The TIME Approach to Grief Support (BOOK EXCERPT, PT 8)
The Book Stop Blog is featuring excerpts from The TIME Approach to Grief Support by Edmund Ng and WinePress Publishing.
Most of us do not know how to grieve properly following a significant loss. Typically, we either try our best to bypass the pain, get busy to forget about it, or merely suppress the grief. In other words, there are two responses to our grief that are most common. One is just feeling sorrowful and wallowing in self-pity and regret. The other is putting up a brave front and trying not to think about the loss or feel it. Both responses are to be avoided, as they do not help us to recover from our grief. After some time, we may seem to be able to function externally, but the grief will not go away. This unresolved grief, like bitterness, will slowly eat into our bodies, and in later years, can cause people to suffer from depression, cancer, ulcers, or other mental and physical sicknesses.
Grieving over the loss of a loved one is a journey, and it does take time to grieve. The way forward is unclear, and the bereaved is often ill-prepared for it. Psalm 23:4 describes it as a process of walking through “the valley of the shadow of death.” It is a step-by-step journey that one must take on his or her own without rushing through. We may take two steps forward and fall back in the next. It may feel like the journey will last forever, but healing is taking place, and recovery eventually will come. God will turn our mourning into dancing, remove our sackcloth, and clothe us with joy (Ps. 30:11); but it will take time. Impatience to get out of grief quickly only will hinder the mourning process. In other words, there are no instant fixes for grief.
Why We Need to Grieve
When we miss a loved one whom we have lost, it is natural for us to feel sad and sorrowful. To recover from our grief, we must experience the pain of the grief to the fullest. We are most healed from our suffering only when we have embraced it completely. Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” In other words, if we do not mourn, we will not be comforted. In a deeper sense, if we do not mourn properly and completely, we will not be comforted fully.
Because we do not like the pain of our grief, it is a common response for us to fight against it. Fighting grief is like getting tensed up when the dentist is trying to pull out a tooth. It makes it more painful because our focus is on the pain. It is the same if we are very tense when someone massages our feet. We will feel more pain, but if we will just relax, the touch will become almost soothing. This is leaning onto our grief, experiencing it as a natural process, and letting it take us where it will. We can learn to accept grief in the same way that we embrace joy as a good emotion. Therefore, it is necessary to give ourselves permission, time, and space to grieve by accommodating the grief naturally. This applies especially to men who think that crying is a sign of weakness. to grieve by accommodating the grief naturally.
Norman Wright, a well-known Christian family therapist, explained, “The overall purpose of grief is to bring you to the point of making necessary changes so you can live with the loss in a healthy way.” According to Therese Rando, well known for her research on dying people, we express through grief our feelings about our loss, our protest at the loss, and the effects we have experienced from the loss.
Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, called our efforts to confront and experience our grief trauerarbeif or grief work. Grief work is defined as “a cognitive process involving confrontation with and restructuring of thoughts about the deceased, the loss experience, and the changed world within which the bereaved must now live” (Stroebe, 1992). A study by R.S. Weiss concluded, “... unless they carry out their grief work, they are likely to remain in a state of melancholia.”
To Continue Reading
The first excerpt in the series: