Thursday, April 10, 2008

learning to grieve well

Grieving isn't fun. It hurts. It takes the feminine soul into unknown waters where it makes one think they might drown.

Grieving is a must for personal growth and relational maturity.

What we don't grieve - we don't heal and area of our life where we don't heal - will spill over into how we "do relationships."

It matters to God how we do relationships and my son-in-law recently told me about a conference he went to where the speakers were addressing how we often relate to one another (in the community of faith) like we did in our family of origin. Ouch. He said the speakers were saying that God wants us to relate to each other according to Biblical principles and NOT family of origin.

I wonder if, because we don't grieve and thus don't heal if that's not why the Body (community of faith- followers of Jesus) keep trying to find a new community to join - because the old one touched on the place of pain not healed?

What's not grieved won't heal. What's not exposed won't heal. Hmmmm. . .

In my book Seven Spiritual Habits I wrote a chapter on Grieving and just felt led to share that chapter here today. I'm thinking there are some readers who are stuck and who haven't grieved and need some fresh perspective.

The habit of Growing in Relationships also includes the principle of giving yourself permission to grieve over losses of the past. Living life like a race detours the necessary soul work required to allow grief to do its perfect work to heal a wound.

Ingrid Trobish once wrote, “Only the one who is able to hurt is also allowed to heal.” That’s true isn’t it? Only when a wound is made can a scar grow flesh back together. Those hurts that have been grieved well heal the best.

Take a look at your body. Look at your scars. You may find one on your knee from a playground battle in kindergarten, or maybe one from burning yourself while baking cookies. I remember clearly when my left leg was scarred. It’s pretty faded now, but it took years to get that way. I’d been riding my bike as a nine-year old...and the rest you can imagine.

I’ll bet you could tell me all about what happened when you got your scars.

Life brings us other kinds of hurts, too. These are the kind that cut into the soul, leaving us wounded and in need of healing. Others don’t see these hurts, but we know they’re there. We feel them. Unlike watching the wound on my leg heal from my bicycle days, I couldn’t watch the wound in my heart (from the rejection of my divorce from my first marriage years ago) heal. It’s those cuts in the soul that seem to heal much more slowly. Sometimes they take a very, very long time.

Some physical injuries require a scab to be removed and an antibiotic and cleansing treatment to be applied, because the wound healed too quickly and infection is now oozing out from underneath the scab. It’s like that with emotional scars, too. When we ignore emotional injuries, and don’t provide the right atmosphere for healing, the “infection” will ooze out – in many different forms.

Unhealed wounds ooze with anger, bitterness, depression, resentment, or a refusal to get close to people, among other symptoms. Emotional injuries that haven’t healed properly deeply affect our relationships today.

Where are your emotional scars: loss of childhood, insecurity as a child, sexual violation, death of a parent, abandonment, sixth-grade ridicule and teasing, a first-love experience, abortion, a phantom mom, an uninvolved dad, divorce, loss of a sense of who you are, or…?

Unless you allow grieving to do its deep work of healing in your emotional injuries, it will be difficult for scars to fade; and there will be some type of detrimental effect.

How do you know what needs to be grieved?

Wherever there is loss, there is an element of grief that needs to be processed.

As you continue in the days to come, begin thinking about some of your emotional injuries. If a little pressure in an area causes pain, perhaps the Great Physician wants to bring healing by taking you to a deeper level or to a place that you have never been. Be open to it. He’s always gentle in His leading. Here’s a little list of where emotional injuries may lie: death, divorce, a child leaving home, a child going to school, a new job, moving, abortion, miscarriage, loss of a job, or changing churches, are just a few.

Now, let’s try to understand what grief is and what we do with it.
Grief is the combination of sorrow, strong emotion, and the resulting confusion that comes from loss of someone or something important to us. Grief affects each of us in different ways. It can cause a heart to be shut down emotionally and leave us with a sense of intense aloneness.

When a heart (an emotion) is shut down, our relationships are impacted. Not only does a deep, internal sadness prevent healthy, empathetic connection, but it reduces our capacity to enjoy life. Grief not dealt with but stuffed can result in depression. You can know that someone is experiencing depression when they continue to “live in 1996” ~ or whenever it was that a significant loss occurred.

Becoming a Principled, On-Purpose women requires that we take an honest look at significant losses in our lives, not for the purpose of digging up and wallowing, but to allow Jesus - Who heals, to touch any undealt-with wounds so that we can move forward with His purposes in mind. The last thing we want to do is to stay stuck, reduce the explosion of joy in our souls, or not press in to all that God has for us. Grieving is a good thing. When we grieve well, it propels us forward to the good character changes that He has for us.

So, may you learn to not fear grieving and may you grieve well.

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nikkis30by30 said...

My grandmother is currently dying from cancer and brain atrophy (Undiagnosed Alzheimer's). My cousin found this post and shared it with me. Isn't it amazing how God works through our angels? Thank you for posting this. It makes me feel so much more.... normal to know that what I am feeling and how I am acting isn't "wrong".

May the Lord continue to bless you. You are a wonderful writer. I will be back. Thank you.

Lylah said...

hi dear one ~ first, i'm so sorry with the loss of your grandmother. it's so hard no matter how you "cut it." second, i'm so delighted that i could be instrumental in letting you know that you're O.K. in the process.

may the Lord minister His sweet abiding grace to you and your family in this time. lylah

azrosie said...

Lylah, Thanks so much for sharing your post on Grieving. My husband of 30 years died 2 years and 9 months ago. Being thrust into this journey called Grief for over the past two years has really been a time when I have had to allow the grief to come and REALLY TRUST GOD that He will walk this grief process out with me. I can really relate to being "stuck" in grief, being there and done that. Also, it is so true that Grief can cause our heart to shut down emotionally and leave us with an intense sense of loneliness. I have walked through that this year and being dealing with the loneliness lately. Our God is Good! and has brought friends to walk along side me and show me that it is okay to grieve and it does take time. I have learned that grieving is necessary for me to continue to move forward, putting one foot in front of the other. Thank you for posting this it really helps me to realize that I am doing okay and that grieving is sometimes necessary to help us heal through a loss of a loved one. May the Lord Bless you as you minister to so many of us through your writings. I will be back to visit.

Lylah said...

hi dear rose...thanks so much for honoring me with your lylah blog visit. i so appreciate your heart comments of the reality of how hard it is to go through the process of grief.

love to u....lylah