Love, Grief, and Healing

img_2819-c-300x243-9352835A few days ago was the first anniversary of my Dad’s death. On March 7, 2018, it was one year since my Dad passed away.

On the morning of this anniversary, I was in an orthopedic surgeon’s office being poked and prodded by the doctor after suffering an extraordinarily painful herniated disc. As I hobbled around the doctor’s office, I had a chance to think about many things.

First, I thought of my Dad. Next, I thought of my love for him and the grief love engenders. I also thought about what it meant to be a loving human being in a world that, at times, seems a bit harsh. And truth be told, mostly, I thought about the reality of a painfully exploded disc which sent jelly-like detritus northward into my spinal column compressing a highly sensitive nerve which ordinarily served my legs entirely without notice or clamor.

I believe all these things are related. Let me explain.

Grief is a tricky emotion. If you listen to some of the experts on the subject, you’ll learn about stages and processes. As a former project manager with a very linear and methodical mind, this all sounds so neat and tidy.

Experts tell us during grief we experience denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance. I’m no expert on grief but like many of us, I’ve walked through my share of losses – some sudden and others expected.

Each experience of grief for me was different and painful in its own unique way. Sometimes it’s subtle and other times it’s blunt. Most importantly, the process after each death wasn’t neat and tidy at all but more like riding a poorly greased roller coaster with unexpected bumps and curves. So much for a neat linear process.

I do know one thing. Grief and love are linked. It’s somewhat like investing. Love is the principal we invest and grief is the interest earned on our investment. The more you’ve invested the more interest you will earn. If you grieve much, good for you, you’ve invested much in love.

I know another thing, on this roller coaster ride of life, it’s good to have a friend or two along capable of sitting in the steel car with you. Though highly personal, grief does appreciate company every now and again. It’s especially comforting to know we are not alone and others have made this journey too.

Grief seems to impact all parts of the human person. You may have heard of the mind/body connection discussed in recent health literature. This concept suggests our mind and our emotions can impact our physical health. I believe in these ideas and particularly when it involves acute experiences.

As I stood in the surgeon’s office looking at the results of my MRI, seeing – in all magnetic clarity – my herniated disc and protruded nucleous, I thought to myself, “THERE is my grief and all the emotions attached to it. It’s all exploded out of the disc rupturing the outer core and settling into my spinal column compressing the root of a nerve. Painful, raw and real.”

While these mind/body theories are controversial, I believe they do have merit and it’s important to address healing from many different perspectives. We are, after all, comprised of mind, body and spirit.

So, healing from loss and healing from physical trauma are interrelated for me. My journey with a wide variety of health conditions has proven this to be true. We are a complex system and not just disparate and unconnected parts.

Part of our system, often over looked, is our spiritual connection to a Higher Power and to each other. Truth is, we are not alone as we journey towards fullness of life and health. We walk with each other and we walk with God.

I’m more and more convinced God walks closely with us especially during times of pain and loss. Time and again, I’ve heard others say this is their experience too. Could this be true for you? I actually had a very odd experience happen to me about a week or two before my disc herniated supporting this notion.

One morning, prior to visiting some friends, I was quietly praying. I’m not one of these people who regularly hears God talking to them or “receives” a word from God in prayer. Mostly God is pretty silent with me. I look at Him, and He looks at me. I’m most dubious when someone tells me God told them this, that or the other thing. Having said that, I am about to tell you such a story.

On this morning, some weeks ago, I heard a folksy locution which said, “Don’t worry. I’ve got your back.” I found this “voice” somewhat strange and so I mentioned it to a friend.

It was strange for three main reasons. First, I haven’t heard such a locution before this moment. Second, my back – to the best of my knowledge – was perfectly well at this time and so I interpreted this message to be a general comment of support. And finally, the voice seemed so casual and light; it certainly wasn’t a Hollywood “God Almighty” kind of voice. All these reasons saw me dismissing this experience and I promptly forgot all about it.

Fast forward two weeks later and I was driving down the road after my orthopedic appointment with the same friend I had mentioned this locution to a few weeks earlier. I said to her, “Do you remember the message I mentioned hearing a few weeks ago?” She replied, “Yes, you said you heard a voice say, ‘Don’t worry. I’ve got your back.’” We both looked at each other incredulously and I said, “Maybe God or my guardian angel is looking out for my back?” My driver and friend smiled and said, “There’s no doubt in my mind that God was looking out for you and your back. In the message, he was giving you consolation in advance.” With some uncertainty, I thought to myself, “Perhaps.” I did, however, have a distinct feeling of peace and experienced an “all is well” kind of feeling.

So, as I continue walking through my grief and enter the second year after my father’s passing, I’m more aware of the relationship between mind, body and spirit. I’ve got both back healing and emotional healing to do. There is much joy in all this – though it does come at a price. And mostly, through it all, I am deeply grateful because I don’t need to worry; healing will unfold and God has my back!

9 thoughts on “Love, Grief, and Healing

  1. Hi Andrew,

    For many reasons I, too, believe in addressing healing from different perspectives. Mind, body, and spirit…it’s all connected.

    It’s a comfort to know that God is there, and He will always have our backs.

    God bless you, my friend!

  2. Dearest Andrew, I have been told that grief is an infuriating process. A roller coaster ride is a very close description to what grief is like. I agree that, every once in awhile, it is good to have someone, hanging on for dear life, right next to you, who knows, truly knows, grief. I had not thought about it from the aspect, that I was actually investing in grief, each time I love someone special to me even more.

    I too, believe that Western medicine has left out the spirit, the soul, the emotions, the intellect, that are all an intrical part of Who We Are. Healing the physical body will obviously help ease the emotional distress that occurs when we get sick or when something happens that’s devastating, like cancer. I know, personally, that healing from emotional grief, can ease the physical aspects of my body as well.

    Losing someone. The Loss. That hole, the gaping wound, that can only be filled by the good Lord, is a wound that He only fills, and eases, a little at a time, because grief is something that has to happen. He designed us that way. Some people think that by not loving anybody, they can avoid grief. But I don’t believe that’s true. I think that each of us have something, or someone, that we love . Even if it’s just some aspect of ourselves, that we’ve taken for granted all of these years, and suddenly lose, and grief is there. Like our health. All of us are investing in grief, in one form or another. Devastating grief, the loss of someone so incredibly special in your life, that’s hard to bear.

    But the Exquisite Joy of knowing someone so well. Sharing life’s ups and downs. Investing in them, doing for them, spending time with them, loving them. That Joy is worth everything.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  3. This is great Andrew! You have a beautiful way of writing. Thank you for sharing your insight. A gift!

  4. Hi Andrew! I’m new at dealing with blogs so was happy to have just stumbled onto your blog. Thank you for being so honest in your sharing! Yes, we never need worry because God has our back. Lord, help me to trust You ever more fully and to thank you for all the ways You coming shining through for me.

    1. Carmen, Thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment! Also, thank you for stumbling onto my blog! I’m hoping to be more regular with blog posting in the next few months. I’m aiming for one or two more posts this year. Please come back and read again!

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