Last night I facilitated the final of a five-session class on grief and loss in my congregation. The pastors had hoped for large numbers of participants and offered several sessions, of which mine was one. However, the turnout was lower than hoped.
Why? Several members told the pastors that they didn’t want to talk about that depressing subject. Some said they hadn’t experienced the death of anyone close to them so didn’t have any grief to discuss.
This was a reminder to me that we carry some limiting beliefs about grief and loss:
1) Grief is a depressing topic.
2) Grief is only about death.
Loss takes many forms
While grief and loss aren’t something we long for and readily embrace, they are a regular part of our lives. You experience loss in many ways: loss of friends, loss of community when you move, loss of job, loss of ability as you age, loss of lifestyle and some amount of freedom when you have children, loss of health with a diagnosis of illness, and many more. Even when you have chosen something (such as a move to another community, a new position or retirement), you experience the loss of some things in your life at the same time as you embrace the new. Saying hello to something generally entails saying goodbye to other things.
Talking about your loss and grief does not have to be depressing. It is, in fact, healthy. It is in facing the loss that you can move through and beyond it. In confronting it, you can do the necessary letting go that allows for new life and moving on.
I like the title of a book I read years ago: Talking About Death Won’t Kill You by Virginia Morris. The book made the argument for honesty and openness, for facing our fears about death and loss.
If you have trouble reaching for your dreams, I invite you to see whether you have some unresolved grief that needs tending. Face it. Grieve. Let go. Prepare to fly! And please contact me if you’d like to discuss grief and loss issues.