Grieving seems to be something we have no trouble embracing as children. But when we
become adults we often seem to have no idea how to handle it. Is it because of our age or what we’re taught as we grow older?
Consider how reluctant most men are to cry. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to cry? Why must they fight how their body naturally handles grief? I know my opinion of masculine strength and emotions has definitely
changed since my son was born two years ago.
As bedtime approached a little while ago, it was apparent his binky (pacifier) was broken. It had turned into a choking hazard, but that didn’t matter to him. We ushered him towards bed and the dreaded desire was voiced.
My wife looked at my son and uttered a simple, yet divinely-inspired phrase, “I’m sorry sweetie. Binky is broken.”
For my son, who had become immensely attached to his binky, this should have felt like the end. But, for some reason, he understood.
“Binky broke. Sad.”He kept repeating this phrase. Not just that night, but for the next week and even another
week later, “Binky broken. Sad.”
There were no temper tantrums, no shutting down, just a simple phrase. Lets take a simple lesson from a little man who is close to my heart. “Binky broken. Sad.” For the sake of our emotional, physical and spiritual health, we need to grieve. Even if you just use simple words repeated over and over. Grieving does not need to be complex. Don’t worry about sounding silly. Give yourself permission to express yourself using the simplest and most direct words. Sad. Sad. Hurts. I Hurt. I am sad.The message to most of us over the last couple generations has been that emotions are a sign of weakness; that they are embarrassing or just plain bad. But, what most people don’t realize is that grieving is our body’s way of processing emotions. Without proper grieving or emoting our body stores those emotions, which can result in being overwhelmed, emotionally triggered or other physical health issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue and many others.So what is next? How do you learn to grieve? First off while some grieving can be done alone the most effective grieving happens when you allow yourself to grieve with someone. While this combined experience can be uncomfortable it actually allows a person to feel known and at the same time has the capacity to release greater chemicals in the body that help in the healing and relaxing process. If you have a spouse or a good friend it might mean risking using these simple words and telling her that you are sad or hurting. When this seems too risky seek out someone who can help. Maybe a pastor or leader at your church or a trusted friend but sometimes this even isn’t enough.
Reaching out to a professional Christian counselor might just be the best solution for you.
In the safe environment of the counseling office you can explore what you are feeling and what is keeping you from being able to share or release it. There are often many factors that inhibit our ability to connect with much satisfaction to those around us. These might come from what you learned about emotions and relating to people from your family of origin, past hurts from other relationships or even generally beliefs about emotions that stem from the culture you grew up in.
Many times your emotions are literally tangled up in a sea of beliefs, feelings, perception and fears that stem from your past. A professional Christian counseling environment can help you gain freedom from these things and allow you life and relationship that are fulfilling and satisfying.
Erik Mildes, MA, LMHC, Clinical Supervisor
Couples and Individual Counselor