By John Ashley
Grief has been defined as the process of dealing with the death of a dream. I have always thought that this definition is so appropriate. I mean, we grieve over many things in our lives: the loss of a loved one, the loss of a family pet, but also other unexpected losses like a job or a relationship. Grieving is a process, not a one day and it’s over process, it takes time, and how long the grieving process takes is different for every person and situation.
As we grieve we can become our own worse enemy, if you will, through the process. We can make things much harder on ourselves if we are not careful. I have come up with three things we should never do during the process of our grief. If we can avoid doing these things we will be able to grieve more healthfully and more completely.
- Don’t Deny Your Feelings – Far too often we believe we need to “Man up” through our grief and we end up stuffing our feelings, which in turn harms us and prolongs the grieving process. Many situations that come into our lives will cause us to question our decisions, our love for someone, our faith…things we have believed our entire lives. The “Why?” question comes up during our times of grief. We may think these things, but are unwilling to vocalize them. We need to be honest with ourselves and ask the questions. Most of the time our questions will have no real answers, however if we are honest and ask, it will help us deal with our emotions. God can handle the “Why?’ questions.
- Don’t Assume No One Cares – Isolation is a common place for those in grief to find themselves. Those around the grieving person soon go back to their lives, this leaves the one in pain feeling alone and that no one cares about their dilemma. The truth is that, though life for the person in pain has slowed to a crawl, to everyone else live continues on. Many of our friends and family really do want to help us through our grief, but they don’t know what to say or how to be a help. They worry if they bring up the subject of our pain we will feel bad. The reality is that many people care about our grief and want to help, it’s up to those grieving to allow them to help us.
- Don’t Always Wear the Mask – The easiest thing to do, as a grieving person, is to just put on the mask and act as if we are fine. Part of our defense mechanism is to protect the feelings of those around us. When people ask how we are doing the natural response is “Fine.” which most of the time is not true. Rather than telling the truth we tend to give the answer people want to hear. There are times, however when we need to tell people how we really are doing. Don’t just grieve in silence. Take off the “I’m fine” mask and be honest. This may require finding a close friend that will listen to us tell our story, or finding a support group that has people dealing with similar situations as you. We need times that we can be real as we grieve. Wearing the mask all the time may help others, but is hurtful to those in grief.
Grieving is not a pleasant process, but we must allow ourselves the time needed to finish the process. That doesn’t mean we forget the reason for our grief; it just means we are on the mend. Don’t prolong the process by doing the things that would hinder your healing.