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Some ideas to consider as you make or begin to make choices about how you want your grief and healing journeys to unfold:

waves of grief


Resistance: The refusal to accept something. The attempt to prevent something by action or argument. The opposition to, the hostility to, the refusal of, the struggle against, or the unwillingness to accept something or become something.

Surrender: To yield to the power or domination of another. The idea of surrender can hold negative connotations and also the implication that surrender is the same as giving up. 

In the context of grief, surrender can take on another meaning. Surrendering to your grief means allowing yourself to experience what you experience in your grieving without judgment, to allow your emotions to be felt and to learn to accept, as you can, the changes in your life. It also means facing and experiencing the realities, difficulties and pain of your grief journey as they happen to you.

Surrender, in this more positive sense also means not fighting against or resisting your grief or your needing to grieve. It suggests that at times, sitting home alone and experiencing the pain of your grief is not necessarily a bad thing, especially in the early parts of your journey. It also suggests that perhaps the type of pain we experience in our grieving is not something we always have to control, avoid or run away from.

Surrender in this way can then become a positive process through which each person can find their own unique way through their grief, when they are ready to do so.

Three possible ways of dealing with our grieving: Hiding our Grief, Hiding from our Grief or Facing and Surrendering to our Grief.

We don’t have to choose just one or another of these possibilities, they are not absolutes. It’s always possible that we may find ourselves doing more than one of them, or even doing all of them at times, depending on the circumstances. It’s our awareness of what and why we are doing things and our choosing to predominantly use one of them with intent that is important. 

We may also find that we want to make different choices about how we address our grief at different times along the way and during different parts of our journeys. It’s always your choice how you navigate your grief and grieving. These ideas are to give you a model that might help you recognize some possibilities and help you to choose your path when you are ready to do so.

1. We can choose (or think we need to choose) to be strong and stoic and try to hide our grief and our feelings of grief and not express them outwardly or deal with them internally. We can try to control or avoid them by hiding them, by keeping them to and maybe from ourself, locked away inside. This is, in many ways, an older model of grieving from an earlier time when showing or acknowledging any emotion was frowned upon.

2. Secondly, we can choose to hide from our grief, to get busy in perhaps multiple ways to keep ourselves from being alone with our grief. We can try to put the feelings off by doing lots of other things because we hurt so badly when we are alone. We may even think those grief feelings have gone away after awhile…

3. The third choice is to face our grief and surrender to it as and when it comes over us. We can choose to experience all that our grief brings us, including the pain and loneliness. We can perhaps learn to experience and embrace being alone with our grief at times, no matter how it makes us feel. We can come to understand that grief is a part of life and love and perhaps we are here to experience it all and learn all that it has to teach us as part of our journey through life.


When we do any type of conscious or unconscious avoidance, in this case resisting our grief, my experience and that of others I’ve talked to, is that the feelings of grief don’t really go away. What has usually happened is that the feelings and emotions have only become hidden inside us and because we are not dealing with them, they remain unresolved. They can remain inside us even if we don’t think so, since we haven’t learned all the things we need to learn from or about them.

They may, unfortunately, get even more intense tucked away inside us while we are busy avoiding them, until they find a way to come back to the surface sometime later down the road. Sometimes they explode as anger, sometimes they just build up and return to the surface with even more overwhelming pain and grief then before. Sometimes we may just find the world turning much less bright and the diversions becoming less effective and we may not even be aware of what or why that is happening. I guess its possible that sometimes, (although I’ve never encountered it) they may really just fade away over time as well.

So, the question here is:  Should we fight to avoid our grief, should we struggle and resist it, or should we try not to fight it, try not to resist grieving, but to face it, embrace it, surrender to it, sit down and visit with it and go with the flow of it no matter how badly it hurts or how little we like it and see what it has to teach us?

Two images from an old Oceanography Instructor:

waves of grief
  1. If you are washed out to sea in a riptide, a seaward moving current that goes away from shore, it is usually way stronger than you are. If you fight it, you will eventually tire and run out of energy and by fighting the strength of the current, sometimes people don’t have enough energy to make it back to shore. 

But, if you let the current take you, don’t fight it, surrender to it and let it carry you with it’s energy and take you out towards the sea (even though that doesn’t seem to be where you want to go), eventually, the current will run out of energy. Once it does, you can use the strength and energy you didn’t use fighting it to swim to the edge of the current and then turn and swim back to shore.

2. When I first moved to Florida, I thought that if I lived on the coast, I would want to have the strongest reinforced concrete pilings I could find to build a house on so it would survive the winds and waves of a hurricane if it occurred. I was surprised when I went to the coast that many of the homes built at the back of the beach had been and still were being built not on concrete pilings but on wood posts, much like telephone poles, that were driven deeply into the sand.

When I started trying to find out why, because it didn’t make sense to me to use a less strong material, I found out that because concrete is not only strong but also rigid and inflexible, in the wind, it was actually often too resistant. Concrete isn’t going to bend much at all, it will just rigidly stand there and eventually break and collapse because it couldn’t be flexible. 

Wood pilings, however, are like palm trees, they flex and bend in the wind and while a house built on them may sway and shift, except under the most extreme conditions, the pilings don’t usually fracture or shatter, they just tend to be flexible and bend under the force of the wind and waves.

Another image to consider:

3. In electrical and computer systems, resistance reduces the flow of electricity and uses up energy.  Resistance to the flow of electricity in the wiring generates heat as it moves through the hardware and that degrades the amount of usable energy that moves through the system. Since it is a loss of energy along the way, the more resistance there is, the less energy there is that’s available to run the system. 

This is why your computer heats up as the energy flows and it processes data. The resistance takes some of the energy input and turns it into heat. The more resistance there is, the more heat is generated and the less energy remains and the harder the computer has to work. 

A final thought about surrender: 

I believe that much of my own growth towards wellness was due to the early choices I made to surrender to my grief and face it head on, to experience all of it, to allow it to knock me to my knees at times, and to learn to remain flexible within it. I had to learn, slowly, to get back up and stand. I had to learn to find the strength and courage to brace myself and be ready for the next wave to break instead of running for the back of the beach each time I felt the next wave rising (even when I wanted to). 

From that surrender, I was able to build a strength within myself that allowed me to move forward, to move through my grief with less resistance, and to eventually find wellness in my life. Rather than squandering my strength fighting and struggling against it again and again, I believe that facing it allowed me to move through it more easily (although not less painfully) and with more energy available to work on healing because I wasn’t resisting it. Each time I got back up, it gave me an affirmation and a strength to know I could continue to live and grow and work to build the next part of my life.

When you are ready to take some control, how will you choose to grieve? Will you choose to struggle against and resist your grief in some way, will you try to learn to surrender to it, or perhaps, will you choose to find a hybrid and to do some of both?


  • What does struggle mean to you? How about surrender?
  • Can you relate any of the images we talked about to your journey?
  • Are you resisting your grief? How do you think that effects how you grieve and how you might move towards healing and wellness?

*** Can you think of other places or situations where surrender is a positive force that you might use as a model for applying it to your grieving?

  • What coping skills, social skills and life skills do you think you need to learn to move forward and surrender to your grief as opposed to resisting it?
  • If you have not yet reached a point of choice, based on who you are, would it be better for you to be rigid and inflexible (struggling against, resisting, and/or denying your grief) and possibly fracture under the stress, or would it be better for you to be more malleable and bend under the force that is applied to you by your grief (surrendering to your grief)? Would it better for you to struggle or surrender?
  • Where are you now? Are you hiding your grief, struggling to control it, hiding from it or facing, accepting and surrendering to it. Or are you doing some of each?
  • If you are struggling, what does your avoidance look like?
  • If you are surrendering to it, what do you think helped you the most to choose that path?
  • Why have you chosen the path that you have? Did it just happen or did something “push” you towards the direction you are following?
  • Where are you at in the process of learning to accept what has happened in your life?