling separated, uncertain, confused, and removed from good. Grief is usually not about the other person. It is more about us.
Face it. Survive. Take the long view. Make a God out of the solution, and not of the problem. Refuse to have a victim mentality. You deserve love, and you will both find it and feel it, but nothing will ever make evil, error, sin or sickness alright. It is good you can’t reconcile yourself to any of that.
For now, avoid bitterness. Resentment is a parasitic evil that will hurt you more than whatever you are angry at. Be patient with yourself. Take one step at a time. Never mind that coping looks like wallowing for a while. It is not and you know it isn’t. You know that continuing at all is an act of super-human bravery. It may feel like you are knee deep in molasses wading slowly uphill for a while. There is no shame in taking whatever time that you need. Ironically, if you don’t resist the process, the molasses loosens and melts more quickly, and you’ll move along faster.
The death of a person, or a marriage, or a dream, hits us hard because it is a violation of our expectations. An aberration happened that doesn’t fit with our ingrained worldview. A shift has to take place, and we call that a time of mourning, a period of readjusting, transition, and reassessing. If faced, allowing yourself whatever you need in the meantime to feel without judgement all your genuine feelings, this crucible time takes you out of pain and suffering to a fresh outlook. You need that.
Rise in rebellion to anything unlike good. Be grateful you cared, and decline any suggestion that you are paying a price for having cared. You are not. Caring is the right thing, and you will see your way through to trusting that fact again. Eventually you’ll get to forgiveness, once you get past the raspingly raw part. That’s a whole other conversation.
Meanwhile, feel reassured that life goes on, in a persistent arc of progress. Those at fault will get their just reward eventually. Solutions will surface and answers will be found. Don’t lose heart. You will smile again, and be amazed at the good you’ll live to see.
It will be worth it digging out of this anguished place. God hears the sound of your lamentations. Those that mourn are promised comfort. Infinite, all-powerful, good does win. God is an ever-present help, responding directly to your need. And all during, you are surrounded by angels– often unawares– both in human allies holding you (either in person or in prayer), and in divinely whispered thoughts signaling you how to go higher.
Don’t fear, even though it is dark right now. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Move forward toward the faintest glimmer without excuses, and without concern for what others are thinking of you in this situation. They are not you, and your superpower is that you are and know best what you truly need. In direct proportion to your genuine authenticity, integrity, and patience, you will find functional consolation. Bless you on this hard, well-trod path. My heart goes out to you.