One of the sayings I associate with the “Peanuts” comic strip character, Charlie Brown, is “good grief.” It is usually in reaction to some negative experience or situation. From time to time I hear other people saying, “Oh, good grief.”
It sounds like a contradiction in terms. Is grief ever really good? Or is that just one of those things people say when they can’t think of something else to say? I dare say that most people would not say that grief is good because we normally grieve in response or reaction to some negative situation or experience in our lives. Some grieve over a loss of innocence or because of some wrong done to them. Some grieve over the loss of some treasured thing. Others grieve because they have failed or lost a job or a position which was important to them.
I heard on the radio of a grief support group for people who have lost pets. There are many reasons why people grieve. Surely no experience of grief, however, goes deeper and usually lasts longer than the death of a loved one. While each of the experiences can cause pain and suffering to some greater or lesser degree which we would hesitate to call good, there is a sense in which there are some things which are good about grief.
“How can that be?” you may ask. These are some of the deepest wounds one can experience, going deeper at times than physical pain; and if not handled properly, can lead to depression. Let me suggest two reasons why I believe grief can be good if it is handled in these ways.
The first reason is what grief says about you as a person. Why do you grieve? Do you grieve over things which have no meaning or value to you? Do you grieve over conditions you know you can not change or control? Do you grieve over persons, and their conditions, whom you do not know or who seem remote from you? You may, but usually it is a passing feeling and it does not go very deep.
To be able to grieve, then, means that you are able to love, to feel deeply, to value and to hurt! It means you are alive to yourself and your feelings, but also to the feelings of others. Isn’t that good? Would you want to change that; to be an unfeeling, uncaring, unloving person in order not to feel the grief? I doubt it. I don’t think I have ever known a person who really wanted to be numb to life, to be a kind of walking dead. If not, then grief and the accompanying pain and tears are a part of the price for being able to feel the value, to love and to be alive to yourself and others.