Journeying Through Grief
What is Grief?
Grief is a natural emotional and spiritual reaction to loss. There is no one agreed upon universal description of grief. Just ask someone to explain grief to you, review articles or scientific studies, or peruse the many social media memes about grief. The variability is remarkable. Grief is unique to each of us and does not follow a linear path, pattern or a set time period. Consequently, we may share similar types of losses, but no one can know exactly how you feel about your particular loss. Each time we grieve, it may be different from past grieving experiences, with no two being the same.
What Kinds of Losses Lead to Grief?
Each time there is a change in our lives, it often entails a loss of some kind. Death and divorce are obvious painful change with significant loss. But grief can also occur as a result of many other kinds of changes, such as retirement, moving, job loss, pet loss, financial and health issues, and loss of trust. We can grieve over losing a favorite item or not being able to do something or go someplace we were looking forward to doing. Or, we may find ourselves grieving as a result of a positive change such has a new job. We may be leaving the comfortable and good friends and venturing into a new situation with people we do not know. It can be both exciting, unsettling and sad. Again, how we respond to change and loss varies from situation to situation and from person to person.
Is It Possible to Recover from Grief?
Some argue that grief never ends and that it is always with us in some way, like chains that bind our hearts in a forever sadness. Others believe just as strongly that we can recover from grief; that it is a matter of coming to terms with unrealized hopes, dreams, expectations and things that were left unsaid or undone. Still others believe that while grief may not go away totally, it can be integrated into our lives. It follows that since each experience of grief is unique, how we recover, move forward or integrate the loss is also unique.
How Can We Move Forward After Loss?
Grieving is a journey of self-discovery. It is an invitation to accept the loss(es); to take stock of your life; to acknowledge, honor and process your feelings about loss(es) and change(s); and to be open to new possibilities. This journey is not easy, but it is worth the time and effort. It can lead you out of sadness and despair. It can be transformational. This is not to say that life will be the same again or that you will forget who or what you have lost. It will be different, and you will have memories both joyful and painful. But, as you move forward and create a new life, you may find new meaning and purpose. You also may find life fulfilling and you may find happiness again. It is okay to be happy!
Risks for Getting Stuck in Grief
Isolation is a serious risk when we are grieving. Our culture encourages us to stuff away our feelings; put on a happy face; stay busy, give it time as time heals all things; be strong for others;, and replace that which you have lost – none of which are very helpful strategies. We are taught to deal with loss intellectually, as if we can think our way out. Again, not very helpful. It’s okay to be sad, mad, glad, scared and everything in between. Your heart is broken, and it takes what it takes to heal. There are no set rules.
You Are Not Alone!
Reach out to someone you trust or reach out to me, BJ Spanos. As a trained spiritual director and grief recovery specialist, I can help you navigate your journey through grief. I recommend and rely strongly on Jerry Sittser’s book, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss. He offers a sound approach and perspective about grieving. While his personal story is compelling, he does not dwell on it, but rather shares what he has learned and how he created a new life by being open to personal growth and transformation. There is something of value in this book for everyone and for every type of loss.
Small Groups or Private Sessions
Both meeting in a small group or private sessions are available. Long distance sessions are also available via Zoom or Skype. Some really like a small group format with group members supporting each other, while others prefer one-on-one sessions. There is no right or wrong; whatever works best for you.
Please contact BJ Spanos at 404.771.9335 for a consultation. As this ministry is a volunteer activity, all sessions are free of charge. Voluntary honorariums are appreciated.