Thursday, June 28, 2007

Healthy Grieving: Part III


Continuing today with my interview of Women's Lifegroup & Pastoral Care Minister Kathy Padgett from 121 Community Church. Kathy joins us this week with thoughts on the subject of grief. The series began on Monday... scroll down to catch up!

Sarah:

OK, Kathy. Let's talk about our responses to grief. Beginning first with what we shouldn't do. Question #5: What are some of the unhealthy ways we respond to grief?

Kathy:

When we "avoid" grief, we actually begin a downward cycle called "pain avoidance" which will manifest itself in unhealthy ways. When we run, we begin to suffer things such as physical or emotional illness, alcoholism, drug abuse, marital strife, truancy (school and/or work), fatigue, promiscuity, depression, broken relationships, poor job performance... any of these things will cause a new experience of pain...

Sarah:

(lovely...)

Kathy:

... which will add to the grief already there, which can cause a person to keep running, or run in a different direction. What ends up happening is layer upon layer of negative experiences in a person's life, many times to the point of suicide. There is nothing good that comes from running or from avoiding grief. The truth is you can't run from it! You can't avoid it! It's a lie to think you can! (and obviously, it is Satan's biggest lie to people who are in grief!)


Sarah:

Some people rush into new relationships more quickly than others following a significant loss. Does this speak to the depth of love present in the original relationship -- i.e., those who love more deeply will move on less quickly? Or is something else going on?

Kathy:

People who grieve well (and I mean that they don't run from the pain, but push into it) tend to move on in every phase of their lives more quickly than those who don't. They are able to enter into new relationships at the right time. However, I have seen many people run to someone else as a "solution" for their grief, which is not grieving at all, but displacing the grief into a new relationship. And if that new relationship doesn't fill the void caused by grief (which it can't), the relationship will fall apart.

You see many many men who are widowed re-marry very quickly...and oftentimes those marriages are rocky, at best. That poor new wife cannot become the dearly departed wife, as much as the husband may try to make her be! And she also cannot take his grief away...he still has to push through that pain on his own.

Sarah:

Question #6: What are healthier ways to respond?

Kathy:

In the beginning, right after a loss, just getting through the day is a victory. And consider it a victory! Getting through the day-to-day chores and duties for a few months is huge. I won't even begin grief therapy with someone for several months. Shock is usually still present in most people for quite some time. After a period of time, however, (usually 3-6 months) there are some very healthy and helpful things you can do which are therapeutic: THINK, WRITE, TALK, AND WEEP.

Let's begin with THINK: people often tell grieving people when they remember an event or place connected with the loss, "Oh, just put it out of your mind," but that is bad advice. They need to be unafraid of their own thoughts. For instance, instead of avoiding driving by the Sonic where you used to sit and eat popcorn chicken with your sister who is now dead, you should go to that Sonic and eat popcorn chicken as often as possible... until you can do it without feeling like someone has stabbed you in the gut with a chef's knife!

Sarah:

(ouch...)

Kathy:

So, don't avoid thinking about someone/something, and eventually you won't be afraid of the pain associated with that memory. It will actually be a warm memory.

Coming Tomorrow: More of my interview with Kathy Padgett on healthy grieving... the importance of writing, talking and weeping!

(Pic by janesdead; see http://flickr.com/photos/shelbob/47702929/ for restrictions.)

On my I-pod... When You Love Someone by Bethany Dillon (Bridge to Teribithia Soundtrack)

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