by Donna Gibbs
I remember when my youngest son was 1 year of age. Like all young ones, he expressed all emotions equally…he responded at equal pitch whether his emotion was sad, happy, hungry, mad, etc… Isn’t it interesting how the older we get, the less balance we have in expressing emotion? We are socialized to express positive emotions loudly, but negative emotions are to be suppressed. Think of our cliché, “Laugh and the whole world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone”.
Yet, we know that there is a time for every event in life…and grief is just as normal as eating and sleeping. Grief is inevitable this side of eternity. ALL of us will face some form of grief in this lifetime. That grief will represent some type of loss: death, divorce, job loss, infertility, betrayal, trauma, etc… When grief does hit, we are likely to experience a variety of jumbled and unpredictable emotions: confusion, apathy, sorrow, rage, guilt, jealousy, helplessness, loneliness, sadness, disappointment, fear, inadequacy, rejection, distrust, etc.. In fact, you are likely to feel emotions that you’ve never experienced before; and to a depth you didn’t previously know was possible. You may even feel that you are going insane. Recovery from grief to growth doesn’t require a special skill or degree….it just means processing what you feel when you feel it. This takes time, and in some situations may require the help of a professional. The old cliché, “Time heals all wounds” is simply not true. Sure, time can sometimes take the edge off of our pain, but you and I have both seen some old, bitter people – time alone did not serve them well. It is what we do within a period of time that brings healing.
Here are a few additional tools that may be of help:
1) Journal – dedicate this to your journey to growth
2) Connect with others through church and support groups
3) Avoid premature decisions
4) Eat nutritiously, Rest, and Exercise (grief is stressful to the immune system)
5) Talk about your losses and begin building new memories
6) Communicate with (and nurture relationships with) the loved-ones you still have
7) Don’t confuse feelings with facts. Believe against the grain, cling to God when you can’t see what’s ahead and you don’t feel like clinging.
8) Be careful with the question “Why?”. This often leads to an unproductive quest, and a quick trip to depression. Replace this quest with the question, “What now?”
If you are concerned about someone else who is grieving, make sure you listen, without condemnation. Allow them to grieve. Share memories and stories – it is helpful to them to be able to talk about their losses. Give practical help with chores and daily demands. Offer a touch when there are no words. Don’t use clichés or pat theological answers – those are rarely helpful, and often hurtful and offending. Check on them during painful holidays and anniversary dates. In the end, don’t underestimate the simple importance of your presence and relationship with them. God has created us to share burdens together!
For more information regarding bouncing back from life’s hurts, check out Becoming Resilient, written by Donna Gibbs, at https://www.becomingresilientbook.com.
Donna Gibbs, co-owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC, is author of the recent releases, Silencing Insecurity and Becoming Resilient. Donna has authored numerous other books, and is commonly featured on radio broadcasts across America, and occasionally internationally as well. Donna has been providing individuals and families the hope and help they need for twenty years as a national certified counselor, board-certified professional Christian counselor, and licensed professional counselor supervisor. A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), she is a leading professional provider for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuum, FINDINGbalance, and Samaritan’s Purse.
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