“Grief is not linear: grief is recurrent!” (Divinely Dressed: Putting on the Garments of Grace, Penny Kendall). I expected to move forward through the stages of grief in an orderly and step-by-step manner where I could measure where I was and how far I still had to go to be done grieving. I put unrealistic expectations and pressure on myself. I discovered, like many other hurting people, that grief does not follow a linear path and there is no one right way to grieve. Grief can spiral in and out of control. In Penny’s words “…it is more a spiral with many grief responses, not stages… at the onset of our grief we are at the middle of the spiral and we visit all the responses at once: shock, denial, fear, anger, guilt, regret, and so many more emotions. As we continue our grief journey, we visit these responses less often and less intensely, but we still visit them- over and over again” (p.40). Sometimes we are taken off guard by our responses and sometimes we are triggered by other losses that come along in life that can send us back into the spirals of our grief.
Over time our spiraling grief emotions should change and become less intense and less often. “The grieving process, no matter the cause, is a battle for life- a struggle for survival” (Kendall, p. 42). With encouragement and compassion, processing this battle will leave you changed forever. This is the work that grief does.
Seeking support and companioning from a grief counselor can happen at any point in our grief journey. Grieving is a very lonely process that can isolate us in our pain, anger, and denial. If you are stuck in these intense emotions for a long time, you can lose your way back to wholeness. A grief counselor can help you navigate your way through these intense emotions.
We cannot control or avoid the pain and suffering caused by loss. They are a part of being alive, BUT we can choose how we go through our pain and suffering and allow the grieving process to change us. Talking to a grief counselor maybe necessary when the pain is intense we choose to avoid or deny feeling our grief. It feels like we are going to drown or not survive so we shut off feeling anything. This can lead to depression or anxiety that can show up later in our lives.
Seeking a grief counselor can help us find a new direction in our lives. It is important not to make decisions from the pain and loss we feel. Instead, decisions should be made from a renewed sense of purpose and wholeness that gives meaning to the loss we have endured.
We all yearn to feel complete and whole. In grief counseling we are intentional about walking through our suffering while we develop a deeper capacity for compassion and empathy for others. Eventually, you will be able to come alongside someone’s grief journey and walk with them through their battles for life. This is where we find our peace and connection in healing our own broken hearts. Think back to who was with you when you needed someone to help you in your loss and pain. What had that person endured that they could sit with you in your grief spiral? Allow this experience to help you grow so you can be there for someone you love when they go through their life battle.
Written by Kimberly Talmey