When death occurs there are many words that describe the experience: sadness, shock, emotional, depression, anger, panic, anxiety, as well as confusion. Seldom do you hear words of celebration, expectancy, relief, and hope. Yet as one walks through the days, weeks, months and even years of grief there is a word not often used but very appropriate and that is GOOD. God is Good and the scripture promises that God is close to the broken hearted. If God is with us, then we can experience GOOD GRIEF.
The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)
The phrase good grief is not an error. Having worked with hundreds of individuals and families walking through the journey of grief, there is such a thing as experiencing good grief. This phrase is not to be confused with words like happy or glad that death has occurred. Yet to understand there is a healthy way to grieve.
Grief is hard, complicated, and painful. Grief is a struggle in all areas; mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and physically. How can grief be hard, complicated, painful and good? Allow me to offer a few thoughts regarding how to experience grief as good or what some may express as healthy, it begins with understanding that we are born to die. We are not born to live on this earth forever. Each person born is assigned a number of days. For some that may be days in the womb, or given over a hundred years on earth. Unknown to us the time ordained for each person is set in motion by God. We live each day with the thought we will be here tomorrow. For some, as we know so well, their tomorrow never comes.
Psalms 139:13-16 reads,
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
and your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
The journey through life and grief is filled with highs and lows. Life after loss is a cycle of highs and lows, generally described as good days and bad days. When one is willing to acknowledge the loss, it will trigger an experience of pain. For most the brain’s natural instinct is if it is painful don’t do it. Yet, the healthiest thing one can do amid grief is to acknowledge and allow the pain. Much like birthing pains a mother is willing to experience physical, mental and emotional pain for the end result of celebrating life.
To speak of the person that died may be difficult for you and for others, but speak their name. Tell and re-tell their story. Facing the physical, mental, and emotional pain will result in being able to remember with less pain and celebrating a life lived. Grieving is hard work, but intentional grieving is healthy. Setting aside time to talk, to learn, and to process is important. This intentional effort is an example of GOOD GRIEF.
The journey of grief is filled with many people who try and tell others how to grieve. Most mean well even when one may say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Healthy grief, good grief, is when one has a safe person or place to acknowledge the loss, and having a place to go, a place to process, a safe place to experience the pain.
Joining a grief group can assist with learning topics such as re-adjusting, reinvesting, and reconciling the loss. The ALIVE community has people and groups willing and able to assist men and women, young and old, in navigating through expected and unexpected loss. Let us help you. Grief has no speed limit and no expiration date. Consider joining one of our weekly small groups and together we will strive to experience GOOD GRIEF.