by Catherine Baker
We all long for connection with others. The need for relationship is not a weakness, it is God’s intentional design. Our very creation is the overflow of his relational love, evidenced by the relationship between Father, Son and Spirit. But enjoying the highs of human love and connection means we will also experience the lows of grief when that connection is lost. Grief is the inner thoughts and feelings we experience when we lose a loved one. Mourning is the external expression of what we internally experience. According to Dr. Alan Wolfelt, while grief is a natural human response to loss, the act of mourning is a process we must choose to engage in order to heal. Dr. Wolfelt describes the following 6 needs of mourning:
The pain of loss is normal, natural and necessary. Sadness instinctively forces us to slow down and be still. Society may tell us to keep busy or to move on quickly, but when we are willing to sit with our pain, we give ourselves the opportunity to reflect on what really matters and to find new meaning in life.
When we are willing to sit with our pain, we give ourselves the opportunity to reflect on what really matters and to find new meaning in life.
Dr. Wolfelt encourages us to honor and befriend our pain. What does that mean? It means to move toward the pain, not away from it. “To ignore your true feelings is to become dead while you are alive.” As we process our pain, and share it with others, we take control of how the loss impacts our lives. We can make a choice to incorporate loss into our lives in a way that has meaning and value. The gift of pain is healing and freedom. Whether your loss was recent or distant, I hope you will be encouraged to honor and befriend your pain – it’s never too late!
These concepts of grief and loss were gathered from Dr. Alan Wolfelt’s book, The Depression of Grief.