Thursday, May 26, 2022

When Grief Turns Toxic


   Grief is a God-given process of acknowledging loss, commemorating love in a respectful way, and then a cycle of learning to carry it, and rebuilding life. I say a "cycle" of learning because it takes a lot of practice and many attempts. You don't wake up one morning and say "I can do this," and then never cry over it again. You do that over and over, and eventually the emotions become manageable and even predictable. But you do not  have to "Grieve forever." 

However, grief can become toxic when the same thoughts circulate through your brain over and over again. It's like the old-time needle on a record player getting stuck in the same groove on the record and cutting it a bit deeper and deeper each time until that one line of music is all we hear. Or like driving repeatedly in the rut of a dirt road, making it deeper and deeper until the car gets stuck. Or like spring rainwater run-off flowing to the lowest path down the precipice and around the hills every year.

Simplistically speaking, the same thing happens to the brain. At first, neuropathways of grief are created when we suffer loss. Then, they heal and grow, creating new and healthy pathways. UNLESS, the thoughts continually travel back over the traumatic grief pathways. When that happens, people get "stuck" in grief, and often in various degrees of PTSD, and definitely need assistance. 

There's a beautiful thing God has created within the human brain, though, and it's called "neuro-plasticity." That means that thought patterns can be trained to heal and grow and recover. There's hope! There's a fascinating webinar on this (although they credit evolution, not God, with this process, but my perspective is that we were created by God and this new scientific research simply reveals the wonderful ability to heal that God created within us). Click here for the link to the page from the American Brain Foundation:  and then scroll to the bottom of that page for the webinar "Healing the Brain After Loss."

Did you know that godly people in the Bible did not always deal with their grief in a good way either? Check out this section of Scripture below. I've highlighted a few parts that show some of the dangers of toxic grief. Please feel free to comment (if you're reading this by email, then click title at the top of this blog post in order to get to the website to comment, please), or email me at if you have questions or are interested in my coaching help for rebuilding life after loss. 

💗 Ferree 

2 Samuel 19:1-7 (NIV)  

David Mourns in a way that demeans his people and might destroy himself

Joab was told, “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” And for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning, because on that day the troops heard it said, “The king is grieving for his son.” The men stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle. The king covered his face and cried aloud, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!”

Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, “Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.”

1 comment:

  1. Hello Carolyn! Thank you so much for checking in on me. Every time I see the date on this blog post---May 26---I am shocked! Where did the summer go? But I am perfectly fine, thanks for asking. I've been wanting to update the format of this blog, and so every time I see it I don't know where to start! I've also been coaching clients about their goals, dreams, and changes in their lives. And I've had some extra writing too. But I promise, after Labor Day this will be more regularly updated. Thanks again for asking. It's nice to be missed, but I do apologize for not leaving an explanation.


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