I was invited to speak to a group called The Compassionate Friends in Lawton last week. This is a secular group for bereaved parents and grandparents.
Topic: How to Get Rid of the Dark Thoughts
1. Acknowledge what we are feeling and thinking, which includes honestly identifying what we’re feeling (anger, fear, resentment, regret, sadness, etc) and assessing if our thoughts are true or valid. Some dark thoughts are true; others are lies we must not embrace.
2. Feel it. Go through the pain. Experience what you are feeling. We can learn to deal with our emotions, but we can’t stuff them or pretend they aren’t real.
3. Realize you can’t park there. If my goal is healing, peace, and joy…I can’t park in the depths of despair, resentment, or regret. I must move forward in my grief journey, step by step, one day at a time. Moving forward does not mean we forget or leave behind those we love. We move through our grief; we never completely get over the loss of someone we love.
4. Take steps to change your dark thoughts. We can’t just make ourselves stop thinking or remembering something. We must choose to think of other things. Making a list of good things to think about before the dark thoughts come gives you a pool from which to draw. Practicing thinking of what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy helps gratitude become a habit!
We went through an exercise of writing:
- One thing I’m grateful for in my loved one’s life.
- One thing I’m grateful for in my loved one’s death. (Like all the friends who helped us that week.)
- One thing I’m grateful for since my loved one’s death.
Then I asked for volunteers to share their lists.
Because what’s shared in a grief group stays in a grief group, I won’t share what participants said, but I can tell you at least one parent had their eyes open to a new way of thinking. The idea of being grateful for what we had and what we still have instead of resenting and being constantly upset by what we have lost was completely new to her. I saw a transformation in her that night.
This is why I write. This is why I post in my blog. This is why we are going to begin speaking together on God’s healing in grief! Through me, God brought a hurting, grieving mom one huge step closer to healing that night. She’s not arrived yet, but she’s no longer parked in that dark place and she’s facing the right direction.
Glory to God in the highest!