What do you do when unbearable grief comes upon you?
The Italian theologian, Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274), is still celebrated today even by the non-religious as one of the most brilliant minds in Western thought, especially in natural theology and philosophy. He knew that man was NOT just a spirit trapped in a body/shell, but that body and soul were integral dimensions of the whole human person.
He also knew that what affected the soul affected the body . . . and vice versa.
The deep and profound thinker has given us an equally simple but profound path to navigating through grief in his “Five Remedies for Sorrow.” They work . . . and you may be surprised at the No. 1 remedy.
A new book, a cute blouse, a cold beer. Man is both body and soul and God has given us appropriate pleasure as a gift. A spoonful of sugar helps the bitterness of sorrow; a spoonful being the key. What would cheer you up just a bit right now? It’s okay to feel better.
We don’t grieve well in our culture, stuffing and minimizing our natural sorrows. Just as we have rituals for celebration, we need rituals for cleansing, purification, and sorrow. Listen to music; go into the night and wail; take a long walk and cry. Sit on a hillside with the Lord.
SHARE WITH A TRUSTED FRIEND
The Lord told us to take up his yoke (see Matt 11:29), meaning he will carry this heavy load with us. He is your “first Friend,” so share with him in prayer. Then, seek out one or two friends who will not judge you nor encourage you into any type of sinful response. Unload, question, laugh, cry, process, and receive their love. Careful: talking with too many will keep the wound open and festering and may invite conflicting and confusing input.
This is where the real work of grief is: taking the time to ask yourself what happened and why. Being willing to be honest and to check your thoughts and emotions against reality and all that the Lord has told us. Get help from a professional with this important interior work or you will stay stuck.
HAVE A HOT BATH AND A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
Thomas Aquinas realized we are an integration of body and soul, not a spirit stuck in a shell. Whole-person healing involves all of us; our minds and hearts need rest and so does our body. The cleansing and release that come with bathing and sleeping well open the door for the same in our minds and hearts. Repeat as necessary.
Share these in conversation, and, as I always say, teach them to your children!