Grieving in All Directions

Grief scatters darkness as a prism scatters light. So, when we respond to grief, we’re forced to take a soulful journey in all directions. No doubt, it would be easier if grieving were more orderly. If only there were three, or five, or even ten grieving assignments we could line up and knock off one by one. But grieving isn’t as simple as all that. Like grief, grieving is multi-dimensional.

Imagine a person facing a divorce who simultaneously experiences love, bitterness, relief, regret, depression, and anticipation about ending a marriage. Add to that, possible custody battles, property disputes, and the necessity of redefining relationships with family members and friends, including in-laws and (sometimes) stepfamily. A person experiencing divorce often acquires layer upon layer of interrelated losses to process, evoking emotions, mental states, physiological changes, behaviors, spiritual perceptions, and social dynamics that may conflict with one another.

Take a moment to reflect on a personal grief-striking loss experience – past or present. You might call to mind a death, divorce or betrayal, a loss of job, home, health, safety, or a grave disappointment or failure. Consider how your grieving responses to your loss impact/ed your relationships with yourself, others, your living space, and patterns of daily life. Some relationships may be improved and others damaged, including:
• Your relationships with loved ones, co-workers, acquaintances, God or other spiritual companions;
• Your self-image or your relationship to your body, work, play, sexuality, beliefs, values, spirituality, or religious faith;
• Your relationship to your home or workplace, food, sleep, money, alcohol, drugs, or daily routines and rhythms; and
• Your priorities, goals, or aspirations.

You can’t separate grieving from the rest of your life or confine your grieving responses to a singular relationship. Grief permeates everything, whether you’re aware of it or not. That’s why grieving can be so all-consuming and overwhelming at times.

A holistic approach to grieving requires you to know yourself through and through. No, not just know yourself, but also be willing to stake your healing on it. In her book, The Neurotic Personality of Our Time, Karen Horney wrote that the most comprehensive formula for healing is wholeheartedness, that is “to be without pretense, to be emotionally sincere, to be able to put the whole of oneself into one’s feelings, one’s work, one’s beliefs.”

So, try it – for an hour, a day, a lifetime. Wholeheartedly commit yourself to grieving as a path to healing.

Authentic grieving is like looking into a broken mirror
and seeing your whole reflection as if for the first time.

Shea Darian, Doing Grief in real Life

Published by Shea

Shea Darian, M.Div. is a family and grief educator, spiritual care provider, and award-winning author of Doing Grief in Real Life (Nautilus Award; IPPY Award) and Seven Times the Sun: Guiding Your Child Through the Rhythms of the Day. Shea is the creator of the Model of Adaptive Grieving Dynamics, published in the journal Illness, Crisis & Loss, Vol. 22(3), 2014. Books on family spirituality include Sanctuaries of Childhood: Nurturing a Child's Spiritual Life (Foreword Book of the Year Award) and Living Passages for the Whole Family: Celebrating Rites of Passage from Birth to Adulthood (Nautilus Award; Next Generation Indie Book Awards).