Before we jump in, I have created something really helpful that will help you personally work through the things I’m going to talk about today. I call it a guide and I make one to go along with each episode. The goal is to give you something to help you explore, heal, and walk in new freedom. I know not everyone can work with me one-on-one, but this is something I believe is so powerful that you can get healing at home on your own time. The link to the get the free guide is in the show notes. Or you can go to triciazody.com/guide.
Okay, I’ve talked a lot about grief in many episodes I’ve recorded in the past. It’s a subject that I can’t get away from when telling my own story, obviously. But what I haven’t done is talk about it pointedly.
And the reason I feel like I need to dedicate an entire episode to grief is because it is something that we allexperience if we have lost anything in our lives that’s of real significance to us. And that’s not limited to the death of a person. Grief comes when we’ve experienced a loss of any kind.
That obviously may include a loved one or even a pet, but grief may also come at the death of a dream or vision you had for your life or career. It may come from the loss of a job or the loss of a marriage or other relationship. A loss of reputation. It may come from the onset of a physical disability. From infertility. From a significant financial set back. All kinds of things. You might be surprised at the smallest things that might bring you grief.
For example, my youngest and his little family plan on living in Japan for the rest of their lives. I’ve talked about this previously, but this is definitely not what I had envisioned as a grandmother. I grieve what I thought would be. I grieve a loss of relationship due to proximity – with my granddaughter and my son and daughter-in-love. So, yes, they’re still very much alive, but I still have lost something that I so desire and is very significant to me.
To someone else, this circumstance may not affect them the same way, and that’s only because they haven’t lost anything. They didn’t have an idea of or maybe even a desire for living close to their children and grandchildren in the first place. So, they didn’t lose that dream. I say this because I know it’s easy to judge other people surrounding their grief. You may not believe this, but some people actually have said to someone who is grieving the loss of a spouse that they should get over it and move on. Fortunately, this has not been my experience, but I know others who have had to deal with such heartbreaking and insensitive statements. We are quick to project our own beliefs, or expectations, or experiences onto others. We think, “That doesn’t bother me, so it shouldn’t bother you.” Or, “I dealt with that quickly, so you should, too.” Or, “My grieving looked like this; so since yours doesn’t, you’re not doing it right.” We lose all empathy, or even simple sympathy.
Instead, we should understand that people grieve for different reasons and for different seasons. Meaning, they will go through the grief process at their own pace and in their own way. Grief is not linear, and it has no timetable. You do not move through stages of grief to an end game. No. Grief includes a series of psychological and emotional experiences that have a lasting impact on your life, but that will also be with you for the rest of your life. This is why it’s important to understand that grief is not a gremlin; it’s a gift.
That statement, “grief is not a gremlin” comes from many conversations with people over the years who are trying to avoid grieving. But they are, so they feel like grief is a gremlin or a monster that is hunting them down that will kill them; or at the very least, send them into deep depression and ruin their life. They fear grief. So, they try their hardest to avoid it, ignore it, pretend it’s not there.
But what we need to understand is that grief is an emotional response to something we lost that we loved. Grief is evidence of love, and dreams, and desire. That is why grief is actually not a gremlin, but a beautiful gift. It’s evidence that there was love. And love is always a gift. This is why we can welcome grief. We can embrace it and not try to hide or run from it like it’s a gremlin going to kill us.
Because if you’ve lost, grief will always be a part of you, melding into who you are. However, it will change in intensity as you move along. At first it may feel like an electrifying jolt to the system, but eventually subsiding to a low-frequency hum.
And then there’s the ebb and flow. Things can shift so rapidly, and we need understand that it’s okay. To be okay to go from, “No, no, I’m fine” to “where on earth did that gut-wrenching and visceral cry come from?”From “I’m good. I feel strong and ready to move on,” to “I’m losing it in front of the Hallmark cards again five years later.” It’s okay. In fact, it’s normal. Nothing has gone wrong. You’re not losing ground or having to start over. Navigating grief is an on-going, ever-changing experience. Some things will be no big deal for you. And then others will be a harrowing experience. And then it might flip-flop on you, just when you think you’ve gotten a handle on things. If this is you, you are doing things exactly right. Because you’re doing them. Not because there’s some formula for grief and you’ve finally figured out how to do it. But that you’re allowing the process to happen.
Now, what you might be wondering is, “How do I move more quickly through this grief process to get to that “low-frequency hum” you were talking about?
The fastest way to move through grief is to let the tears and emotions happen. Having emotions, even intense emotions, don’t have to be a problem for you. Processing the emotion begins with believing that emotions can’t hurt you. They can’t hurt you. Whatever it is, it’s just a feeling. In episode number 111 – The Power Of ‘Pause’ I told you about research done by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor regarding emotions and their reaction in the body. She says, “When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90-second chemical process that happens in the body.” She suggests that emotions are reactions to external circumstances that are actually chemicals that get flushed through our bodies, but that they will pass in about 90 seconds. This is so enlightening because she says that when we attach a story to having the emotion, make the emotion mean something, we keep the emotion alive. Instead, allowing the emotion to be with us for those 90 seconds or less, means that the emotion will be very short-lived. It passes through the body. This is why we know any emotion can’t hurt us. It’s a very short-lived chemical reaction in our body. That’s it.
I’ve also heard people say they didn’t want to allow themselves to start crying because they were afraid they might not ever stop. Never in the history of mankind have we heard that someone started crying and never stopped.
But people may not want to cry or express emotions for another reason. Perhaps they heard messages all their growing up year: “Suck it up. Boys don’t cry.” “If you’re going to cry, go to your room.” “Don’t be a cry-baby.” Or maybe they heard one of their parents say, “If you don’t stop crying, I’m going to give you something to really cry about.” Ouch. Regardless of the specific message, we understood it to mean that crying is bad, a sign of weakness, or a sign of emotional instability. But did you know that there’s a really good reason for crying. Crying was a gift given by God. It has a specific purpose. The chemistry or makeup of tears caused by extreme emotion, sometimes referred to as psychic tears, is different than just regular tears that protect and/or moisten your eyes. The emotional tears contain protein-based hormones your body produces under stress. Some researchers believe that crying is your body’s way of flushing out these stress-related hormones, and also may trigger the release of endorphins that make you feel good and reduce pain. This may be why after a good, hard cry you may say, “Wow, I needed a good cry. I feel so much better.”
As a side note, I think this is fascinating. Photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher created a project called “The Topography of Tears” where she used a microscope to photograph human tears. She found a remarkable difference in the shape and structure of different kinds of human tears from grief, to joy, to laughter, and even tears from cutting an onion. I’ll link her website in the show notes if you want to take a look. And I just have to say here, there is nothing accidental, random, or unintentional about the human body. Our Creator God is amazingly detailed!
Okay, so let’s get back to the processing of the emotion itself. Sometimes, because we’re so good at judging ourselves, and that voice of the inner critic is so loud, and obnoxious, and rude sometimes, we think we need to get to the root of why we’re grieving and solve it. This is not true at all. There’s nothing to solve. It’s grief.
Okay, there, we solved it. And the root is love. If that’s what your brain needed, it’s solved. But this is where I want to also tell you that you don’t need to give yourself grace in this moment. I know, I do believe that there are many times and scenarios that we need to learn to give ourselves grace. But experiencing grief is not one of them. Instead, you need to give yourself permission. Give yourself permission to ebb or flow, to be up or down, okay or definitely not, whichever it is today; to go into that closet, shut the door, and cry; to feel the electrifying jolt or the low-frequency hum. You don’t need to give yourself grace here; you need permission. And it’s yours to give to yourself.
Friend, when you embrace grief as an expression of love, you’re able to rewire that grief brain. You’ve deframed the old story. Gotten rid of it. And once you’ve done that, you’re able to move forward in your life seeing the opportunities and possibilities for your future. You’ll find that your best days are in front of you with the understanding that grief is coming with you. But it’s not a gremlin hunting to take you down, but instead a beautiful gift.
Hey, go grab the guide that’ll help you work through your grief process. And if you know someone who may be grieving also, will you please send them this podcast episode? I’m sure they’ll thank you for it.
One last thing. I want to suggest a few other episodes you might be interested in surrounding this topic:
Episode 29 – I still have questions
Episode 51 - The Goodness Of A Sovereign God In The Midst of Affliction
Episode 59 - Thankfulness In The Midst Of Suffering
Episode 106 - How To…Frame, Reframe, and Deframe Your Stories
Thank you for listening in, friend. Have a wonderful week. See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life.