Dec 20 / Paul

Grief and Growth

Love is a pathway to growth. It’s not the only path, but love is unique in that it challenges us to grow both inwardly and outwardly. Love invites us to explore the inward realm of our emotions, and it also calls us outward, draws us outside our own experiences, viewpoints and habits to participate in a couple, in family, and in community.

Grief is one of our most intense experiences of love; so if love is a doorway to growth, then grief, too, is an invitation to growth.

When I lost Bonnie, seven years ago, my focus was on getting through the experience, not growing through it. But because I received grief as experience of love, I was in no hurry to get over grief, or to get rid of it. I explored my grief, writing in my journal; I spoke about grief to others, and ultimately that writing and speaking became my book, Loving Grief. That has led to countless conversations about grief, and with each conversation, the importance of grief as an opportunity for growth becomes clearer to me. It doesn’t matter if our grief is for a person who has died, for a marriage that has dissolved, for a time or place where we long to return; in grief we experience ourselves reaching for someone or something that we deeply love.

Grief challenges us to hold both ends of the spectrum of love. Grief stretches us so that we can hold the extreme sorrow of love, and in stretching that far into the shadows, we’re also able to grow and stretch toward the light, toward the ecstasy that is possible for us as loving beings.

All this growth starts with allowing grief to be, and seeing it as an expression of our love.

3 Comments

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  1. Christina W. Huffman / Apr 24 2013

    Depression and Grief: Many grief experiences are similar to those of a major depression. Depression is a natural reaction to the death of a loved one. This type of depression is called a reactive depression. It occurs as a reaction to a specific event and its duration and intensity varies. In the blueprint of your grief are moments of wonderful, joyous laughter as you recall great times and humorous incidents. An immediate sense of depression may follow the laughter. This is normal. Your emotional roller coaster ride will gradually and gently slow down and level off. Occasionally, a grief event may lead to a full clinical depression requiring medical intervention.

  2. Deandre Brady / May 16 2013

    When a death occurs children need to be surrounded by feelings of warmth, acceptance and understanding. This may be a tall order to expect of the adults who are experiencing their own grief and upset. Caring adults can guide children through this time when the child is experiencing feelings for which they have no words and thus can not identify. In a very real way, this time can be a growth experience for the child, teaching about love and relationships.

  3. Paul / May 26 2013

    Thank you, Christina and Deandre, for your insights. It seems that the expereinces of grief are endlessly variable, and yet, they unite us and invite us to grow into more profoundly human selves.

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