Grief: something I wish no one ever had to deal with. At the age of 29, I never thought I would have lost two very important people in my life. I look back at how I grieved the loss of my grandmother and now my uncle and at times I would find myself frustrated and angry with God. Frustrated of the unknown. The tests that did not get to happen, the unanswered lab results, and the other unknown questions. Although I know they are both with my heavenly father, I was frustrated that I did not spend as much time with them, that I worked more than taking the time off to visit them. I was angry that I had to live through holidays and big events without them cheering me on or walking through the difficult parts of life with me.
There’s no other way to say it, but loss is painful. When we think about loss, we most often think of an actual passing, a loss that is identified with the individual or loved one no longer being here on Earth. I’d like to point out, however, that loss comes in many forms and, often times, those losses can feel almost as significant. In fact, you are experiencing a death of some kind; one that must also be grieved.
The way our minds process grief and loss truly is interesting. I recently heard that research studies have shown through brain scans that the loss of a relationship looks the same as an addict who is experiencing withdrawal. When our brains are missing what once was, the brain will release the same chemicals that indicate a “need” for whatever that “thing” is. We miss the familiarity, the comfort, the habits and the routine that the partner, job, drug, etc provided.
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” – C.S. Lewis
Often times when we think about grief, we think about the loss of a person, specifically a loved one. While this can be true, grief also encompasses many other aspects of life. In processing grief we will consider not only the loss of that person, home, pet, career, business, etc. but also the loss of future dreams, plans, and hopes, and more expansive ramifications of loss. Some of these things you may be aware of and others might be lying just under the surface.
Life is hard and seems to just get harder. And as I write these words, I feel like I understand this now, more than ever. This last month has been one of the most difficult for me, personally. At its worst, the month has come with unexpected losses, grief, terror and pain. Even as a counselor with a long list of “coping skills,” it would still be easy to let circumstances overwhelm me, because life is hard. However, I believe I have the choice, just like anyone else, to choose to suffer well. And I believe the core of this includes embracing pain and suffering. It sounds backwards and unpleasant. But what I have found to be true is this –
Those who embrace suffering, feel better quicker.