Finding the Courage to Face Your Grief

| By Meredith Ford

Many years ago a friend said to me, “True courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to proceed in spite of it.”  I don’t know the origin of that statement, but it felt very right and true at the time.  Dr. Brené Brown, in her book I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t) has this to say about courage:

“Courage is a heart word.  The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart.  In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’  …[T]oday, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds.  But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences – good and bad.”

Personally, I think—no, I know—it takes a great deal of courage to grieve the death of a loved one.  When a loved one dies, our hearts are broken open, torn apart.  We find ourselves dumped into a space of deep darkness, hurt, and pain.  We also feel incredibly vulnerable, exposed.

We live in a culture and time that still does not invite us to spend time with our grief.  Instead the societal expectation insists that we “move on” or “get over” our grief and “find closure.”  Feeling unsafe with our grief, we end up feeling isolated, stuck in a little “grief box.”  Our movements, thoughts, and feelings feel limited and constrained, restricted by a set of vague, conflicting societal rules, messages, and expectations.  Our Western society also relays the message that vulnerability (our intense sadness, tears, hopelessness) equals weakness, something not seen as a desirable trait by this culture.  Seriously then, who wants to go be with grief?!

Yet, because of the deep love we hold for our loved ones, how can we not go there?  It takes incredible courage to step into our hearts, to be willing to tell our stories and share our vulnerable, open thoughts, feelings and experiences, and to continue to do this as we find ways to transform and make meaning of our grief.  In doing so, we actually honor ourselves and our loved ones in this process and that, too, is courageous.

One place you can be courageous and still be assured of a sense of safety is to attend a grief group or workshop or meet with a bereavement counselor for a one-on-one grief counseling session.  At Casa de la Luz, we offer all of these options throughout the year.  I invite you to consider taking advantage of these services, all of which are offered at no cost both to the families and friends of the patients we serve as well as to the Tucson community at large.

To learn more about the grief support offerings from Casa de la Luz, visit our Grief Support webpage or call (520) 544-9890 and ask to speak with our bereavement department.

Written by Carol Miller, Casa de la Luz Bereavement Coordinator

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