A mathematical axiom is something that is true whether you like it or not. Learning four axioms about grief helps in taking control of it. They help in developing the stamina and patience it takes to endure the burden, stress and duration of grief. The first axiom says, The way out of grief is through it. The second one says The very worst kind of grief is yours. The third says, Grief is hard work. Like it or not, all of these statements are true. So is this one, which is axiom number four:
Effective grief work is not done alone.
You may have heard someone say, “Grief is such a personal experience that it should be kept to yourself.” Or, “Nobody can understand and help. You have to handle your own grief.”
Statements like these are worse than myths. They are lies. They can block the way to grief recovery. It is another fact of life and loss that effective grief recovery is not done alone. Your grief should never be a private affair. You need other people as much as you need air to breathe.
One of the rewards for leading grief support groups for more than thirty years is watching the miracle of healing and hope that emerges from people sharing their grief experiences. I have seen many hundreds of people find that there is more than comfort in such sharing. There is healing.
One study showed that people who keep their sorrow to themselves run a much higher risk of having their grief become distorted (some counselors call it “infected”) and experiencing physical illness.
The more you talk about your loss and grief, write about your feelings and share the grief of others, the more effectively you will cope with your own loss.
I am not suggesting that it makes the recovery process easy. I am convinced that it is necessary.
If you accept that these axioms represent four key facts about recovering from any major loss, you will be on the way to a new normal for your life.
Next month the topic of this column will be, “The Healing Power of Keeping a Journal.”
Bob Deits, M.Th.