Lesson 5:

Giving Grief An Outlet

When one is grieving one must make sure to have an outlet for your grief.  That outlet can be crying (letting out sadness), talking or journaling (sharing anger or fear or guilt with someone), exercising (letting go of anger), or any combination of things.

“If grief is refused a natural outlet, it chooses an unnatural and more destructive way to express itself.  The question is not whether or not you will choose to mourn, but whether or not you allow yourself a constructive way to mourn.”  Free to Grieve by Maureen Rank p.42

If you block grief, you get the feelings of anger, depression, guilt and bitterness turned back on yourself. If they are not given an escape, they can fester inside. Any one can be destructive, and in combination they can beat the tar out of you. (See second box above.)

The Emotions:

          ANGER – Anger is expressed outwardly.  It can be directed at people or the injustice of the situation.  It is the most difficult to accept, particularly for Christians when we are mad at God.  It is okay to be mad at God.  He knows it anyway.  Healthy ways to work through anger include talking, journaling, tearing cardboard, punching a pillow (not someone), exercising, etc.

          DEPRESSION – You are overtaken by deep overwhelming sadness. Depression is anger’s sister expression.  It is “anger turned inward.”  Because it is internally expressed and directed at ourselves, it can be the most dangerous and the most difficult to deal with.  If an individual feels overwhelmed by this emotion, then seek professional help.

          GUILT – Guilt is anger’s devoted tag-along, a sort of “self-contempt.” Our thoughts include: “My body has failed me” and “I have failed my family.” On the Dr. Phil Show in August 2008, he said guilt implies intent.  None of us had any “intention” of doing anything to harm our baby.

          BITTERNESS – Bitterness is strong feelings of hatred and resentment.  Think of it as a “hardened ball of anger.”  It, like anger, is directed at people or situations.

When you give grief natural outlets, like talking about it or crying or journaling or praying, then you may feel anger, depression, guilt, or bitterness, BUT these feelings will eventually be directed away from you. 

When you don’t grieve, any or all of the above emotions can be turned back on you and literally “beat you up.” It can make you physically ill. One must give grief an outlet.  If we stuff the pain and grief (box it in), it WILL come back and bite us later.  It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.  I’ve seen it again and again where someone “decides” they are all better without grieving, only to discover the intense pain of grief as it rears its ugly head later.  The hurt is beyond any word I can think of to describe it.  The depth of the pain is the same whether we grieve now or later.  We must mourn and feel the intense pain.  It hurts, but we must work through the grief to get to the other side healed.  Eventually, we can move on with a normal life. It’s not the same normal we had before because we are changed, but normal as in good and productive, and even happy. We call it the “new normal.”

Journaling Exercise – Answer the following questions:

  1. What things can I do to work through my anger? What helps me feel less angry?

  2. What do I have to do to forgive myself?

  3. Who or what is my deepest anger (bitterness) directed at?

  4. Am I just sad or is depression setting in? Are there other feelings getting tangled up in my sadness? What can I do to get myself out of this emotional hole?

  5. What makes me feel good?