“Good grief!” was a phrase I heard a lot growing up in the 1960’s. The Peanuts cartoon had just hit the scene and “Good grief, Charlie Brown” became their signature line. It was also a phrase my parents used frequently as it was an idiom of the times.
As I’ve gotten older and experienced a fair amount of grief, especially when dealing with the death of loved ones, I’ve wondered how someone came up with putting those two words together. To most of us there is absolutely nothing “good” about grief. In fact grief is usually something we try to avoid because we think it’s bad. After all, grief hurts…it makes your heart hurt. Grief sucks…it literally sucks your energy. Grief robs…it robs you of your joy. Grief blinds…it blinds you from seeing beauty right in front of you.
Now, having said that is there another way to look at grief? I’ve been listening to some Abraham-Hicks lately and it’s really helped me shift my perspective on many aspects of life. One of the main teachings of Abraham-Hicks is to always strive to have the most positive feeling you can have at any point in your life no matter the circumstances. They also teach that it is in the contrast of noticing and experiencing what we don’t want that helps us get a clearer picture of what we do want, what we do love, what brings us joy and how far we’ve come.
So let’s apply their teaching to our experience of grief.
To start with, think about all the love and support grief brings out in family and friends as you mourn together a loved one. Grief brings people together. Showing and sharing love is good. Right? How about the fact that by feeling grief you realize what that person really meant to you. If they didn’t impact your life for the better, if you hadn’t grown from the relationship and weren’t going to miss all the future growth you were hoping to experience then you wouldn’t feel so much grief. Grief then helps you realize how much you’ve grown and changed. Recognizing growth and change is good, right? How about all the memories you recall when someone passes away and you remember and appreciate all the good times you had together. The grief is just showing you the contrast, the flip side, to all the joyful times the relationship gave you. Appreciation and feeling joy are good, aren’t they? Grieving brings out the tears and the release of negative emotional energy. They say tears are healing. Healing and releasing negative energy is good, right? Grief is a very present moment experience as the past and future come crashing down on you in the moment of NOW. It forces you to be present in your body as there is no escaping your feelings. Being present in the moment is good, right?
Can you imagine living a life without ever experiencing grief? How utterly numb we would feel. It would be like walking around with Novocaine running through our veins preventing us from feeling any pain. So maybe grief does have a “good” side after all. Grief can be thought of as a way to feel alive. To know joy because of the grief we experience when someone has been taken away. It provides a channel, an opportunity if you will, to release the pain and sorrow we feel not just about the recent loss but it also helps us release other similar pain and sorrow that we might have stored up.
So if you’re in the middle of period of grieving, don’t despair. Instead, I encourage you to focus on the good side of grief – the love and support you’ve received, the growth and pleasure that person brought you, the memories you will always have to cherish, and the healing it brings when you surrender to it.
Maybe there was more truth in the Peanuts cartoon than we thought. From this day forward you can never hear the words “good grief” again without a nod and a smile that reminds you that grief is good after all.