Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional

Emily Thiroux Threatt, author of the upcoming Loving and Living Your Way Through Grief, has written a blog post about the choices we have when dealing with grief.

When grieving, we all feel pain. We can recognize it and deal with it constructively, or we can melt into the deep abyss of suffering, unable to rise up from the mire. The good news is, you have choice in this matter. You can choose to survive and thrive.

Compare the loss of a loved one by death to the birth of a baby. In labor, the contractions start slowly, giving your body time to adjust. As the pains come more frequently, they are more intense. Finally when the pains are so close together and so strong, relief comes in pushing hard till the release of the baby sliding into the world.

Death is the opposite it birth, a similar process but reversed. The loss starts with incredible pain that’s deep and hard and seemingly eternal. Yet soon, you can take a breath. And in those breaths you find moments of peace. Grief alternates like those labor pains. The further away you get from the actual transition, the further apart are the waves of pain.

The key here is what you do in the in between, those times when you may feel empty or deeply sad. Sometimes it may feel like you are in a fog and things don’t feel quite real. Recognize these times as a place to heal. But how can you do that?

Journaling through this journey helped me more than anything else. If you feel that you are suffering, write about that. What does your suffering look like? If suffering was a person, what would you say to him/her? Tell it how you feel. Ask it what it wants from you? When you tire of the conversation, you can tell it that you no longer want to visit with them and politely say goodbye. Although suffering may still come to your door on occasion, you have the strength to not open it.

You can do this exercise in your journal with any feeling that comes up. You may feel anger, rage, depression. Or any other emotion. When you recognize that an emotion is directing your thoughts and actions, get out your journal and work on it in writing. And if the emotion try’s to visit you again, just say to it, “Sorry I can’t deal with you right now. I have plans to spend time with love and joy instead.”

Even when you feel weak and out of control, remember that ultimately, you are in charge of your life. Make the conscious choice to take the best care or yourself, to live your very best life. Ron told me once when I had said “I’m sorry” too many times in one day, “Do you think I want to be with a sorry woman?” That caused me to pay attention to what I was doing. What you speak is who you are. So when suffering comes to visit and you turn it away, in your journal, write a list of who you are. Start each item if you list with “I am.” I am strong. I am beautiful. I am joyful. I am hope. I am love. I am sure you can list many more things about the perfect person you really are.

You can rise up from that mire of suffering. You can live that beautiful inspiring like you long for. Take good care of your precious self.

I am always here for you.