Catholic Church

Grief Brief   #9

One of the difficult aspects of grieving is dealing with the strong feelings that emerge during the grief process.  Among those known to most grievers are: sadness, loneliness, missing the person lost, anger that they are no longer a part of one’s life, and guilt over what one believes should or could have been done for the loved one.  Hindsight becomes quite keen while one is grieving.  Self-blame, regret, and guilt easily follow.

Anger may extend beyond self or the loved one to anger at God, who after all, could have spared the person for several more years, giving him or her wellness. Anger at medical personnel in our health care system can also arise when we believe that they could have tried harder to save the person or to have given better care.   Anger may also be extended to the person who died, especially if one feels that self-neglect was a causative factor in an earlier than desired death.

As feelings emerge they have a power of their own which will certainly increase if the feelings are repressed or denied.  Looking at feelings and trying to understand what they are conveying to us is quite important. Taking the time to see the reality of what one feels, talking about those feelings with a trusted other, or writing them out gives an escape of them from our inner world.  Of course this process cannot be done just once.  The feelings will emerge several times over until they dissipate and one can let them go.

Whenever strong feelings emerge during grief they require a process of forgiveness for needed healing to follow.  Forgiveness is extended to anyone considered to be complicit in any aspects of the loss.  When forgiveness of whomever, including self, is hard in coming there is a need to pray for the ability and strength to forgive.  Then, peace can follow.

Remember that holding on to unforgiveness or any of the strong feelings that emerge during grief will also lead to an undue toxic burden of spiritual and emotional unrest and unhappiness to be carried throughout one’s life. Therefore, a word of wisdom is to visit and process the feelings. 

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