The gift of grief

When we are faced with the loss of someone or something important to us, we have been given a gift: grief. Grief is the process that ultimately can allow us to find balance again.

Loss is hard. When we lose someone or something important to us, we may feel our lives have become out of balance. What is comfortable to us has changed. We experience sadness or anger, longing or anxiety, guilt or helplessness.

When we are faced with the loss of someone or something important to us, we have been given a gift: grief. Grief is the process that ultimately can allow us to find balance again. Grief is not evidence of sickness or disease or failure. It is not a sign of spiritual deficiency or weakness. Grief is the normal, human process of dealing with loss.

Grief allows us to acknowledge the loss is real and has happened to us. It permits us to go through the back-and-forth process of accepting the loss and then denying it when it overwhelms our capacity to cope. It enables us to access those bittersweet emotions that can make us believe we are “going crazy” or “losing our minds” when we are simply experiencing the depth of human emotion that the loss of someone or something important to us brings to our lives.

Grief also enables us to adjust to the loss of the relationship, while exploring the continuing bonds that still bind us. Joan Didion, author of “The Year of Magical Thinking,” writes: “I could not count the times during the average day when something would come up that I needed to tell him. This impulse did not end with his death. What ended was the possibility of response.”

As grief moves forward, we find a way to make the subject of our loss part of our life narrative. Grief also gives us the opportunity to answer the important question, “Who am I now?” and to grow in that understanding.

If loss is a wound, grief is the cure. It is a gift that allows us to find our balance in life.

Rev. Joel Sturtevant, D.Min., C.T., is the Rev. Dr. William J. Schultz Community Service Chaplain


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