Saturday, May 23, 2009

Grief is Necessary

It’s not just okay to mourn, it is essential to grieve losses in order to heal from abuse. Loss is huge when another has violated you with their actions and words.

Not that we are likely to grieve abuse right away. Many of us are so traumatized by abuse that it takes years to acknowledge what happened and then it may take even more years before we are willing to examine how the attacks against our dignity affected us. It is amazing how long we can put off healthy grieving—but we cannot put it off forever.

It reminds me of the holes I used to dig just outside of the water’s edge as the ocean’s tide was coming in. I’d dig a hole quickly and deeply and then wait for the waves to reach my hole. A little would go in with one wave and then a little more a few waves later. Each wave would lap into or over my hole and then recede away, but each time a little water was collected into the hole. Eventually there was so much water in the hole that it would spill over. A short while later, the waves were hitting with more force as they advanced up the sand and my hole would grow less and less distinct as it was filled and dragged with pounding surf.

We can be like the holes I dug, receptacles for the waves that are our pain and defilement. It can fill a bit at a time, until the day when the pain is just too big and it begins to spill out, whether we want it to or not. If we keep stuffing the pain back in, we become less and less distinct, losing all sense of ourselves as individuals. The pain engulfs us and we get pounded and dragged, pounded and dragged.

Grief can be delayed and buried, but it will rise to the surface eventually, demanding attention. The good news is that when the pain is faced and dealt with, it becomes smaller and smaller and we become more and more free to move forward with our lives.


Anonymous said...

Grief when faced can be very liberating. A few years ago I had a conversation with my brother over what had happened in our home when we were kids. And I will never forget what he said to me. He said. "how can you not still be angry about it." For him, he could not understand how I could go on with no anger or resentment over what happened. He is still a very angry man over all of this. I was able to go through the grieving. I think most people think of grieving as something you only do when someone dies, but it doesn't feel much different to me when you are grieving over the loss of a childhood, an absent parent, or the breakup of a marriage. I am glad I grieved for them all. I am glad my life is not ruled by bitterness and anger. That is a prison that I do not wish to be in. And for me, forgiveness came after the grief had been acknowledge.

Tanya T. Warrington said...

Hi Jamey,

I agree that dealing with the full spectrum of emotions with grief does allow us to release things such as anger. We don't have to hold onto an emotion to validate it--if we have validated it through the grief process.

Good job grieving over your losses!

Jan Parrish said...

I recently watched the TD Jakes movie, "Not Easily Broken." The MIL is a great example of what bitterness can do to a person. Holding onto anger and bitterness spills over into all area's until you can't even think straight.

For many years I hated all men, with a handful of exceptions. I was stuffing and blaming all males for my abuse.

Slowly but surely, God pulled me back, but not before the anger and bitterness spilled out onto all area's of my life. What a heavy burden to bear.

Now I am free and so much lighter! Praise God for taking my anger and burdens. I no longer need to hang onto them and carry them.

Don't stuff! It will eventually come out - and most likely be at the worst possible moment.

Tanya T. Warrington said...

I love your additions to this topic, Jan. Buried anger and resentments are such a heavy burden! I will look into the movie that you mentioned. Movies and novels can so powerfully teach us about truths.

I too was weighed down by resentment, toward others and toward myself. I had a very blaming and critical spirit toward myself for things that were actually out of my control. It was easier to harass and belittle myself than to honestly look at how others had sinned against me. And when looking with sideways glances at the abuse incidents, it was easier to resent vaguely than to concretely name what happened and walk through a forgiveness and healing process.

Praise God! He changed all that. I cried out for His help and He freed me one step at a time. He helped me to face reality and to forgive in Him. He freed me from suffocating burdens!

I praise God, too, for your story of rescue and grace, Jan! Our Lord sets prisoners free--we know it first hand. It makes me want to sing and dance with joy!

Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft