Our children are supposed to outlive us. When they don’t, we are plunged into utter darkness and a world of complete chaos. To complicate matters, grief is all too often placed in the realm of psychology, while the spiritual ramifications are ignored. Human beings are physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. One cannot be separated from the other. When you “treat” only one part of a person’s grief, the healing is incomplete. Most importantly, grief is not a neurosis but, rather, a natural response to loss. Graceful Grieving addresses the griever as a whole being.
Our culture doesn’t allow for true and complete grieving, particularly for the loss of an infant, because grief cannot be effectively processed in a “drive-thru, microwave, three-day bereavement leave” manner. The message a parent receives is clear: move on; don’t dwell on the negative; you can always have another one; adopt. We are forced to bottle up our true emotions as a means of making others comfortable when we are the ones needing comfort.
What does Graceful Grieving mean?
When I hear the word “graceful” in combination with “grieving,” I get the image of a very “together” person. The kind of person that never “loses it.” The kind of person who cries but their nose never gets red.
We are often congratulated for being stoic, but I assure you, stoicism in the face of loss is not graceful!
Allow me to share a different image of being graceful. Let’s use the analogy of a ballet dancer, gliding and leaping across the stage effortlessly and gracefully. What happens if the dancer sustains a major trauma to his or her body? Well, if the dancer gets the right treatment and physical therapy, with pain and effort, he or she may be able dance gracefully once again.
But what if the dancer who has sustained a major trauma to his or her body, ignores or avoids the pain? Without proper treatment, the pain becomes so constant that the dancer is numb to it, the body stiffens and the dancer loses the ability to be graceful. Losing the ability to dance, their identity is lost as is their purpose. Without purpose, they find themselves in despair. I see despair as a major spiritual crisis.
The same principle applies to grief and loss. Although I don’t dance, before I lost my baby daughter, I was able to move through life in a somewhat graceful way. Because of life circumstances, I postponed working through my grief, both emotionally and spiritually, my continual pain and emptiness left me in complete despair. As a minister, without my connection to God or Spirit, I not only lost my identity but I was thrown into a spiritual crisis. I lost my ability to move through life gracefully. I lurched through the current available grief theories and paradigms, some helped emotionally but none of them addressed the gaping hole in my spiritual life.
In my own search for order and comfort, I discovered a need for a new approach to healing the spiritual wounds of grief, including anger with God and the loss of faith. Combining ancient spiritual wisdom, years of spiritual study, my own experience, and reading over 50 books about grief and surviving the loss of an infant, I developed a true and complete grieving process I call Graceful Grieving.
If you are struggling with grieving the loss of a baby, Graceful Grieving, Inc., is developing and providing many new tools that will help you fully express your grief.
Infant and pregnancy loss can be a major trauma to parents, physically, emotionally and even spiritually. I want you to know grief is not to be feared. Grieving is not a sign of weakness, in fact, it takes a great deal of courage to face our grief and when we do the work, we are liberated and emboldened. Then you can return to your life’s stage and move gracefully once again.