Facing Your Grief

| By Jodi Horton

Written by Carol Miller, Bereavement Coordinator for Casa de la Luz Hospice

I recently read something from Dr. Brené Brown’s book “Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution.” about grief that really connected with me:

“…grief is perhaps the emotion we fear the most.  As individuals, we’re afraid of the darkness grief brings.  As a society, we have pathologized it and turned it into something to cure or get over.  Owning our stories of heartbreak is a tremendous challenge when we live in a culture that tells us to deny our grief.”  (pg. 145)

“We like recovery stories to move quickly through the dark so we can get to the sweeping redemptive ending.” (pg xxiv)

I think about the people I encounter as the Bereavement Coordinator and a Grief Counselor as they grieve the death of their loved ones. I also think about my own personal grief journeys (and, yes indeed, there has been more than one).  What I know is that grief is messy; it is all over the place, very uncontrollable, never tidy or reducible to a check-off list (and, believe me, I do love lists!).  And, darn it, if the grief journey isn’t going to be controllable or tidy, well, it only seems fair then that it would have a redemptive or inspirational ending, right?

Then I find myself chuckling.  Well … love, life, death, vulnerability … none of these experiences or feelings are tidy either, are they?  Loving someone, loving them deeply is frequently a messy business it seems, certainly never controllable, and most assuredly not reducible to a list!  So when that person dies, why then would I think that my sense of hurt, anxiety, sadness, pain, trauma and grief would be anything other than messy either?  Again, Brené has this to offer:

“We don’t like how difficult emotions feel and we’re worried about what people will think.  We don’t know what to do with the discomfort and vulnerability.  Emotion can feel terrible, even physically overwhelming.  We can feel exposed, at risk, and uncertain in the midst of emotion.  Our instinct is to run from pain …  [M]ost of us were never taught how to hold discomfort, sit with it, or communicate it, only how to discharge or dump it, or to pretend that it’s not happening.” (pg 50)

So I guess what I’m saying is that if you find yourself moving along this uncomfortable, uncontrollable, messy journey called grief, sometimes fighting it a bit, sometimes wishing for a way to “get over it” and “move on” as soon as possible, perhaps even figure it all out and get to your “redemptive ending” … well, I’d say you’re in good company and pretty normal.  We here in the Bereavement Department at Casa de la Luz Hospice understand it can be a huge challenge to allow yourself to lean into the grief experience and be with the feelings that arise in that moment. I encourage you to consider a bereavement support group or one-on-one counseling as options to support you through this journey.

To learn more about grief support options in Pima County from Casa de la Luz Hospice, call (520) 544-9890. 

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