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You're Not Crazy     

No you’re not crazy. The idea of death and loss is so surreal that those left behind may be left feeling like they are having an out of body experience.  “I’m here, but why do I feel like I’m numb, just floating through my day?”   Have you ever picked up the phone to call someone only to realize they won’t answer because they died?  I have.  THAT’S surreal.  Someone that was a huge part of my life and someone that I relied on, will no longer be answering my calls.  I can’t say “remember when?” Or ask the answer to the questions I just know that they would know the answer to.  I went on to berate myself for being so dumb as to not realize that the person was gone.  “You seriously picked up the phone?  Ugh-stupid. You were at the funeral were you not??  How do you ‘forget’ someone has died?”

 Well, I’ll tell you how.  The people you love change every aspect of your life.  Your family, your friends, anyone in your circle enters your life and changes you in such a way that you come to depend on them.  They are habit forming, in a wonderful, brilliant, fill-you-up sort of way.  We learn at a very young age who we can depend on, who is safe, and who will care for us.  It strikes at the heart of, well, your heart.   The people in your circle are there because in some area they fulfill a basic need.  You receive from them comfort… opinions… knowledge… love… admiration…a million things. And then when you get these wonderful fill-you-up things you come to depend on it, almost the way you depend on air to breathe.   The only crazy part is that you don’t realize the extreme depth of this reliance until you don’t have it (or them) anymore… and You. Can’t. Breathe.  So what then?

That, my dear grieving friends, is when the work of ‘grief’ begins.  Nobody, and I mean nobody goes willingly into the work of grief.  Any time you are separated from something you love (and it could be a person, a pet, a job, an idea, or even a way of life)…that separation will cause you grief.  The work of grief is an arduous one. It absolutely is work.  It can be an emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental workout that closer resembles a marathon rather than a sprint.  You can fight it, if you want to.  You can dig your heels in and refuse to accept what is. You can blame other people if you want to.  Blame circumstances, and woulda, shoulda, coulda all over the place.  That is your choice in grief.  You get to do it however you want to.  But today I’m going to suggest this… to ‘work’ through grief is not to resist your sadness, your loss, and your despair.  Working through grief does not involve stuffing it so far into your soul that you manage to turn the tear ducts off and “get back to normal”.  I’m going to suggest that ‘normal’ doesn’t exist for you anymore--at least not the old normal.  Also know that as long as it is stuffed-it is still there. It will resurface, usually in ways that are unexpected, unwelcomed and sometimes overwhelming.

But what if you surrendered?  You don’t have to like it, but what if you simply accepted what is and surrendered to the fact that you are in this place? This is your life now.  I know some of you are saying-“But I don’t want to!!”  And that’s okay, that is where you are for now.   Others are saying “but I have accepted it, I just have no idea how to go forward!” and I love you for that.  THAT is where grief work begins.   I am not flippant about this subject.  It can take many people a long time to get to the place of ‘surrender to what is’.  I’m going to suggest that the length of time it takes you to get to the point of surrender, will directly correlate with the length of time you spend in turmoil.  Looking back at various stages of grieving I have experienced, my surrender finally came when I realized that the events of my life happened exactly according to plan.  Not MY plan, but THE plan. “I JUST DIDN’T KNOW THAT WAS THE PLAN.”  Sometimes I scream those words, sometimes I sob those words, and other times I simply whisper those words.  When you can finally surrender to that idea, that’s when you will start to see that flicker of hope.  The tears can come, the scream of despair can release.  “I just didn’t know that was how the story ended”.  It sounds like bad lyrics from a love song-only now those words might be real to you. So now that you know how it ends, what will you do with that? 

Have mercy… on yourself. Be patient with yourself.  Do not succumb to any sort of timeline imposed by others. If you can’t function, reach out.  If you struggle with suicide, ask for help. Talk. Be quiet. Cry. Sleep. Remember. Choose your recovery. There is no handbook for grieving, no ‘right’ way to do it. Most of all love yourself through the process, be kind to yourself through this process…and breathe.

When we don't see grief as a problem to be solved, but instead as an experience to be supported, loved and witnessed-then we can really talk about what helps. When we stand on the same ground together, our words and actions can be truly supportive and useful.

-Megan Devine

And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

-Romans 8:26

New Articles

What is grief work and how do we do it?

  “Working through your grief” is a great catch phrase-but what does it mean? …

What is grief work and how do we do it?

  “Working through your grief” is a great catch phrase-but what does it mean?  Most people in grief have such physical manifestations that the thought of ‘working’ through anything is paralyzing.  Many can’t get out of bed much less get to ‘work’. 

  So let’s look at what work is… We call it WORK because it’s hard.  It takes effort. It’s taxing.  We usually don’t want to do it.  It’s something that, given the choice, many would avoid.  It’s physically exhausting and mentally draining.  Many do work because someone else tells them to do something.   Does that sound a little like grief to anyone else?

   The term grief work is appropriate-because for many it is all of the above.   It’s hard and takes effort. It’s taxing and we don’t really want to do it.  If we could, we would avoid it.  It’s physically exhausting and mentally draining.  Some do it because others tell them they should be doing it and ‘getting over it.’ But if we really dug in to grief work—what is it?  A better question may be, what is our desired outcome after having worked through grief?  That could be difficult to verbalize for many.  What is it you want?  You can’t have your loved one back, so aside from that what do you want?   Things cannot go back to how they previously were-realistically.  So what else do you want?

  I think many would say that they want the ache in their chest to resolve.  They want to wake up and not feel the despair and loneliness.  They want to think of their beloved and not weep uncontrollably. They want the socked-in-the- gut feeling to go away.  They want to make more memories with their loved one.  They want the lump in their throat to release. They want their legs to not weigh 200lbs a piece.  They want to WANT to get out of bed-because right now they don’t. They want love. They want peace. They want solace.   And before they can fathom JOY they want the desperate hurt to release, to dissolve, and give way to feelings of peace and tranquility. 

  It is so tempting to stifle grief because it is work.  But it’s more than that… for many the stifling is a coping mechanism.  The mountainous waves of grief threaten to overtake us if we face all of our grief at once, or look straight into the face of grief.  By evading some of our new reality it helps us survive, at least for now.  The realness of what has happened waits just around the corner so if I don’t make the turn…

   To change the way we grieve, maybe we can change our language around grieving.  Instead of grief work maybe it’s a grief journey?  Have you had the opportunity to grieve?  Doesn’t sound like much of a blessing does it...  I’m going to suggest that maybe grieving is a privilege.  It’s a sacred privilege given to those favored enough to have loved another person so completely. 

  By committing to a grief journey, your mind may respond with fear and resistance.  But If you allow the resistance and fear to overpower you, you cut yourself off from the very power that will ultimately aid in healing.  Denial is also a powerful and seductive force, but feeling the feelings of grief allow you stay connected to your deepest self.  Being in touch with your deepest self allows you to access all of the tools you need for healing. 

  When my grandmother was dying in the hospital I took the opportunity to write her a letter telling her everything she meant to me throughout my life.  She insisted I read it to her out loud.  I could barely get out the words through my tears.  After I finished, she very softly but deliberately said, “Your tears are like jewels”.   So it is with you my friend. Your tears are like jewels.  Each tear is precious, and a precious reminder that the love you felt cannot and will not be stifled within you-it is literally bursting out of your soul.  If you are in grief, you are in transformation.  You are new; you are changed; you are reborn.  Don’t turn away from this opportunity for growth.  It is okay to embrace the preciousness of your sadness. 

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