Sometimes it’s hard to not feel weird when you are grieving something that other’s view as insubstantial. The truth is you can always find someone else with a loss greater than your own.
Viewing loss this way in our own lives can minimize it to unhealthy degrees.
There is a time for joy. There is a time to mourn. But yet, we don’t often let ourselves truly mourn what we have lost.
For the fist couple decades of my adult life, I didn’t understand the need to allow myself to grieve. To grieve the loss of a friendship, the loss of a pet, the loss of betrayal from a family member, the loss of a dream of having children…the list goes on, so many losses.
Yet, I thought that they didn’t deserve my grief. Or maybe my pride even told me that I needed to be stronger than my losses.
This led to emotions turned inward that were never dealt with, which in turn led to anxiety and ultimately depression. The hurt was so deep that I didn’t even know where to start with untangling my grief.
I wish I would have saught counseling at the time because maybe that person would have told me that what I was trying to push aside were my feelings of grief. That grief comes from all kinds of situations and not admitting it to not feel weird, doesn’t make it go away. Pushing grief aside just creates bigger issues in our lives piling grief upon grief until our grief accumulates to an emotionally paralyzing degree.
I remember a series of things that God used in my life to help me untangle all that grief. These things were over a period of many years. A long process, seemingly unconnected…a retreat, a Bible Study with a group of women, a book by a professional counselor and then a talk I heard. The talk was the more recent thing that put words to what I had learned later in this journey of loss.
How other’s perceive your grief doesn’t change the fact that your pain is your pain, and you need to be honest about what you are experiencing. All losses that create negative emotions need to be grieved to some extent. Some will need to be grieved more than others.
When my dad was officially diagnosed with dementia, I knew that I wanted to allow myself to grieve and to do it in a healthy way. I saught help through regular sessions with a counselor. I wish I would have saught professional help decades ago. I would have had a greater understanding of loss and grief and how to process it.
The grief for my dad isn’t done, I’ve learned with dementia that the entire grieving process happens during the disease – this is officially called anticipatory grief and ambiguous grief. And guess what? Grieving during the disease doesn’t change the extent of the grief that will happen again after the disease takes his body and his soul goes to heaven. Double jeopardy – or double grief.
I knew that putting our dog to sleep a couple weeks ago would be hard, there would be grieving. But I was honestly shocked at the depth of the grief. The pain I physically felt, still feel. I felt weird again about grieving so deeply.
There are those that understand grief from losing a pet. There are those that understand my grief because they can relate it to another loss. There are those that maybe still don’t understand grief like me many years ago in my early 20’s.
No matter what, it doesn’t change my humanness, the depth of my grief, the need to move through my grief.
I am so thankful for what I’ve learned from counseling. I see how it applies to so many losses in life, big and small. So I am using what I have learned to allow myself to grieve the loss of our dog, Pete. To be okay with the thought of being weird.
I don’t have any inspirational way to close this post. I really don’t. I just want you to know that you don’t need anyone’s permission to grieve a loss, any kind of loss.
Does this mean life stops? No..Does this mean that you can’t choose joy during a time of grieving? No.
I still go back to a phrase that I will remind myself of through all circumstances, all grieving and maybe it will be a mantra for you as well. I can choose joy!
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.