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Grieving with Hope

In my counseling work I see many clients struggling with grief. They struggle often because of the unhelpful ideas they have or others have given them about grief; our society impacts these unhelpful ideas as well. We hear ideas like "Grieving should be over after the one year anniversary of the lost loved one.", "Once you have dealt with your grief, it shouldn't come up again.", "After a year, you shouldn't get upset about losing your loved one anymore.". There are many other myths about grieving that are unhelpful to those who are bereaved. However, the truth is that grief is a normal reaction to loss and death, each person's experience of grief is unique, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Every loss is different and the grieving process is influenced by a multitude of issues. Grief never ends; we will always miss our loved one who has died and the pain of grief will always be around in some manner at times. Death may end a life, but it doesn't end a relationship. We can learn how to maintain a relationship with the loved one we have lost; though their physical body is no longer present with us, the love and connection that we share remains. For those who claim Christ and believe in His salvation for eternal life, we have a strong hope to cling to in our grief (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We do not have to grieve without hope, for we know what waits past death: eternity! Yes we will grieve and be saddened by our loss; this was someone we loved deeply and miss dearly. But we can grieve in light of the hope that we have and that puts our pain in a different perspective. There are days where the hope is hard to cling to and that is normal. However, if we will remind ourselves of Truth, we can experience joy even in our pain. If grieving with hope is difficult to do and the hope seems difficult to attain, consider Christian Counseling for the grief you are experiencing. It can be a powerful healing experience for you in your loss and pain.

Grief stops for no man

Our society tells us that grief is something we should "get over" or that after a while we should "move on". But this makes no sense to someone who is deeply grieving. And actually, it's just not true. We do not ever "get over" someone we love and shared a relationship with- be it family, a significant other, a child or a friend. We never "move on" from these losses. Yes, we can move forward; we can get back to doing regular life things. But we do not let those relationships go completely, at least I hope you are not because you do not have to. It is appropriate to "move on" from the intense grieving period where crying is a regular occurrence, going to work isn't happening and eating and sleeping are difficult. It's important that you can get to a place where you can complete daily activities such as sleeping, eating, self care and working or going to school. But emotionally grief will resurface often. And it has no timeline, unlike what society tells us. Most people would say that after a year, you should be "over it". But if you have lost a child, a brother, a spouse- is that realistic? I think not! Grief research would agree with me. It is important for grievers to reengage in society - socialize, work, take care of yourself, invest in others. But there is no timeline for grief. It is completely normal if after a year, or after 3 years, or more something reminds you of the one who died and you have a moment to cry and grieve for them. There will be days that you miss them so much you actually ache and that doesn't just happen within the first year. One of the biggest things I work with clients who are engaging in grief counseling is to remove the expectations and time lines they place on themselves that they should be "over it" or "better" than they are. That does nothing to heal the hurts or soothe the loss. It can actually counteract the healing process. Time lines and expectations based on false information or based on our society's view of grief are lies and allowing them to dictate your grief is unhealthy. Take your time to grieve; after all the relationship you had with the one you lost is unique. Grief counseling can help you sort through the pain, wounds and loss you have experienced. But there's no time lines there either! 

Grief- It always comes back around...

Grief is a lifelong process. We often think of grief as being something we "get over", "move on from" or "deal with". But grief is more accurately a process that is lifelong. Now it doesn't always look the same or feel the same, but grief always comes back around. We've all likely heard of the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. No one has to go through all 5 stages and they are not walked through chronologically or in some linear fashion. Grief is messy and it looks different for everyone because we are all unique and all experience loss in a unique way. Certain holidays, anniversary dates or circumstances may trigger memories and the grief reappears. Items, songs, people can trigger one's grief to resurface. When I'm counseling with an individual or a couple, we always discuss life losses. The losses in our lives affect us, affect our relationships, and it's important to honor them. It's important to remind ourselves that grief is not a one time thing, not something we experience for one year following a loss and then never again. Grief always comes back around and that is normal. The healthy thing to do is to feel it and process it, honor the loss in some way, honor the relationship we had and have with the one we lost. Counseling can be a powerful tool in the healing process of grief. We never fully "get over" our losses but we can heal and learn to incorporate the losses into our lives in healthy ways. If you're feeling particularly stuck with a loss, life change or transition, I encourage you to seek counseling; learning to grieve and allowing yourself permission to do it can be a powerful tool for healing!