This current series of discussions titled, “Living Gracefully with Uncertainty and Change,” has been built around the idea that “Knowledge = Strength.” My hope is to break down the process of grief into palatable parts, so that you might be able to identify each facet of the grief cycle and therefore discern where you might be and where you’d like this all to lead.
As a reminder, there are 6 Pieces of Transitional Grief Patterning” (TGP) which include:
Loss/ “Pain” → Shock/ “Anger” → Protest/ “Remembering” → Disorganization/ “Guilt”
→ Reorganization/ “Forgiving” → Recovery/ “Gratitude”
We explored Loss/ “Pain” and their partner Fear already, explaining that Loss-Pain and Fear do not need to be stop points for changes occurring in one’s life. All these patterns of the grief cycle can and should be seen as places of growth. “The process of grieving involves pain because it is a birthing process, a stretching and tearing that opens the way for a new spirit to emerge. It requires the knitting together of painful and pleasant memories to discover a new way of understanding ourselves,” Dan Moseley: Lose-Love-Live.
While these places of grief can produce fear, keep moving…feeling pain teaches us truth!
Shock and “Anger” are the next phases of grief that can come into a play. This is where the body and mind go into a holding pattern of self-preservation and what I term the “Fog Time” descends. We go into a mode of survival where sometimes we feel a numbness, and statements such as “I can’t keep a thought going,” and “I can’t breathe,” (side note: shock can produce anxiety and anxiety comes from the word that means “to choke”) are expressed and experienced. The awareness that events lie outside our range of understanding or control gives us the illusion of an inability to adequately picture the future. Holding on to foundational truths can ease the shock and lift the veil slightly during these times:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5&6
Disorientation from a transitional shock breeds anger. Anger is a natural response to an identity crisis. We want concretes. We want answers and the foundational structures of our life back. The comfort zone in life, when removed, backs us into a corner and we come out swinging! Being angry is a very natural response to loss or change. Dan Moseley in his book Lose – Love – Live , states, “Anger is, among other things, the response the body feels when it senses a threat.”
How we react to this anger is another issue. Dealing with this emotion and physical response to changes in our lives in a healthy or negative way may define health or further crisis. There comes a point in every person’s life where one must decide his or her own path. Left or right could mean the place of wonderful transition and growth OR staying in a state of stagnation and regression. We use these situations to either wake ourselves up or put ourselves to sleep.
The good news is that all of these transitional patterns are natural, God directed, and growth producing if we choose to allow them to be, and each step provides the catalyst for the next phase of the healing process:
Protest/ “Remembering” → Disorganization/ “Guilt” → Reorganization/ “Forgiving”
→ Recovery/ “Gratitude”
Being in touch with our Shock/ “Anger” is a vital part of growing spiritually. “To grow spiritually requires centering our lives in that which can sustain us in the midst of the changing world around us,” Dan Moseley: Lose – Love – Live. All of this may feel like a huge maze we must maneuver to find an unknown ending. However, it may be when there’s a big disappointment, change, or “shake-up” in our lives, the reality is that we don’t actually know if it’s the end of the story or the beginning of a great adventure!