Grief is horrible, and so much of what is produced and spoken of regarding grief is dealing with the death of a loved one, and this is necessary and good.
For me and for many grief is a result of unprocessed death, past hurts and trauma, and current losses that are not death but have all the practical consequences of death.
Loss of friends. Hurt. Loss of work. Loss of health. The threat of loss. Possibility of loss. Unprocessed trauma.
The. Body, Keeps. The. Score.
The wise Creator Jesus made us for glory, and sin has wrecked so much, and that wrecking ball taken to us has caused the need for us to work out the pain of loss.
Emotions can shut me down and the reason is that somehow, and I don’t know how I learned this at 4 years old, I was able to ignore them and move forward. The only problem is that I only moved forward physically not emotionally. So, complex emotions and I are not friends. Yet, they are mine and part of me. They are there and I have to learn them and deal with them.
2021 was the year that my body, in keeping score for 45 years, decided it was going to save me from me. The complex nature of the past 3 years of beginning to process my childhood was only exacerbated by external challenges that became the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.
I completely broke down and shut down and was in need of professional help. I’m saying this publicly here because it’s good for me, and I’ve said it to my church and my pastors and close friends who have shepherded me through this season. My counselor even told me it’s good to “out yourself” so people can understand and also help. AND the truth is that I’m not alone. I know there are others who have been hurt and wounded and are processing it all.
As I heal up, emotions have not gone away. Those pesky things are still there and that is because God made us capable of them as he himself expresses them and we are created in his image, so we express them.
For me, grief has come in waves and it comes as a ball of emotions that I have a hard time identifying. The flood of these emotions is no longer able to be pushed down. God has, in his good grace, not allowed my body to do that anymore, and he is graciously working me through leaning into them and experiencing them and naming them and getting them out.
God has given me an awesome wife, an awesome church family, an awesome doctor, and an awesome counselor to work physical healing and emotional recovery. I’m grateful for these means of his grace to me. But it is work.
Perhaps you are grieving and it’s a struggle. You are having to work. Here are some tips from this traveler on the same road.
- Don’ run from the feelings and don’t ruminate on them either.
- Feel them. Call them something even if you call them the wrong things. Just name what you are feeling.
- Eat as healthy as you can.
- Put your mind on Philippians 4:8 stuff. Philippians 4:8 (ESV) 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
- Surround yourself with people who are good for you and good to you. None of us are obligated to allow people who hurt us, whether on purpose or not, to keep introducing hurt. Exercise good boundaries with the right openings you control to let the right people in.
- Shut out the negative by exercising self-control over your thoughts. If you have some well-worn thought patterns that are negative, then it will take some work to get out of those patterns into more healthy patterns that feed you life, but it can be done, and it’s work. Just keep working.
- Pray. Tell the Lord Holy Spirit what you are feeling. Ask him to carry all of it for you and help you heal.
- Have fun. Do something that is a joy and creates laughter and a good distraction.
- Know that you are unique and will grieve differently and that no one process that works for one will work for all, but if you’ll let it come and exercise self-control with your thoughts, you will get through it. I’ll get through it.
Know that while I write this like I know what I’m talking about, I’m just wrestling through it. NOT AN EXPERT. These are simply some of the things that have been helpful for me. Not exhaustive, I’m sure. And maybe someone will read this who thinks its garbage. That’s ok. Maybe these suggestions will be helpful for you.