“When the goal becomes ‘get rid of grief,’ what you do is drown.”
Our tendency as humans is to flee from pain as quickly as possible. Counselor Danny Huerta of Focus on the Family says we need to be careful, because running from grief in order to get relief has the opposite effect and can stunt our growth. When something traumatic has happened to us, we need to stop, acknowledge the loss, and deal with it in our own way.
“Personalities handle grief differently. There are certain personalities that are more equipped to handle a large amount of trauma, and there are some that just are not able to handle much.”
Don’t beat yourself up if you feel you aren’t moving through grief quickly enough. Everyone handles it differently, and everyone learns from it. This lesson can also apply when we’re supporting a friend or loved one who has suffered loss – give them space to grieve in their own way.
“Let people be who they are in their trauma. Some people may take a couple years, three years, maybe even longer than that, and some may take a week or two. And that doesn’t make them cold. It just means that they have a different way of processing.”
How can we handle grief in a healthy way?
Look for post-traumatic growth instead of going to post-traumatic stress.
“How can I jump and bounce back? That’s the ultimate goal – how can I eventually get to gratitude and understanding?”
Danny urges us to be patient and aware of everything we’re feeling.
“I need to flow with the tide; I can’t fight it. I’m supposed to feel and experience grief. The addictions and the escapes come when I’m trying to fight it.”
Danny recommends making a list ahead of time of what will bring you stability and peace. Whether it’s taking a long walk, journaling, going to a concert, or drawing. There are things God has put in us that will help us walk through a deep loss. Thinking clearly before a loss will prepare you and anchor you when the loss actually takes place.
When you go with grief and move through it as long as you need to, eventually you’ll feel you can move forward and adjust to the new normal.