What is grief reconciliation?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 20:00

What is Grief? What is mourning?

Grief is an internal experience. For some, it is an inside emptiness-a fear-panic-loneliness-anger-guilt-longing-depression. Some say, “grief is love — with no place to go.”

Mourning is a bit different. Mourning is ‘grief’ which is expressed to the outside world. It is the process where each person ‘works through’ their grief by outwardly expressing their internal feelings.

Grief alone, without mourning, is dangerous and destructive to the human system. By coming to this group, you are beginning or continuing a healthy process of mourning.

What are you experiencing now what is it like for you?

When growing up, who taught us how to mourn?

All our lives, most of us have been taught how to acquire, not how to lose. There has been no course call LOSS 101. No wonder it is strange and painful. Many mourn their grief as they witnessed some role model, (perhaps a parent, movie or national personality) handle his or her grief.

As young people, we may have heard these messages:

• “Don’t feel bad, don’t cry.” (Message: Bury your feelings)

• “You lost your toy! Well just be good and Santa will bring another.” (Message: everything is replaceable)

• “Now! You just keep your feelings to yourself.” (Message: Don’t trust, it isn’t safe to share your feelings.)

• Who taught you how to appropriately express feelings and experience loss?


Grief Reconciliation: What is it?

Intellectually, you know you really don’t recover from your grief in the sense that everything is restored to the way it was before. You know how unlikely it is that life will ever “be the same,” yet at the beginning it is so difficult to accept. You are beginning a process-a process of “reconciliation” where you learn to become more and more adapted to a new and changed, way of living. There are a number of tasks ahead as you proceed with your individual and unique process of reconciliation.

1. You learn to effectively experience and express outside of yourself, the reality of the death.

2. You allow yourself to fully embrace the pain of the loss, while learning how to assure that you are nurtured, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

3. You learn to convert your relationship with the person who died from one of interactive presence to one of appropriate memory.

4. You learn to develop a new self-identity based on a life without the person who died.

5. You begin to relate the experience of the death to a context of new meaning in your life.

6. You develop a lasting network of support to help you through the process.

You will learn safe ways to experience and express your grief.

• You will learn how to mourn while still taking care of yourself.

• You will begin to develop a new perspective about your lost relationship and begin to clarify your self-identity.

• You will begin to discover a new sense of meaning in life while finding a network of supportive relationships to help you along the way.

• You are at an early stage of this process-be patient and take it one moment at a time.

• Trust-it does get better.

• Learning to find the pathway, for your personal reconciliation. The process is what these support group sessions are all about.

Adapted by Alan Tap-low from “The Grief Recovery Handbook,” by John W. James and Frank Cherry, as well as writings on Reconciliation Needs of the Mourner, by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.


This column is the opinion of Patricia Ann Ray, the Pastoral Care and Counseling Pastor at Shiloh Missionary Church in East Anchorage. Reach them at (907) 276-6676 or online at www.shiloh2000.com.

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