A note from Kelly King: As a leader you might often find yourself in a conversation with another woman who is dealing with grief. But how often do you contemplate your own losses and continue to process those losses? Do you know how to name your pain? This is not an easy article for me because I know there are things I must face in my own life. But if I’m going to be a leader who helps others, I must come face to face with my own pain. If this is you, be encouraged today by Kaye Hurta’s article.
Whenever I have the privilege of hearing the story of someone who is hurting, I am listening for four things. First, I’m listening to her “presenting problem” or her perception of what is causing her pain. Second I’m listening for what she is not saying from her story especially as it relates to her family of origin. Third I’m listening for evidence of past or present trauma. And fourth I am listening for where she has experienced loss. Unresolved grief does not disappear from the landscape of our souls. It hemorrhages beneath the surface causing a wide array of emotional pain.
Losses come in all shapes and sizes, and everyone has experienced loss of some kind.
Whether you are facing a loss of your own or helping someone navigate theirs, a vital part of healthy grieving is being able to name your loss. What does it mean to “name” your loss?
Let me give you an example:
Twenty-six years ago, my mom died. Is that naming my loss? No. I have stated a reality or a truth, but I have not unpacked and named the many layers of loss found in those three words, “My mom died.” To be able to authentically grieve her loss to my life in a healthy way, I must name the multilayered impact to my soul and grieve each one individually.
Here is an example of how I name that loss. When my mom died, I lost:
- The influence of an important woman in my life
- Someone who is for me no matter what
- The opportunity to make some things right
- The dreams of my children knowing her
- The dreams of her knowing my children, and even knowing I had children
- The privilege of being an adult influence in her life
- Her presence in family traditions and milestone moments
- Talking to someone who knows me and loves me without condition
- Verbal family history
- A close friend
- Loss of a sounding board/wisdom for life’s struggles
- A companion
It has been twenty-six years since my mom died, and as I write those things the tears well up in my eyes. Is that because I haven’t grieved the loss? No, it’s because you never get over a loss, you get through it.
As a leader and as a woman who cares for other women, may I challenge you in an area? When you have time to be still, look over the variety of losses in your own life. Write them down individually and then really name the losses of each one. Pray over that list and pay attention to the feelings, emotions, and story that stirs or is triggered in your heart and mind. Ask yourself honestly if you have or are grieving your losses in a healthy way. If you have multiple losses in your life, please don’t do this all in one sitting. Wherever you are in your own grief journey, I invite you to give yourself space and grace. Be curious about your emotions and kind with yourself when they surface. If you have a trusted friend, talk through this challenge with them.
If necessary, gift yourself a few sessions with a good counselor. I do this often.
We are better together; we are healthier together! I am praying for you.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.