What Grief Can Teach Us
Of the many things I’ve learned about grief, these are the truths that most make sense to me:
None of us loses the same person. My father was not my sister’s father. Oh, they were the same man, but my father’s relationship with my sister wasn’t the same relationship he had with me. For one thing, the relationships were developed in different times of our father’s life. My brother George was a different sibling to to my other brother than he was to me. Our relationships with him were (and are) so different that my living brother and I can’t easily connect over George’s death. It’s important to understand that we often don’t understand how and why another family member is grieving, which sometimes leads to misunderstandings and hurtful judgement of each other.
We don’t “get over” grief; instead, we integrate it into our lives. And that integration goes better if we surrender to the grief, welcome it, walk toward it, and embrace it. Only by feeling grief can we again feel better. The Sufi poet Rumi wrote, “The cure for the pain is the pain.” Healing grief can only happen when we accept and work with it.
In fact, by integrating grief, we may be able to feel joy more powerfully for having hit the depths of grief. We know that a pendulum that has swung one way must then swing the other way—right, left, right, left, right, left, right, left—until it finally rests again in the middle. That’s simple physics. Ironically, deep grief tears open the heart and a torn-open heart can bear more sadness and more joy than ever before—although such joy probably won’t happen right away.
I am more fully human for having loved and lost my family members. As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said that people are “spiritual beings on a human journey.” That journey means that we’ll necessarily experience loss and grief. Having loved and lost people through death, I’m more cautious of how I treat others. I’m kinder, more faithful, and more deeply attuned to the world around me. I’m more in touch with the world that is to come. Without grief, I was a less complete and more self-centered human. Because grief is so natural and normal, we can grow spiritually from it.
Beth Hewett, Ph.D.Beth L. Hewett is a Certified Compassionate Bereavement Care™ Provider. She earned a Ph.D. in rhetoric and writing studies. After suffering the losses of her brother, father, sister, and in-laws, she trained as a grief coach and bereavement facilitator trainer with the MISS Foundation, the Center for Loss and Life Transitions, and the National Catholic Ministry for the Bereaved.
Beth is available to provide seminars and workshops regarding such topics as:
- Developing Compassionate Grief Support Systems
- Grief and Mourning for Clergy
- Hope for Bereaved Parents
- Challenges for Bereaved Siblings
- Writing Out Grief
- Writing a Eulogy to Honor a Loved One
- Relighting the Divine Spark Within
- Mourning with Purpose
- Hope for the Holidays
- Mother/Father’s Day Mourning
Beth is available for one-on-one grief coaching in person or by phone.
Dr. Beth L. Hewett is an experienced grief coach, bereavement facilitator and facilitator trainer, author, public speaker, and writing instructor. Her specialty is mindful mourning with Bead Blessings, writing, and other purposeful activities.
Dr. Hewett is a Certified Compassionate Bereavement Care™ Provider and grief coach. Her philosophy is that we deserve support in the sadness of death. She will listen to your story and walk the grief journey with you.
- Good Words: Memorializing Through a Eulogy
- More Good Words: Practical Activities for Mourning
- More Good Words: Grief in the Workplace
- Good Words Booklets