Grief Makes Us Or Breaks Us

Listen to this obituary

Stephanie Ericsson wrote an interesting essay titled “The Ways We Lie” and she talks about loss. “Grief is a tidal wave that overtakes you, smashes down upon you with an unimaginable force, sweeps you up into its darkness, where you tumble and crash against undefinable surfaces, only to be thrown out on an unknown beach, bruised, reshaped, and unwittingly better for the wear… Grief will make a new person out of you if it doesn’t kill you in the making.”

I’ve long said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger!” I don’t know about you — but I’m strong enough! (Amen, walls?)

So comes the title of this blog: Grief Makes Us Or Breaks Us. We are often defined by how we respond to what happens to us! In fact, I believe I can almost say that we ARE defined (not just “often” defined) by what happens to us!

 If you like to read, here’s my latest favorite book that I’ll draw from our next few blogs: Traveling through Grief: Learning To Live Again After The Death Of A Loved One by Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge and Robert C. De Vries | 2006 

There are five tasks that every successful griever must work through, check off the list, and then revisit as necessary…

1. First, you need to accept the new reality that your loved one has died and is unable to return. This task is particularly hard for those who may not have been able to say goodbye, be present for the funeral, and hear all the good things said in the hug line at the visitation.

2. Second, you need to express all your emotions associated with death. These will vary from person to person but keeping them bottled up is detrimental to the grief journey one hundred percent of the time.

3. Third, you need to sort through and identify the memories of your loved one and find a place to store them in your mind so you can begin to move on in your mind. These memories will need to be revisited and recalled later and may involve any of the five senses, and a person, place, or thing that may trigger them.

4. Identify who you are independent of your deceased loved one. You may have acquired a new label as some may now refer to you as an orphan, widowed or single person and you don’t know how to wear that designation.

5. Begin to reinvest in your life in a way that is consistent with your personal preferences, identity, interests, and desires. Be slow to allow others to judge your decisions on a purely subjective basis. You don’t live your life for their approval.

God created us to have special relationships in our lives, and along with the decision to love someone comes the risk of losing that opportunity. Use those opportunities today. The sand is running through the hourglass.

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Doug Greenway

These blog articles are written by the retired minister and former educator and counselor, Doug Greenway. He'd love to hear from you with your comments, questions, or suggestions for future topics. You may reach Doug at

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