If the following sentences stir something in you… a strand of Grief may be a guest in your life. Your body may be sending you messages through the form of anxiety, or depression, so you’ll finally hear the cry of grief.
Whose responsibility was it?
If you had been the one, what would you say to the survivor?
What would you like to say to him or her? What would he or she say to you?
You did the best you could under the circumstances.
In our first world productivity-oriented culture, grief is an unwanted guest. Grief is rejected, then limited to a 3-day stay. Grief is only fully accepted when it is due to the passing of a loved one. It’s common for folks to say they feel powerless, and ashamed or guilty for not having more control over their emotions.
I see grief enter my office frequently. It shows up in the sense of loss from betrayal, from the death of a dream, from adjusting to a new place, from an acute sense that one is completely alone while surrounded by a sea of faces. Grief shows up in an adult who increasingly bends into a fetal position as they draw recollections of unresolved moments–wrinkles in time. Grief shows up in a child who tries to use their version of adult words, to negotiate their validity despite feeling vulnerable and worthless. Unintelligible grief peeks through their eyes as they tell the intelligible parts of their story.
Unobserved and unattended grief can become bitter, strong, and difficult to satisfy. In its silence, it sends a emergency sparkler into the dark sky. A cloud of depression can come down, while anxiety rises from the ground into the feet of the one who ignores their guest, Grief. Depression and Anxiety come to accompany Grief—Grief doesn’t feel alone anymore. Hardened Anger can surface to protect Grief as well.
I think grief and forgiveness are deeply intertwined. Grief unobserved can turn to despair and loss of life. Forgiveness that ignores Grief is empty, uncertain, and questionable.
I suspect kinder orientations to grief will bear fruits of forgiveness. One fruit Of forgiveness may be vitality.
Licensed Professional Counselor, EMDR Therapist