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Road to recovery

Road to recovery

By: By Don Harold Lawrence

In his book, “A Grief Observed,” C.S. Lewis describes the kind of grief he experienced following the death of his wife, Joy Davidman. He says that reality “smashed his dream to bits,” and he describes himself as “moping and snarling.” He was “lonely and inconsolable.” In this journal he details his doubts, anger and awareness of the frailty of human life. He wonders if his grief is not incurable, and he asks how one goes about putting the shattered pieces of life back together and rebuilding life. He describes how he found his way back to life.
One indication that we are moving toward acceptance of the death of our loved one is when we are able to speak about them in the past tense, talk about them openly, let go of grief, and no longer feel a need to hold on to grief.
Letting go is part of the process of creating a new identity and a new future. We discover the importance and necessity of establishing a new identity because our old identity was so tied up and identified with the one we lost.
It is difficult to let go and come to terms with the reality that life goes on in spite of our losses. Yet, if life is to go on for us, and if we are to have a future as fully functioning persons, we must learn to let go, accept the reality of what has happened, and adjust to it.
In his book, “The Healing of Persons,” Dr. Paul Tournier emphasizes the importance of resolving conflicts that happened at particular stages and places throughout life and not dragging these unresolved conflicts into the next stage of life because we are unable to deal creatively with the next stage of life if we are still preoccupied with unresolved conflicts from former days. He stresses the importance of the confession of sin, sharing the struggles of life with a good listener, moving toward a resolution of the conflicts of life, and making peace with the past. This enables us to be free and move ahead with our life.
When we are experiencing grief, our deeper defense mechanisms and unconscious mind shield and protect us from the brunt of pain in this type of crisis, especially if it is the death of a close loved one. Up until the time of acceptance of the reality of death the impact of loss has been cushioned by all previous stages and mechanisms of grief. To remain in any of the stages of grief (anger, guilt, denial, disbelief, bargaining, idealizing, depression, etc.) continues to cushion us from the final and total realization and acceptance of our loss. It is easier for us to remain angry or depressed or complain about loneliness than to accept what has happened and get back into the mainstream of life.
Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is
Published in The Messenger on 10.25.07

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