GRIEF AND LOSS

‘Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.’

William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Loss can be associated with many situations not just death; separation, divorce, unemployment, retirement, enforced change, limitations of the physical body and the process of aging, can leave us feeling bereft. These are some of the major hurdles that life throws into our way.

However, we all experience loss in many small ways each day; in every choice we make inevitably there is a loss. Consider nine options laid out on a table for you to choose from; deciding on just one means rejecting eight others. In fact the more choice we have the harder it becomes to decide. We dither, we procrastinate….

Procrastination is often a fear of loss disguised as ‘laziness’;
• fear of losing what has been achieved
• fear of losing the ‘ideal’, the dream, the object of desire
• fear of losing the hope of change for the better.

Avoidance of loss can prevent us from beginning;
• Why make the bed, I’m only going to get in it again.
• Why go on holiday I’ll only have to come back.
• Why start a relationship, it’s bound to end one way or another.
• Why go for another job, I’ll only fail at that too.

Attachment and loss are intrinsic to relationship, to what it is to be human. To feel love, to feel attachment to another, increases the risk of loss and loss comes accompanied by the pain of grief, the pain of absence.

Unresolved grief can be stored in the body, long after the traumatic event or loss has passed and has been associated with cardio vascular and respiratory problems.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is thought that excessive (complicated grief) damages the lungs – think about this for a minute – when you feel stressed, do you notice how tight your chest feels and how shallow your breathing becomes, maybe you even hold your breath?

A client shared his experience of feeling ‘a hole in the chest’ after the death of his father.

Our spiritual compass is our guide toward and through this final doorway. Our faith supports us in ‘dying a good death’ and making sense of the life lived, whilst alluding to what might lie beyond the bounds of the physical body.

How does your faith support you in facing loss, accepting limitation, ageing and the passing of time and ultimately prepare you for death?

PRAYER OF AN ANONYMOUS ABBESS

Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.

Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.

Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.

I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others.

Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.

Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy.

Let me discover merits where I had not expected them and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any.

And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.

Amen.

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