Resisting Grief

There are many things that can cause us to resist grief and these things can impact both your inner self and your relationships with others. No one wants to or looks forward to sitting in grief but it is a necessary part of your healing journey.


Reasons for Resisting Grief

When we first hear of a loss, we often feel shock which is followed by disbelief or denial. Initially, this is your brain protecting you from the abrupt pain that loss will bring. This can be helpful in certain situations as it can give you space before the reality of the situation sinks in. However, this is not a healthy place to stay for long periods of time. To combat this, it may be beneficial to set aside a particular time to grieve in a healthy and safe environment.


Here are examples of how you can set aside time to grieve in a healthy and safe way: 

  1. Have a trusted friend, mentor or confidant over to your home on the weekend to just sit and talk about the new reality of the loss.
  2. Setting a specific amount of time to focus on your loss (it could be a few hours to a few weeks, depending on the significance of the loss), in this time, allow yourself to mourn, cry, and remember the person or circumstance that you lost.
  3. Schedule a trip, either solo or with a trusted friend, with the specific purpose of grieving your loss.
  4. Set up regular counseling appointments to process your grief.


However, you decide to process your grief, remember to be gentle, patient and kind as you work through it. You may even need to come up with a word or phrase that reminds you that grief is a process.


Some helpful phrases might be: 

  • I know I’m going to be okay.
  • I know there is a purpose in my suffering.
  • I am not alone in my paid.
  • This adjustment will take time.


Religious or Spiritual Reasons for Resisting Grief

Another area that often holds us back from grieving could be for spiritual or religious reasons. Since I am a Christian, I will navigate this resistance through a Christian lens. However, I am sure there are other religions or spiritual practices that could fall under this umbrella as well.


In light of Christianity, there is often the resistance to grief as if it is a sin or not trusting in the hope of heaven enough. This is where many of the trite (though perhaps well meaning) and often painful phrases for times of grief come from such as:

  • “Don’t be sad, they are with the angels now.”
  • “You should be happy since they are in heaven now.”
  • “Heaven needed another angel.”


The issue with these, is that we can have faith that someone is in heaven, and at the same time, realize that our reality feels like a version of hell. Simply being a Christian does not remove pain but gives a purpose and a hope through the pain.


One of my favorite verses on grief is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13. It says, “we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope” (NIV). In this passage, the author is stating that, while we do not grieve like those who are not Christians, we do grieve.


Not only that, but we have a record of deep emotions being expressed in places like the book of Psalms or Lamentations in the Old Testament. In the New Testament when John says that, “Jesus wept” at the loss of his friend and the pain of death and sin (John 11:35, NIV). The truth is that expressing emotions, including grief, is not a sin. In fact, expressing our emotions is biblically demonstrated by Christ. As we read through the examples found in the Bible, we find that we have permission to grieve, and a future hope that we can hold on to – even in the midst of grief.


Cultural Reasons for Resisting Grief

Finally, the cultural reasons for resisting grief are very present. The American, industrialized view of grief is heartlessly methodical. Many places provide a mere 3 days of bereavement time off from work – as if the loss of a loved one can be recovered from in that span of time. Not only that, but relationally we expect people to begin to get over things much earlier than is reasonable to expect. Many times, men feel this pressure even more than women, although it can and often does go either way. We must create a safe environment for us to feel these emotions and give ourselves permission not to meet the cultural expectations.


If you find yourself or someone you love experiencing grief, remind yourself to allow the grief to happen and to find people to help ground you through it. If you find that you want some additional care, please contact us and set up an appointment with one of our counselors. We would love to walk with you through the journey of grief.


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