Some thoughts on Grief
It's something we've acknowledged needs to happen when any traumatic event or loss occurs in our lives. But I wonder if we really internalize what that means and how to go through it.
Brene Brown says that there are two things human beings fear the most: shame and grief. At first when I heard this I thought, "What?! Our society is always talking about grief!" For instance, I think we've all heard about the"steps of grieving," right? And when someone has a loved one die we "allow" them time to grieve and understand that they need to go through the process (actually, we encourage them to go through the process). So, what is it that Brown means when she says that grief is something most people fear?
My Own Rumble with Grief
I recently had an experience where I needed to "rumble with grief" (to use Brown's words). A few weeks ago I had my third consecutive miscarriage. After two years of waiting and wanting, I assumed this time around it was going to be great! Finally, we were going to have our little caboose....or not. For that first week, I cried. I was angry. I was confused. I questioned. And I cried some more. After the week was over, I gave myself a "pep" talk and was ready to put that all behind me and move on.
That worked for a couple of days. The next Monday hit and I was right back to that dark abyss. For two days I fought the darkness and was so mad that I couldn't just "shake it off." Tuesday night a friend came with a little care package and we sat to visit. We talked about grief a little bit, but I still didn't acknowledge that was something I needed to do. I'm a very emotive person, so holding back emotions was not something I thought I had a problem with. Plus, I'd had my week of crying, that should have been enough...so I thought.
The next morning I did some yoga (for the first time in a few weeks) and also listened to a session of this meditation series. In the meditation message Chopra asked, "What emotion are you afraid to express?" Instantly I knew that I really was afraid to grieve. I started to cry...and cry...and cry. After acknowledging all of the things I was grieving (because, yes, I was still holding onto some grief I've had with moving), I felt so much better.
But why was I afraid to grieve in the first place? As I've thought about this I realized that for me grieving was a sign of weakness. It was a sign of ingratitude, "Why cry about that when you have so much else going for you?" This goes hand in hand with the (sometimes erroneous) thought that with the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation we shouldn't be sad. I also was raised with the "buck up" mentality, "Don't dwell too much on your struggles; be positive!"
Grieving isn't a One Time Event
One of the biggest lessons I've learned these past two weeks is that oftentimes grieving isn't just a one time event. Grieving isn't something I can do by shutting myself in my room for a few weeks until I'm "done." I need to allow myself to grieve when the moment to grieve hits me.. I can find joy in living while still having moments of grief. We can still enjoy our days amidst the pain that fills our hearts.
In an excellent talk given by Elder Richard G. Scott, he counsels, "Don't let the workings of adversity totally absorb your life. Try to understand what you can. Act where you are able; then let the matter rest with the Lord...Please learn that as you wrestle with a challenge and feel sadness because of it, you can simultaneously have peace and rejoicing (italics added)."
Yes, my heart is truly broken. Many days I feel overwhelmed with sadness, doubt, questions and confusion. Other days I feel light and love from a Father in Heaven who is constantly pouring down His blessings upon me. Grief is not something to be feared, but rather one of the many reasons we are here in mortality in the first place. Feeling that pain only gives us more compassion for others and even more hope in a Savior who will make it all work out in the end. Grief is not, as I'd falsely believed, a lack of faith. Rather, it's a special kind of pain that causes us to reach more earnestly for an intimate relationship with God. At least, that is what it has been for me.
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"Our silence about grief serves no one. We can't heal if we can't grieve; we can't forgive if we can't grieve. We run from grief because loss scares us, yet our hearts reach toward grief because the broken parts want to mend. C.S. Lewis wrote, 'No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.' We can't rise strong when we're on the run." - - Brene Brown, Rising Strong, p. 139