Tag Archives: grieving with boundaries

When grief begets grief

photo of griefGrief needs time, but if you were to give it, say, the whole house to reside in, instead of just a room or two, then your grief becomes more than a necessary part of the healing process. It becomes, instead, a source of more problems. I will try to explain.

Sticking with the house analogy, if every room in the house becomes a complete mess (use your imagination here), then the house’s disorder becomes a new thing to grieve. Eventually, your grief may have little to do with its original source. Basically, you start grieving new misfortunes and painful experiences that are the fallout from your initial grief.

The poignant scene in the Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln shows two extremes in regards to handling grief. The president tells his wife that he cannot allow himself to indulge in the pain of their son’s death. He resists the pain so he can uphold his commitment to the country, something greater than himself. His wife, on the other hand, shows the devastating impact of grief and possibly wallows in it. Who can say how much control either of them had in their situation? No one really knows, but we can still listen, learn and consider what applies to our own lives.

I believe God has given each of us the strength of a will; that is, the ability to make a decision regardless of our emotional state. But there is a range here: people have feelings in different intensities and some have a stronger will than others.

I am grateful President Lincoln was able to use his strong will to section off his grief so he could help bring an end to the pain of many others. I am also grateful for his wife’s demonstration of how tormenting grief can be. She too, come to think of it, had a strong will, one which was influenced by her intense grief. In fact, her grief, in part, became her resolve that the amendment be passed so she wouldn’t lose a second son. This resolve, no doubt, helped her carry on.

Sooner or later, this is what we do: carry on. When grief is allowed to grow to the point of filling every nook and cranny of a house, it is hard to even move, and the carrying on is similar to trekking through waist-high mud, or worse. But even then, when grief begets more grief, healing can still happen. The house can be brought back into shape. Things can be picked up. Especially if friends and a cleaning team (grief professionals) come over and help.

Whether you handle grief like Lincoln, his wife or somewhere in between, I wish for you at least one clean room in the house. Spend time there, as much as you can muster, breathing deeply and sipping from the cup of blessings, however small, that is sure to be present on the table.