Aug 18 / Paul

Grief Soup, Part Two

(If you haven’t read Grief Soup, Part One, please read  it first)

So what are we to do with Grief Soup, the mixture of emotions that well up in us after we’ve suffered a heart-breaking and life-altering loss?

As long as the emotions are all mixed together, it’s difficult to experience grief as love. And a single fierce emotion, like anger or fear, for example, can “shout down” the softer emotions, the way too much salt overpowers all the other flavors in a soup.

Fortunately, by reflecting and by talking to a generous listener, we can begin to separate out the emotions that go along with grief. When you see what they are, you can deal with each one in a way that’s appropriate and effective.

You’ve felt fear before, and you have ways of dealing with it. You’ve also dealt with anger, regret, resentment and loneliness, haven’t you? For each of these emotions, you have one or more actions you can take to deal with them. And for any one of them, you could ask your friends what they’ve found to be effective.

For example, if you notice that you’re afraid of what the future holds, you can set to work devising strategies to deal with possible problems, and you can also ask your knowledgeable friends for advice in areas where they have expertise.

Is your experience of grief flavored with resentment or regret about things that happened or things that should have happened? Probably, resentment and regret are emotions that you’ve dealt with before; perhaps you’ve found, as many people have, that the most effective response to resentment and regret is forgiveness – forgiveness of others for actions or omissions that you’re holding against them; and forgiveness of yourself for actions or omissions for which you blame yourself.

Anger, too, is often best dealt with by forgiveness. Look carefully: you are angry because of something that should have happened differently – something that someone else should have done or should not have done. But that “should” is yours. You own it. It’s your value, your judgment; and however admirable it may be, it’s also yours to let go of with forgiveness. Forgiveness is always yours to choose.

I’m not saying that any one of the specific responses I’ve named will work for you; but you already know, or can learn, how to deal with anger, resentment, fear, loneliness, and many other emotions that may be present in your own version of Grief Soup.

So what are you to do with grief itself? I’m going to suggest that once you have dealt with these other emotions, there’s nothing you need to do about grief.

Really?

Yes, I hope you’ll find there’s nothing about grief that you need to cure or heal or fix, because grief is simply how your love for the person you’ve lost feels now. That beloved person is absent from the world, and present in your heart. By all means, deal with your anger, meet your fears head-on, forgive wherever you have resentment or regrets, fill your times of loneliness in whatever way fulfills you. And do the one thing with grief that is effective and appropriate: allow it to be a full-hearted experience of your love for the person you’ve lost.

May you be blessed in finding that your grief is your love.

One Comment

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  1. Ida Calhoun / May 14 2013

    Is your experience of grief flavored with resentment or regret about things that happened or things that should have happened? Probably, resentment and regret are emotions that you’ve dealt with before; perhaps you’ve found, as many people have, that the most effective response to resentment and regret is forgiveness – forgiveness of others for actions or omissions that you’re holding against them; and forgiveness of yourself for actions or omissions for which you blame yourself.

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