Later this month, Donna Meredith Dixon will be starting a series on forgiveness (sometimes seen by wives/partners of sex addicts as "the other 'f' word"). In Beyond Betrayal I make the point that grieving is a necessary precursor to forgiving, so for the next couple of weeks I'd like to re-share some thoughts on grieving.
Grieving as Self-Care
This week in our support group we were looking at the issue of self-care. After we had discussed our favorite self-care techniques (baths, exercise, time at a local cafe) there was a silence. Somehow it all felt a little too light and fluffy considering where some of our hearts were.
Then I suggested, time spent curled up in a ball in bed with a big towel to blow our noses on. The heads started nodding. Yes... sometimes the best self-care is making a time and place to express our overwhelming sorrow.
At times we may be tempted to try and by-pass the grieving process and get right to the forgiving. Perhaps we see grieving as self-indulgent and detrimental to the relationship. What I've learned, however, is that forgiveness needs to consider the cost to be deep and healing to the one who has been wounded. I've also seen that my relationship with my husband has ultimately benefitted from my taking the time to grieve (even if it was tough on the relationship initially).
Grief Retreat: Considering the Cost
For those who are ready, you could consider taking a three-day in-home, or away-from-home grief retreat. When I did this, I actually fasted for 24 hours of it, and ate very simply for the other 48. What I didn't want to do is make this a time to indulge in any of my less healthy self-soothing mechanisms (and food can be one of mine). Instead, I wanted to focus on my losses, on the pain of these, and on the Redeemer.
Things one might find helpful on a grief retreat:
- Journaling book (ideally the one we’ve been doing our exercises in)
- Music that helps us focus in on our pain and on God (note: Beyond Betrayal blog posts frequently end with appropriate music)
- A creative medium (Do you paint, knit, play music? Bring your gear to do so)
- A quiet, uninterrupted space, or “minimal interruption space” — we can’t always leave our kids behind, but we can ask for childcare support to maximize our quiet time
- Lots of kleenex
- A healthy comforting object (e.g. blanket, the cat/dog, a favorite sweater)
- A bible or bible app
- Another book that you have found helpful (possibilities: Shattered Soul: Five Pathways to Healing the Spirit after Abuse and Trauma; One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp; Daring Greatly, Brene Brown)
- A copy of the Immanuel Prayer process
- Something that might feel cathartic to smash or destroy; ideally something that isn't going to "cost" anyone in the long run (e.g. after shave bottles; a cast-off item of clothing; old, chipped plates/cups)
- Your best friend’s phone number (or someone from your support group)
On this last point, let your support person know ahead of time what you are doing. Let her know that having a person to process with might be helpful at times. That said, you don’t want to invite someone else to join you on this particular retreat (there will be other retreats that can be about community, and even corporate lamentation). This particular sacred journey needs to happen predominantly between you and God. Do, however, ask others to pray for the success of this retreat.
Next week we'll look a bit more at what helpful things we might do on a grief retreat (you'll notice the list above contains more than kleenex).
Some beautiful choral music for Good Friday, by one of my favorite composers of the middle ages.