Tag Archives: Grief

3 Grief/Pain Poems by Emily Dickinson


After Great Pain a Formal Feeling Comes by Emily Dickinson

After great pain a formal feeling comes–
The nerves sit ceremonious like tombs;
The stiff Heart questions–was it He that bore?
And yesterday–or centuries before?

The feet, mechanical, go round
A wooden way
Of ground, or air, or ought,
Regardless grown,
A quartz contentment, like a stone.

This is the hour of lead
Remembered if outlived,
As freezing persons recollect the snow–
First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.

Pain Has an Element of Blank by Emily Dickinson

Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there was
A time when it was not.It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.

I Can Wade Grief by Emily Dickinson

I can wade Grief

Whole Pools of it—

I’m used to that—
But the least push of Joy
Breaks up my feet—
And I tip—drunken—
Let no Pebble—smile—
‘Twas the New Liquor—
That was all!

Power is only Pain—
Stranded, thro’ Discipline,
Till Weights—will hang—
Give Balm—to Giants—
And they’ll wilt, like Men—
Give Himmaleh—
They’ll Carry—Him!

Complete These Sentences: “Grief Recovery Is . . .” “Grief Recovery Means . . .”


Product DetailsThe Grief Recovery Handbook by John W. James and Russell Friedman has many helpful ideas about grief.

Below are some that are most meaningful to me.

Recovery is (James, 6-7)   . . .

  • Acknowledging that it is perfectly all right to feel sad from time to time and to talk about those feelings no matter how those around you react.
  • Being able to enjoy fond memories without having them initiate painful feelings of regret or remorse.
  • Being able to forgive others when they say or do things that you know are based on their lack of knowledge about grief.
  • Finding new meaning for living without the fear of being hurt again.
  • One day realizing that your ability to talk about the loss you’ve experienced is indeed normal and healthy.

Recovery means (James, 6-7, 41)  . . . 

  • Acquiring the skills that you should have been taught in childhood.
  • Claiming your circumstances instead of circumstances claiming you and your happiness.
  • Discovering and completing what was unfinished for you in your unique relationship.

Recovery “is not a one-time arrival at a set destination. It’s an ongoing process” (Wright, 68). Nor will life ever get back to normal. Life will be different because of the loss.

When we go through any significant grief experience we come out of it as different people. Depending upon the way we responded to this event we are either stronger people than we were before or weaker-either healthier in spirit or sicker.” (Westberg, 61)

 The grieving person will develop a new normal. As we shepherd our flock and/or support our family and friends we can help them develop a new normal that is healthy for their mind, body and spirit.

Let’s Talk About It

  1. How did you complete the sentences: “Grief recovery is . . .” Grief recovery means . . .”
  2. Do any of these points make an impact? Why?
  3. What skill(s) do you need to learn now that you didn’t learn in childhood?
  4. What recovery do you need/want to make?
  5. How can you support someone in their grief recovery process?
  6. How would you like someone to support you?

Works Cited

  • James, John W and Russell Friedman. The Grief Recovery Handbook. New York: HarperPerennial, 1999.          
  • Westberg, Granger E. Good Grief. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997.                                                                                                               
  • Wright, H. Norman.  Experiencing Grief. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2004.

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When to Refer a Grieving Person to a Professional Counselor


352066_girl_on_the_phoneIt’s time to get a professional counselor involved when it looks like the person has: major depression, major anxiety, complicated grief,  and/or post traumatic stress.

These are some of the symptoms to look out for:

  • Characteristics of mourning that do not appear to change at all over a period of months.
  • Expression of suicidal intent.
  • Inability to be by themselves at any time.
  • Inability to care for self.
  • Pattern of alcohol/drug abuse and/or dependence.
  • Physical harm to self or others.
  • Psychotic States.
  • Severe depression.
  • Uncontrollable phobias.
  • Uncontrollable rage.

If you or someone you know is expereincing some of these symptoms, please call a counselor today. Help is available. You don’t have to struggle with the pain all alone. It can get better.


Related Posts

  • Grief Can Become Stuck
  • 4 Differences Between Depression & Grief
  • 10 Recommendations for the Mourner
  • 5 Ways to Help a Grieving Friend
  • Don’t Say These 13 Things to a Grieving Person
  • Grief Affects Behaviors, Feelings, Thoughts (including memory) & Body
  • It’s Important to Grieve the Little Losses Too
  • Mourning is a Choice
  • Every Loss Can Bring Grief
  • Sometimes Nothing is the Best Thing to Say
  • Chronic Pain Brings Losses to Grieve
  • 4 Ways Grief Has Changed My Beliefs
  • This Grief Attitude Annoys Me
  • Loss Leads to Depression
  • Time to Pray Away Love
  • Dozen Ideas to Move Past the Blahs
  • Live Well Today
  • 4 Differences Between Depression and Grief


    717652_generation_overviewSometimes when grief is not expressed well, it turns into depression. Depression shares common features with grief.  Misdiagnosis can result in overlooking depression when it is present and inappropriately treating grief.

    The following graph lists 4 differences between depression & grief. 

      Depression Grief
    Moods Moods & feelings are static. Moods & feelings are experienced in waves.
    Sadness Sad mood about everything. Sadness is centered on loss.
    Intensity Consistent sense of depletion. Feelings diminish in intensity over time.
    Self-Image Sense of worthlessness and disturbed self-image. Healthy self-image.


    Related Posts

  • 10 Recommendations for the Mourner
  • 5 Ways to Help a Grieving Friend
  • Don’t Say These 13 Things to a Grieving Person
  • Grief Affects Behaviors, Feelings, Thoughts (including memory) & Body
  • It’s Important to Grieve the Little Losses Too
  • Mourning is a Choice
  • Every Loss Can Bring Grief
  • Sometimes Nothing is the Best Thing to Say
  • Chronic Pain Brings Losses to Grieve
  • 4 Ways Grief Has Changed My Beliefs
  • This Grief Attitude Annoys Me
  • Loss Leads to Depression
  • Time to Pray Away Love
  • Dozen Ideas to Move Past the Blahs
  • Live Well Today
  • Every Loss Can Bring Grief


    425342_tired_lost_sportmanGrief is the physical, emotional, somatic, cognitive and spiritual response to actual or threatened loss of a person, thing or place to which we are emotionally attached. We grieve because we are biologically willed to attach.” By John Bowlby, Father of Attachment Theory

     A lot of the material (in books and on the Internet) deals with grief as associated with death. However, grief can result from any loss. “Every loss brings pain and disruption of life” (Wright, iv). “Loss refers to a breaking of a bond you’ve formed with a significant person, place, thing, or idea (including beliefs) in your life” (Harvey, 10). Simply put, loss changes the way things have been and we miss that. Very deeply at times.

    Some traditional losses are as follows:

    • Death Due to Suicide or Murder
    • Death of a Family Member, Friend, Co-Worker or Pet
    • Death of a Former Spouse
    • Divorce (impacts more than just the people getting divorced)
    • Doing Poorly at School or Work
    • Employment Change through Being Laid off or Fired
    • Empty Nest
    • End of Addictions
    • Financial Changes (positive or negative}
    • Graduation
    • Holidays
    • Home/Possessions Lost Through Natural Disaster, Vandalism, Foreclosure
    • Infertility
    • Legal Problems
    • Major Health Changes (including chronic illness)
    • Marriage
    • Miscarriage and Stillbirth
    • Moving
    • Near Death Experience
    • Harm Through Abuse, Rape, Accident (loss of safety and loss of control of one’s body)
    • Retirement
    • Starting School
    • Status Change
    • Trust (loss of) – with a parent and other relationships including God
    • Unfaithful Spouse

    The more bonds that are broken and the deeper the bonds are, the deeper the grief tends to be.“The amount of work your grief requires will depend on your life experiences, the type of loss, and whatever else you have on your plate at that time” (Schwiebert, 47).

    Several other factors will also affect mourning.

    • Your familial and cultural background will dictate what behaviors are expected, okayed and shunned. These behaviors may or may not move the bereaved forward to recovery.
    • Additionally, the number of losses you’ve had, your age, and how much support you received in the past and present help determine the quality of grieving you’ll go through.

    But having said this, grief recovery is a very individual journey. What devastates one person hardly fazes another. And that’s okay. What’s important is to  . . . feel the feelings . . . talk about the loss . . . practice faith . . . and patiently wait for the wound in your heart to heal as and because you’ve taken steps to grieve well.

    Action Steps.

    1. Go through the above loss list. What losses can you identify with? Which ones have you/have you not fully grieved? Are you willing to learn how to grieve those still on the list?
    2. Look at your familial and cultural beliefs regarding grief and loss. Which beliefs are/aren’t helpful? Can you change one of the unhelpful beliefs/actions?
    3. Write down your support people – those who love you and like you. Those who listen without judgement and can keep your private stuff private. Have you talked to them about your griefs? Losses? Why or why not?
    4. How can you feel (instead of bottling up and ignoring the pain) the grief for one loss today? Journal, paint, read (see the below works cited), talk, or cry are some options. Sometimes it is helpful to get professional help.
    5. Look for a local grief support group.
    6. What have I left off this list?

    Works Cited

    Harvey, Greg. Grieving for Dummies.  Hoboken: Wiley Publishing, 2007.

    Schwiebert, Pat and Chuck DeKlyen.Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss.  Portland: Grief Watch, 2005.

    Wright, H. Norman.  Experiencing Grief. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2004.

    Sometimes Nothing is the Best Thing to Say to a Grieving Person


    781459_earWhen we have a loss we need to grieve. We need to let it out or else it stays inside causing turmoil. We can help someone with their grief  just by sitting quietly with them. No words of advice. . . No answers. . . No cheering them up.

    That’s what Job’s friends (in the Bible) initially did. They sat with Job saying nothing. That was their greatest gift to him. Then they started talking and said all kinds of nonsense.

     “Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent” (Proverbs 17:28; NLT).

    I can so relate. Many times I’ve spoken and said THE wrong thing. I was nervous, confused, living in my own pain. The words were not the result of a reasoned conversation in my head. They spilled out of my brain like cereal out of a newly opened box into a bowlful of milk.

    Action Step . . .  So for today just listen. No matter the topic. No matter who’s speaking. Listen without an agenda. See what you discover. You are giving the speaker a gift of your attention. Notice how you feel doing this.  What did you discover about the speaker? Yourself?

    If  you are the one receiving the “gift of attention,” how does it feel to be able to speak without someone making commentary?

    Go here to listen to Rob Bell’s take on grieving and sitting shiva  (Judaic mourning practice).

    Out of the blue idea. Go here for directions to make a cereal journal. Looks like a cool idea. Live in my neck of the woods and want to make one? LMK and I’ll come over. Crafting with someone else is so much fun.

    Related Posts

    Chronic Pain Brings Losses That Need Grieving


    956734_desolationThose with chronic pain/illness have much to grieve. Often this is a topic that is not discussed very often.

    What is grief all about? Grieving is a disorderly process, unpredictable in appearance and manifestations. It is hard work and the steps to and the time it takes to processing it are individual for each woman. It differs in expression, intensity, and time.

    Because our society hasn’t (as a whole) taught us about the grief process . . .

    • its wide array of feelings,
    • its impact on our behaviors and body,
    • and the fact that grieving is normal . . .

     . . . many women struggle needlessly and far longer than necessary.

    People are also afraid of the intense feelings of others. So they change the subject, minimize the feelings and intellectualize the situation. This is done by saying something that appeals to the intellect instead of the emotions.

    To grieve well, a woman in pain needs to first acknowledge those losses. Some of these losses could include . . .

    • The changed nature of relationships – roles (at home, work, social settings) are now different for the woman in pain. “I think I alienated a lot of people at work … because I was out sick so much …. and others [had to] cover for me” (LS).  Sometimes friendships are lost.
    • Loss of present income and/or loss of future earning potential.
    • Loss of youth, healthy body functions and physical abilities, including clear thinking and use of intellect.
    • Spontaneity – Living with chronic pain is hard work and typically everything needs to be planned out in order to manage the symptoms.
    • Loss of independence.
    • Retirement dreams often must be changed, put on hold or deleted.
    • Pleasure – Available time and effort are spent on coping so that fun is often neglected.
    • Satisfying Sexual life – Low energy level and interest contribute to this loss. Also the fear of pain can contribute to lack of sexual intimacy.
    • Positive future plans – often these are viewed with fear, when time is even given to thinking about the future.
    • Self esteem.
    • Identity.

    Action Steps:

    1. What is a loss you need to acknowledge?
    2. How can this information help you be a better griever?
    3. What is one thing you can do to help a woman in chronic pain grieve a little bit better? 
    4. Use the above loss list as a prayer guide.

    “Without question [there have been losses associated with my chronic pain]. I am not the woman I once was, I lack the stamina & strength I once had….check that…it is a DIFFERENT strength & stamina.” CS

    Related Articles

  • Things to Do/Not Do For Someone in Chronic Pain
  • Words to Say/Not Say to Someone with Chronic Pain 
  • One Reason Why People Ignore Those with Chronic Pain
  • 1 out of 3 People Suffer from Chronic Pain
  • 4 Differences Between Acute & Chronic Pain   
  • Looking Fine & Still in Chronic Distress
  • Feelings & Thoughts Affected by Chronic Pain
  • 4 Ways Grief Has Changed My Beliefs
  • Loss Leads to Depression
  • This Grief Attitude Annoys Me
  • Dozen Ideas to Move Past the Blah’s