Pinnacle Presbyterian Church

Echoes Blog

Good Grief, Charlie Brown

In his beloved comic strip, “Peanuts,” Charles M. Shultz often has the loveable anti-hero, Charlie Brown, exclaim “Good grief.” For Charlie, this is often an expression of surprise or annoyance, but linguists suggest that “good grief” is a euphemism for “Good God.” We believe in a good God who gives us the gift of grief and mourning as a process to heal and achieve a new sense of wholeness.

At Pinnacle Presbyterian Church, we have a grief group that meets once a month to provide a sanctuary where we share from the depths of our hearts. Previously the group had been known as “Loved and Lost,” and last month we changed the name of the group to “Good Grief.” We feel this is an important statement about our purpose and meaning. I wanted to extend an invitation to join our group if you feel you would benefit from sharing your loss and feeling support from us.

There are many misconceptions about grief, and I would like to mention a few.

Grief and Mourning are the same thing. Grief is what we feel on the inside. Mourning is the expression of those thoughts and feelings. We all grieve when we experience a significant loss, and if we are to heal, we also mourn.

We only grieve and mourn a specific loss. When someone we love dies, we not only mourn the loss of the physical presence of that person, but we also mourn other losses caused by the death, such as loss of security, loss of meaning in our lives, loss of companionship, loss of part of who we are, etc..

We only experience grief and mourning when someone dies. Our hearts are capable of many kinds of attachments, and sometimes we grieve losses other than the death of a human. We can also feel great loss over the death of a pet, loss of a job, a good friend moving away, a house fire or flood, moving into an Assisted Living, etc..

Grief is an emotional response. Grief affects our whole being: physically, cognitively, socially and spiritually.

Grief and mourning progress in predictable, orderly stages. Grief is not predictable and it is not orderly. Grief can occur in a wave-like non-sequential fashion. We can feel out of control.

“Grief Work” should be done at home and in private. It is impossible to turn emotions off and on or to regulate them to home. We need to find ways to support grief and to offer comfort and encouragement to one another. Our church can provide such a community.

When grief and mourning are finally reconciled, they never come up again. Grief never truly ends. The idea of “closure” is a myth. We will always experience aspects of our losses, and we will experience “griefbursts” now and then for the rest of our lives.

As Snoopy and Woodstock suggest, “Keep looking up...that's the secret of life.” I might add that we keep looking for our “Good God” in the midst of our grief.


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