Refusal to Grieve
Many problems result from a refusal to grieve. In affair recovery, there is much to grieve. Loss of trust, dreams, respect . . . most of what felt solid and sure.
Yet, we refuse to grieve, because it freakin’ hurts!
Ultimately, facing the pain and sadness as squarely as one can is the quickest way through it.
In his book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen explores the world from the view of the wayward son, the self-righteous older brother and the grace-giving father from Luke 11:15-32. He asks the reader to take an introspective look and honestly expose how he/she is like each character in the story. In the book, Nouwen offers this definition of grief: “Grief is the discipline of the heart that sees the sin of the world and knows itself to be the sorrowful price of freedom without which love cannot bloom.”
Let's go backwards through this quote. Without grief, love cannot bloom. If we refuse to grieve, there are places in one’s soul that cannot experience giving or receiving love. The wound becomes hard like a diamond, trapping the blood and tenderness inside. With grief, love can flourish. In other words, experiencing sadness and pain paves the pathway that expands our capacity for love.
Grief is the sorrowful price of freedom. Our sorrow costs us. Dearly it costs us. That sorrowful price allows us to escape a prison. However, those who refuse to grieve remain trapped in the wounds of the past. This causes these unprocessed wounds to remain fresh chaining us to the past. At some point, we all have to own our stories and the pain and joy that come with them. The worst statement one can utter in affair recovery is "we must never talk about this affair again."
If our sorrow frees us, our avoidance and denial lock us up in solitary confinement.
Grief sees the sin of the world with eyes wide open. This includes our own self-centeredness and the self-centeredness of others. Sin causes pain. Grief moves toward that pain and says, “Tell me more about it.” It takes heroic courage to grieve this way.
Grief is a discipline of the heart. It does take courage to walk into it. It's easier in the short run to bury our souls in alcohol, drugs, busyness at church, the internet, porn, football on TV, our kids, etc. To face it every day, as much as one can, takes discipline and choice when there are 15 trillion ways to numb our souls.
Have courage. Face the truth. Feel the hurt, the anger, the sadness, the rage, the nothing; and eventually - though I can't tell you how long eventually is - at some point, as you pay the sorrowful price of freedom, your wounds will become the soil of verdant growth.
What frightens you about entering the grieving process?
Betrayed and Betrayer: Rescuing your marriage from the affair