Grief – the unavoidable process

My grandfather passed away last week. It was a good thing. He was 100! Quite a feat in itself. Even better, he was really healthy up until this last year. He was on a steady physical decline for a few months. His mind was as sharp as ever! It was peaceful for him. We said good bye and wished him well.

I, on the other hand, am not feeling so peaceful. I usually help people through this process. I am now on the other side of unavoidable anguish.

Grief is the emotional process one goes through when there are changes in life. We have to grieve what we lose when we change. This can be simple, like moving from Elementary to Junior High. You still have your friends (usually). It is just an adjustment to more classes, teachers, lack of recess. It doesn’t really seem like grief, but it is. You miss things you are not experiencing anymore. The new things can consume you and make the process easier.  It could also be a major adjustment, like a family member dying, a new baby, or getting married. We grieve the loss of singledom or coupledom when our family grows.

When we lose something precious and do not have a replacement (which can not happen with a loved one dying), the grieving feels painful. It becomes a process of reconciliation. How does this hole, that once was a person, fit in my life now? How do I reconcile the loss of a grandfather who has always been there. I can not remember a time when he wasn’t part of my life. I don’t grieve for him. I grieve for me. I have to allow the sadness and anger to run through me.

People have different ways of grieving. They rely on God, family, or friends. What really needs to happen is permission. Give yourself permission to have ALL those feelings. Whatever comes with grief, allow it. Feel sadness and cry. Feel angry and yell or punch a pillow. Let it come. The only way to “get past” grief is to travel through it. There is no way to avoid the process. You will just get stuck there.  Write your feelings down, create a memory book or page, have a wake for your loss. See grief as the process, adjustment and reconciliation of the changes rather than the loss.

Forgiving is not condoning

I talk about Forgiveness a lot, to anyone who needs it. There are many misunderstood ideas about forgiveness. Many religious organizations teach forgiveness as a godly act; to forgive others of wrong doing so that they may learn and grow in spirit. Though, many people do not truly forgive, but say they do in order to follow doctrine or “do what is right.”  True forgiveness is hard to do.

It is difficult to forgive others of wrong doing, especially if we, personally, have been injured in some way. We believe that if we forgive, we are condoning their behavior. If we let go of our own anger about the wrong doing, we are saying that it is some how okay. We like to hold onto our bitterness as proof that we have been wronged and help us avoid that wrong again. That is not true. Not forgiving others is just holding onto bad feelings that hurt us.

Forgiving others is NOT condoning their behavior.

It is letting go of our negative feelings toward others. Releasing the toxic anger and bitterness that eats at our happiness. Whether or not you choose to forgive another person does not change the other person. They will continue to choose their own behavior.

Forgiveness only changes you.

Anger, sorrow, regret, humiliation, shame, guilt are just a few negative side effects of holding a grudge. When we are done wrong, abused, hurt, used, or taken advantage of in some way, we react with self preservation. Those feelings are a means to protect ourselves from harm. We hold onto our trust, refusing to allow others in or push others away. Depending on the level of wrongdoing, we can react in many different ways.

These reactions can serve to protect us from the original person who does the wrong doing. However, they do not continue to serve us. By allowing yourself to not forgive, you may let those feeling fester and become toxic in your psyche. It damages all relationships forward.

TRY THIS

How do you let go? How do you forgive?

Think of it in terms of not allowing the wrong doer any more power over you. If you are angry at another person, you are allowing them the power to control your feelings. If you want to release them from your life, you have to forgive.

Forgiveness is letting go of the anger, resentment and bad feelings about the wrong doing; Being at peace with your self and your past.

Write a letter to the wrong doer(s). Tell them how you feel and how it still impacts you. Forgive them of the wrong doing and hurt. Tell them that what they did was not okay, nor should others be hurt by them. Tell them that you are letting go of the anger and not allowing them power in your life. Tell them what you have learned from the hurtful experience.

Then, burn it. Let it go to ash and wind. You may have to do this more than once.