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We've Got to Go Through It

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a children’s picture book written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. In the story, a dad gathers his children and they begin to hunt for a bear. Their hunt is not an easy one and they encounter many obstacles, long grass, a cold river, thick oozy mud, a dark forest, swirling whirling snow and a dark cave. When faced with each difficult situation their mantra became, “We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh no! We’ve got to go through it”. And so, they do, they make their way through it. It’s the only way to the other side.

What does a children’s picture book, published in 1989, have to do with grief? Grief, like the tricky terrain in the book, cannot be avoided. The only way to the other side is through it. The only way to finding peace is to live through the grief. You cannot get over it by burying it deep inside. You cannot go under it by ignoring its presence. You acknowledge it, name it by calling it grief and go through it.

In the book, the dad and his three children swishy swashed through tall grass, splashed sploshed through the cold river, squelch squerched through oozy mud, stumble tripped through the dark forest, hoo woooed through the snow storm and tiptoed through a dark gloomy cave.

The emotions of grief change daily, even hourly. They may feel as if you are lumbering, exhausted, through tall think grass, barely able to put one foot in front of the other. You may feel as though you are flailing and splashing through the waves and currents of a raging river of despair, or getting bogged down in the thick mud of never-ending lists of estate details. The brutal hours of being alone may feel like a deep dark forest or a blinding blizzard. Maybe you feel you are in that dark gloomy cave and it is so dark there seems to be no way out. This is grief.

“This is grief’s most piercing message: there is no way around-the only way is through.”. ( Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, PhD, Grieving Is Loving, Wisdom Publications 2020, p.35).

The word emotion comes from a Latin word, movere, which means- to move through and emovere-to move out. The key here is move. Emotions are energy moving through your body, originating in neurons and hormones. This energy is experienced by you as a feeling. The feeling is personal and is influenced by things like, environment, heritage, health and diet, just to name a few. Energy is never stagnant and neither are your emotions. They are always moving and shifting, swiftly or subtly, but they move.

Grief and all the emotions must be experienced. Marc Brackett (Permission to Feel, Celadon Books, 2019) offers this guidance on experiencing feelings. 1- Give yourself permission to feel all of the feelings you have. We were created as emotional beings. 2-Acknowledge the fact that there is no shame in expressing emotions. Emotions are a natural part of being human and need to be expressed. 3- There is no need to fix or hide what you feel. 4-Being silent makes it impossible for others to know or understand you. By being silent you are denying the truth of who you are.

You may be tempted to ignore your feelings or pretend they don’t exist. Masking your feelings takes tremendous energy away from actually experiencing your feelings. Fighting your true feelings can be exhausting. Plus, the feelings that you are hiding from don’t go away. They will resurface, in time, to be even more potent than they are now. If ignored long enough they morph into other areas that cause physical ailments or disease.

Rejecting your true feelings will be a temptation. However, become articulate at describing your feelings. The more details you use when you name the feeling, the more relief you will gain. Only you will be able to choose how you face them; feel them and foster truthfulness with yourself and others.

“We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh no! We’ve got to go through it.”. Even though grief will never leave, it changes, is softens, it becomes a part of us and it becomes a quiet companion. The feelings of grief become the energy that gives us a different outlook on life. We’ve got to go through it and how we choose to work with the energy is how we do it. This is Grief in Life.


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