Saturday, July 31, 2010

Grieving -- The Spiral

One more in a series of old blog posts recently I recovered. Several friends who have been in significant grief commented on how some of my past postings were helpful to them. I hope this is one of them:

The grieving process is not a line, neither is it a circle. Instead, we might best describe it as a spiral. From one viewpoint, a spiral looks like a circle, but from another you can see that progress is being made in one direction or another. That spiral can be headed "up" or "down." In either case, a person traveling along that spiral may visit one "stage" of grief more than once, but, if progress is being made, one will have learned from that stage before, and, if healing is taking place, one will not stay in that stage as "long" as before. Each time we meet those feelings, we are a little better able to handle them, a little better able to go on with our lives.

I should note at this point that not everyone experiences all of the "phases" of grief. Not everyone, for example, struggles with anger. These categories are based upon the general experience of those who have lost a loved one. Every situation, as we have said, is unique, and therefore "exceptions to the rule" are to be expected.

The "spiral of grief" can either lead us upward and, eventually, out of the process, or, if we refuse to face our grief, and engage in self-destructive behavior that denies the reality of what has taken place in our lives, it can lead ever downward into despair, loneliness, and bitterness. I have, sadly, met more than one person who was still in the process many, many years after a loss. They were bitter, unhappy, and unable to function in a normal way, all due to their unwillingness to face the necessity of working through grief. We will talk more about the danger of this kind of situation later on. For now, we might see the two spirals of grief like this:

The Upward Spiral:


On the other hand, note the small, but important differences in the opposite:

The Downward Spiral:


Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted -- Jesus

I'm so glad God is close to the brokenhearted aren't you?

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