Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Losses of the Heart ~ It Takes Time to Grieve

A friend and I were talking about loss last night—particularly losses that are heart-related. Grief, I told her, is not something you can skip over and suddenly be on the other side of it. How we wish it were that simple. But it is a process that you have to go through. Grieving is not a short road to travel.

Oh, there are those who attempt to go forward without grieving, but I’ve seen it too many times. Unprocessed grief, regarding major losses in our lives, will influence everything we do and touch until it is processed. It’s like dead weight. You may not recognize it, but the people around you will.

“The moment we bury what we can’t bear to look at, we decrease our chance for the recovery we desire. Unresolved issues become crippling.” Those are the words of healthcare communications expert and author, Ina Albert. She says 20 minutes a day is all it takes to transform grief and pain into healing, and I happen to agree with her.

Ms. Albert’s book, Write Your Self Well (Mountain Greenery Press), helps you learn how to put on paper the painful losses and experiences that have left you broken and tired. It allows you the opportunity to say what you’ve kept inside, perhaps for a long time.

I’m not here promoting Ina Albert, or her book. Truth is, I’ve never even read it, because I don’t need to. I know, from experience, that writing in a personal journal about painful losses has been one of the keys to recovering from them. But be warned. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. Unless you write your raw emotions and feelings, re-living those agonizing moments, you’re wasting your time.

And you need to write (not type) it all down. I don’t know how to explain it, but the actual motion of writing with a pencil or pen, and pausing, and writing, and taking some time to walk away and cry, it’s all part of the healing process.

Image by Deborah DeWit Marchant

The good news is once you’ve spilled those experiences and words and feelings onto the paper, in private, the relief will be certain. Twenty-minutes at a time, word-by-word, sentence-by-sentence, your grief will go from being pressed down and heavy, to being out there for you to examine and deal with. Every day that you write will take a little more weight off of your heart. I promise, it will.

To avoid grieving is, perhaps, a symptom of this instant-gratification society in which we live. Things move fast. There’s Twitter and Facebook and e-mail and texting. We don’t want to miss a thing. I mean, who has time to grieve?

But grieving takes time, and you owe it to yourself, and to those who love you, and will love you in the future, to take time to grieve. It hurts while it lasts, yes, and it's equally important not to get stuck in any of the seven stages of grief, but I believe grieving is necessary, in order to experience a full life going forward. I believe there's no other way.



  1. Hi Dayle....Couldn't agree with you more. It does, indeed, take time to grieve and it is work that MUST be done in order to have a quality life. Thanks for your insightful post. Susan

  2. Oh, Dayle, how helpful this post can be for those who have experienced loss and grief. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Thank you for this timely post, Dayle. My youngest daughter has just been through a very tough break up with someone she thought was "the one". I am going to have her read this.

  4. I could not agree more that it is dangerous (and frankly futile) to try to get past grief without going through it.

    I hadn't heard that about journaling, especially the long hand part. I used to journal more regularly before the keyboard age. I will definitely be taking your words to heart.

  5. Thank you. Thank you for saying this. I have found that I have little blips in the road. I stumble and fall. And when I'm face to pavement, I have to let a little more out. I have to drain the grief from my soul. So I can get up, and keep moving forward.

  6. Amen-Beautifully said! I agree about writing out the pain...it is the best way I know to move forward and walk THROUGH the pain- xo Diana

  7. This is a wonderful post, Dayle. Your posts/wisdom reminds me so much of your sweet mother's wisdom. Love you much.

  8. Two of my friends have recently lost their husbands and I see their grieving process before my very eyes. In reading your post, and watching them, I often wonder if God is preparing me for my loss. One of us will go first, and admittedly, I hope it's him, but that's not for me to decide, is it? I appreciate your thoughtful words, Dayle.

  9. Wonderful! I've read this through a couple of times now, and have chosen to believe this, even tho' the loss of two individuals I held most dear have been gone 8 years.
    Wonder if I been resisting all this time, for fear going THROUGH is the same as GETTING OVER ... if it stops hurting, am I dishonoring them somehow? (Silly and twisted, isn't it?)

  10. Thank you for this post. You are so right about this. When my dad died earlier this year I was so caught up in looking after my mom's grief that I pushed mine aside. Once things settled down a bit, the grief bubbled to the surface in a negative attitude toward life in general. It was only until I acknowledged and wept (and still do every now and then) that the healing started. I wish I was a pen to paper writer...I am going to schedule 10 minutes a day to just put my thoughts, grief or otherwise, down on paper.
    Thanks for blessing my me with your words and have a wonderful weekend. Patty

  11. So beautiful. I lost my son, my only child at the age of 17 in 2005. It was just 7 years since he has been gone. WE learn to work through the pain but it will always remain. I am writing about it if I ever get it finished! lol Thank you


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