by Erica D. Fulton (MA-Counseling, MDiv., LPC-Intern, Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor)
The grief journey is one that can expose us and make us vulnerable. It appears as if the more we try to camouflage our grief. It sticks out like a sore thumb. What would the journey be like if we refined the grief as a cleansing agent? The journey of grief is like a roller coaster for some. I liken the journey of grief to taking a long cleansing shower. As human beings we are created to grief. We were not created to house and be filled wit toxic emotions. I do believe I intelligent designer. I believe that the designer knew that as human beings we would need a way to process loss and express our heartfelt emotions as we travel through the journey. Grief and loss are events that human beings have experienced for thousands of years.
There is much to be gained in the grief journey. At first, it may seem like you are being engulfed in huge waves. Everybody’s experience is different. Some individuals experience a release of peace or rest. In both circumstances, a cleansing occurs I the midst of the journey. The cleansing is not predictable. As human beings, we often want to know the beginning from the end. The unknown is often what we fight against. For example, not knowing how the family dynamics will work now that the loved one is missing. Questions arise and there are not always quick fixes and fast answers. A waiting occurs in the journey where we can allow our soul to take a pause. We pause to reflect on what the journey is teaching us about ourselves and our spirituality. As we reflect, we feel an initial cleansing like tiny raindrops. If you have ever taken shower, you sometimes never turn it on full blast. You allow the water to wash over to fully embrace the experience of taking shower. Hence, the process can mirror taking a shower in that feeling every emotion can a healing agent that helps the body to reset.
The journey allows us to grow and even shed tears, which can be an example of cleansing. Tears are also a beautiful gift and a unique way of how the body will release emotions, happy or sad. I often think about babies who are in a womb for nine months most of the time. No one has to teach how to express emotion. Suddenly, they are no longer I the womb of their mother. They have left that haven to now be in this world. States, “Those who sow in tears will reap in joy.” In other words, the same tears that once represented for some grief, loss, sadness can now become a reservoir where hope is rebirthed as a new season is suddenly ushered in.
As the cleansing takes place, the emotions come to the surface, and the pain may feel all too real. It has been scientifically proven that crying is cleansing for our bodies. As we release and acknowledge those moments of grief, we become more aware and informed of ourselves. Our evolution becomes heightened. I reflect on how the loss of my husband and grandmother though years apart refined me. As I allowed myself to find my new normal, I gave myself grace to grow. Yet, I carry a part of them with me, which I count to be a gift from God. With each grief journey, I emerged a different person and with a more resilient spirit. I once remember reading a meme which said each level requires a different version of you. How true is it on our grief journey! The cleansing occurs when we make adjustments and take on new roles becoming comfortable with the discomfort. The grief journey can be a place where we transition from a caterpillar to a butterfly. The opposite is true. We can also become bitter or we can resist growth. We can refuse to take the shower and ignore the pain in the journey, which can serve as our greatest place of service.
Sometimes we want the grief journey to be nothing more but a bad dream so we can return to what was. What if the grief journey is making room for the new? What if we are fighting the next phase of the journey meant to propel us into our destiny? I mentioned briefly about my losses. They taught me so much about myself; somewhere I became awakened to a strength that lies within through the lens of my faith. The grief journey can put our faith to the test where we find ourselves in what feels like a refiner’s fire. I will acknowledge that the journey can seem long, painful, exhausting, and yet exhilarating. If you continue to press on through the journey, you will find yourself renewed, refined, and reinvented. I leave with a nugget that has carried through the worst moments of pain and what seemed to be the deepest level of exhaustion: “When I have been tried, I will come forth as pure gold.”