Grief: How To Respond Part II

Greetings. Welcome to my post. My hope and desire is that you will find these posts to be informative and helpful for you. Life is a journey filled with mountains and valleys in our relational life and in our personal life. Sometimes we can predict and make something happen. But sometimes we can never predict an event or relationship difficulty and we need to adjust and cope with these curve balls. At times life can be great but as you know, life can also be difficult and challenging.

In my last post, I talked about the importance of entering and not avoiding the process of grief. The reason why we enter the process of grief is to get rid of pain. For example, if you want 5 ears of corn for dinner, you need to go to your local grocery store. Home Depot does not sell ears of corn nor does your local beauty supply store. In the same way, to resolve pain, you have to go to the place called grief to get rid of this pain.

So how do you face pain? Is there good pain and bad pain? And what about suffering? How does suffering and pain go together? Or do they? It is one thing to have pain in your body due to stubbing your toe. But it is another thing to have pain when you are cut open because of cancer. Do you have to suffer to get over pain in your toe? If you have cancer, does this mean you also have to suffer?

Basically, we all have to face the reality that whatever words you may use to describe the pain you may be experiencing, the reality of life is we all hate pain. The slogan ‘No Pain, No Gain’ is something we don’t like to hear. Now this slogan or statement is true but at the core of who we are, we don’t like to face or admit this truth. For example, I wish I was fit 100% all the time. But that is a wish, a fantasy, a dream. The reality is that I have to exercise to stay somewhat fit. And I do it because it does lead to me feeling overall better about my body, my weight, my health.

So as I exercise and push my body and feel the pain in my legs and in my arms, I know this is good pain that will lead to a good gain: A healthier body. I don’t know about you but I do not want heart surgery or become a diabetic or have breathing problems due to not having a healthier body. And just because I exercise, this does not guarantee something may go wrong with my health. Instead I do exercise so I can live longer and grow old with my family. My love for my family makes me exercise to stay healthy.

The premise is this: pain can bring health. As we go through the pain of exercising our bodies, we gain strength and good things happen. When I exercise and work my muscles, they break down, and eventually they grow back as I re-build my muscles which leads to growth. Growth happens due to the pain of breaking down and building them back up. We protest this process but we know it works. Certain pain not only breaks down our bodies and muscles but certain pain also tears down aspects of our character, our emotional life, and our relational life so as to build up new areas of growth that we all need to grow. When we get rid of bad character, we also can grow new character.

So we choose to exercise or try something new to produce growth. Going back to school at age 40 may be difficult but it can produce new growth or new opportunities for financial success. But no one chooses cancer, diabetes or the loss of a loved one as an arena for growth. I get that. No one views the death of a loved one or a diagnosis of cancer as place to sign up for growth. We choose to exercise or go back to school, but we do not choose chemotherapy as a pathway to growth.

So the challenge for all of us is to explore the familiar but uninviting process of viewing pain as health and growth. We can choose to enter good pain by starting an exercise program. But we can enter bad pain when we choose surgery to remove a tumor. Both ways can lead to healing and growth. Unfortunately, and this is the key, we can never know how the pain, either good or bad, will lead to suffering. We all want to be comfortable, but sometimes we need to confront and deal with life problems. This is uncomfortable but it can be good, necessary, and healthy to produce certain types of growth. The challenge for all of us is to always remember that pain can bring health and growth.