On the first anniversary of the Bali bombing, I was heading back to Bali to do some grief counselling prior to participating in the Bali Memorial Service. But as I pondered that, I was challenged to consider “what is grief?” My trusty dictionary describes it as “keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret”. One author called it “craziness for sane people” and it is a process which follows any significant loss, whether it is in the death of a person or other losses, such as loss of a partner through divorce.
Grief is real and it is accompanied by very intense emotions which sometimes surprise us because they are not logical, and shock us because they are not normal for us. There is shock, bouts of uncontrolled weeping, depression, fear, guilt, anger and sometimes apathy and emotional numbness. All these are normal and NEED to be expressed, for “emotions expressed become medicines that heal, emotions repressed become poisons that kill.” When we go through these experiences we need to give each other the freedom to cry, to be illogical and let it happen rather than trying to cover up what is really going on.
My job is not to shelter people from the pain of their loss or to help them to escape, but to simply be there, to listen, and somehow to help them draw upon the divine resources that God provided, so that they can creatively grow through the experience of grief. I cannot turn a bad event into a good one, but I can share the pain and walk with you through it. Time by itself does not heal a broken heart, it all depends what you do with it!
May you know the comfort of God and the peace of God this today, no matter what your grief.
Chaplain Ian Whitley