Shock and Denial

In the first touch of grief after the loss of a baby, we are in shock. We can’t believe this has happened to us – it seems unreal. We feel as if we are in the middle of a terrible dream and have only to wake up to discover everything is “fine” after all. But everything is not “fine” - we are in the midst of a real nightmare.

“When you suppress or repress those things which you don’t want to live with, you don’t really solve the problem because you don’t bury the problem dead…you bury it alive. It remains alive and active inside of you.” John Powell

It is normal to be uncomfortable with your grief – to resist it, fight it or deny it. But unfortunately, unlike the physical human heart, your emotional heart cannot have grief bypass surgery. You must get in touch with your grief if you are going to heal from it. This exercise is designed to help you communicate with your grief as if it had a personality of its own.

You are going to write two letters. The first letter is from you to your grief and is titled “To Grief”. Tell your grief what you are thinking and feeling about your grief experience. What do you want your grief to know about its impact on your life? Be as frank as you can. Sign and date the letter.

An example of a letter to your grief:

Dear Grief,

You are a rascal. You take my energy, my organizational abilities, my brain, and do strange things with them. I was prepared for the immediate grief and to feel the loss for a long, long time. I was not prepared for the laziness, low energy level and stress. And the bursts of anger surprised me! I am impatient with it all. You take so much out of me when I really need to be able to function well. I do not understand why.

I must confess, though, that you’ve done good things for me. I am more compassionate, understanding and tolerant. I suspect that you have given me new ways to be of service, and that God will show me those ways. Perhaps after I’ve had more time to look back, I will feel differently about you, but for right now, you are not one of my favorite friends. However, I am a better person because of you and I must not lose sight of that.

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

Approximately 24 hours after you write your letter to grief, have grief write a letter back to you. Address it to yourself and have Grief sign it. Before writing, ask yourself: What do I think my grief is telling me? What does it want from me? If Grief could speak to me, what would it say? As frankly as possible, write to yourself on behalf of your grief.

An example of Grief’s letter to you:

Dear Your Name,

I’m sorry I’ve caused you so much pain. Remember what your pastor said: “Grief is the noblest emotion of all.” It truly is the last gift of love you can give the baby you lost. So experience it in a normal way. Let your own timeframe happen. I know you are working hard to get through this phase of your life. I commend you for that. But I also want to urge you to put it all in God’s hands. I suggest you read verses on death and everlasting life in the Bible. There is an atomic bomb of hope waiting to explode between the front and back covers of your Bible.

I sense your need as you search through the Scriptures. You may truly be amazed at what you find. Also, use your time wisely. Get extra sleep once or twice a week. Soon your energy level will return.

Try to remember that I am your friend. I am a part of life. There is a purpose for me. You will see.

Sincerely,

Grief

 After you have written both letters, put them away for a day or two, and then read them both out loud to yourself. What do the letters reveal about your attitude toward the experience of grief? What new things can you learn about yourself from your letters?