a little r & r
One of my favorite captions from Charles Schultz’s Peanuts comic strip is Charlie Brown’s shout of exasperation, “O good grief!”
Now, there’s an oxymoron: “good grief”! Can “grief” be “good?” Is there such a thing? Surely, no one looks at grief as good. Grief is to be avoided at all costs. It only conjures uncomfortable feelings of sadness, despair, and disappointment for starters.
Joy? Peace? You bet. We’d all stand in line for those. But grief? Hardly!
Besides we immediately think of the death of a good friend or loved one when we think of those occasions when “grief” is used and who wants to think about that?
Yet, as poet Emily Dickinson wrote, “grief: there is the various kind.” Some kinds of grief are underestimated or barely recognized, like the loss of a beloved friend and talented leader.
Grief is sometimes referred to as “a global emotion.” It is a composite of many different kinds of feelings often colliding inside us all at one time. Grief includes sadness, of course; but it also can include guilt: Should I have done more to keep my friend from leaving? Grief often includes fear and anxiety, especially if our loss is of someone who was a major person in our lives. Grief can include joy over memories collected over the years of working or serving together. It can include gratitude for having known a very outstanding person. But grief can also include anger: They shouldn’t have left me (us) hanging? Or helplessness? Now what do we do? Even opponents of a leader can experience a mixture of thoughts: Happiness that a leader is gone, but also disappointment that we no longer have that opponent to skirmish with.
Grief is just plain messy. It often throws us into chaos, which only time can heal. Grief includes a whole raft of responses, issues, and drama.
But the worst thing a person can do is to deny their grief. Grief helps us put the past behind us and move toward a new future. Show me a person who refuses to do the hard work of grieving and I’ll show you a person who fails to experience much joy in their lives. It’s a great irony that by diminishing our sadness we often lower our chances for joy. When a person keeps saying, “I don’t want to talk about it” they only make things worse. This is why the psalms of lament in the Book of Psalms are so wise. The Hebrews knew the pathway to joy always includes a stop in the valley of grief.
René and I want you to know we are here for anyone who would simply like to talk any loss or grief you’ve experienced in your life, including that of your former pastor. You can contact us by phone (Rick: 402-301-3279 or email@example.com or René: 402-301-3280 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here if you just want to talk and tell us what’s on your heart and mind in order to heal the past, tolerate the present or hope for the future. We promise to keep our conversations confidential.
It’s the only way to make our grief, “good grief” and get on with the next stage in our own life and in our life together.