Good Grief: What Good Is It

“Consider how much more often you suffer from your anger and grief than from those things for which you are angry and grieved.” Marcus Antonius

Emotions are feelings in motion. You can let them move on.

Turner Classic Movies recently showed Tennessee Williams, “A Rose Tattoo.” I watched as much as I could stand. The main character grieved for her dead husband for three years! She manufactured misery every day for herself and everyone around her.

She stewed in her own juice. That’s a neat folk expression for hanging on to anger. Have you ever had trouble letting go of anger or grief?

What does hanging on to either feeling do for us? In the case of grief, we may think we’re getting the approval of others by staying miserable.

Hanging on to anger may give us a false feeling of vitality or control. Letting go of either one is really quite simple. Picture your anger as a raging fire in your outdoor barbecue and then close the cover.

Picture your grief as a dripping faucet and then turn it off. Sure, it will come back each time you long for whomever or whatever you have lost, but you can just turn off the faucet again.

I grieved off and on for six months for my father after he died. I never knew when the feeling would strike me to tears, embarrassing me. Finally, I turned off the faucet and celebrated his life.

I didn’t know at the time that I was feeling sorry for myself, giving myself a reason to be sad in order to get sympathetic approval of myself from myself.

We all have three basic needs: security, approval, and control.

Will you stop now and consider your own examples? When did you last hang on to anger? What basic need did that satisfy? Security or control? When we are angry we are not afraid. That’s why some people hang onto anger.

When we hang on to grief, wallow in it, we are not afraid either. And, we have, or think we have, control over those around us. They do things to console us that they would not do if we weren’t grieving.

We make decisions every day. Good grief, let’s decide to drop feelings of anger and grief as soon as they arrive. If we decide to keep them around, we should ask ourselves if it’s for approval, security, or control.

Have a free day!

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