TWSC Series: Broken but Beautiful – Grief

Photo: Justus Nandwa

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…” Isaiah 53:3a (KJV)

Earlier this year, an income-generating door closed on me. This came as a blow because I didn’t expect it. I was overwhelmed emotionally, and I went into a crisis. I could not lift myself up to plan or move forward. I felt crippled and I began blaming myself for the state that I was in and felt like a failure. All the losses I had experienced in the past were awakened. It felt as though I was experiencing this current loss because of my past (that was the lie that I believed).

I didn’t know that I was grieving until I went for a therapy session. The therapist helped me understand how grief gets entangled sometimes. When we have unprocessed griefs, they pile up every time we experience a loss. No matter how insignificant the loss may appear to others, it triggers the unprocessed losses, and it becomes overwhelming, and it can get unbearable sometimes.

Grief is complicated. It is a deep, dark, heavy, inexpressible emotion. We can perceive it by a sharp pain in the heart and unexpected sighs, groans and cries that we cannot avoid. Every single loss we experience in life is registered in our brains and needs time, safety, and compassion to be grieved. Grieving is a necessary process in life. John Bradshaw puts it well in his book The Shame That Binds,“Grief is the process that finishes things. The end of grief work is to be born again. So, to live well is to grieve well.”

As survivors of child sexual abuse and assault, we have a lot to grieve for. We grieve the violation, loss of power, loss of relationships, loss of trust, sense of peace, dreams for the relationship, investments in the lost relationships, lost love. We grieve who we were before the offense, opportunity lost while healing, our control, boundaries violated, mental illness, time, energy, and money spent on healing trauma.

We cannot heal all these losses in one therapy session or in one grieving season. We are to acknowledge each loss and state clearly how the loss is affecting us. We are to give ourselves permission to cry naturally and accept that it may never come back. Then ask God for wisdom on how to move on from there. Unless we come to the place of acceptance, it will be hard to transition in the process. This process will not take a day, a week, or a month to clear; it is unpredictable, and you may need a safe person to walk with you.

Grief visits with other emotions too. It comes with feelings of anger, hurt, guilt, regret, disappointment, abandonment, rejection, sadness, and worry. And this may feel uncomfortable to you. Acknowledging that you are grieving and showing compassion to your hurting self will make it bearable.

The purpose for grief is to move us through to a place of healing rather than to keep us bound to the things that continue to destroy us.

We are never alone in the grieving process. Our Creator:

  • Is a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).
  • Is touched with the feelings of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15).
  • Assures us that every tear we cry is precious to God, and He has promised to dry every tear we cry (Revelation 21:4).
  • Cares and is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18)

The major obstacle that kept me from grieving was shame. This led to self-hate and self-blame until the therapist challenged me to begin caring for myself as I would care for the children I serve. We cannot show compassion to ourselves if we hate ourselves. Acknowledge that you were violated, but it wasn’t your fault. You are worthy of love, kindness, and compassion.

I performed a mental ritual that helped me accept the loss of a friendship that I may never get back. I wrote down the things I missed from the friendship, stated objectives that led to the disconnect, identified lessons learnt and wrote an undelivered goodbye letter. Then I imagined buying a coffin, attended the funeral service, dressed for the occasion, bought flowers, and attended the burial. I imagined placing lots of flowers on the grave and took a deep breath, prayed, and felt relieved of the heavy burden of wishing for the ideal friendship. I ended that process with a cool glass of ginger-sugarcane juice.

Since then, I have not had trouble over that loss. I stopped craving a mutual closure conversation. And when I get triggered, I acknowledge the pain and remind myself that we finished that matter and it’s resting with the Lord.

Dear survivor, it is time to reclaim our losses. When we allow ourselves to go through the natural phase of grieving, then we will take back:

  • Power to say NO.
  • Courage to speak for ourselves.
  • Courage to laugh hard no matter what.
  • Courage to honor and validate our feelings.
  • Power to choose and decide.
  • Power to dream and create.
  • Freedom to choose, embrace and offer love
  • Freedom to enjoy simple pleasures.
  • Freedom to choose life, even when death feels freeing.

Choose to nurture and nourish yourself today because self-care means self-responsibility. And when you fall back, remember to look up to God, cry for help and press on.

Remember, God meets us where we are and not where we pretend or wish to be.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Mathew 5:4 (NKJV)

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