Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

Late Night Visitor – Grief Brain

When we are young, we are handed blunt-ended scissors to learn motor skills cutting paper and yarn for art projects. Even though they are blunt, we are taught the golden rule..NO RUNNING WITH SCISSORS.

I love to sew and respect a good pair of sharp scissors. Seamstresses form a bond between their scissors and the projects they are working on. Time is spent picking out fabric, patterns, thread, and embellishments. Laying it all out to see how it will go together is like getting to know a new friend. Countless hours will be spent cutting, piecing, pinning, sewing and pressing. All with the gentleness of a creator.

There have been several projects I worked on for weeks that suddenly met their demise and found themselves in the trash all because I cut it wrong or even worse, accidentally cut a hole in the fabric. The final project was a disaster because it didn’t fit together like when I first laid it out or the hole cut into the fabric was beyond creative repair.

I mourn the loss after every project fail. I constantly go over in my mind how the extra snip of the scissor should never have happened.

When we are young, we learn how to make friends by being submerged in school with other children our age. The tug-o-war between coveted toys teaches us to share. Once bitten or hit by another child, we were taught the golden rule:  DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE DONE TO YOU.

Once we learn to share and treat others fairly, we are on our way to some pretty awesome life-long friends. As we age, new friendships form between us and co-workers, within volunteer groups, as well as our interests and hobbies. As long as there is a commonality, relationships are easier to maintain.

Several people have come into my life for a season and I no longer spend time with them or talk to them. The reasons vary from no longer working together, volunteer groups disbanded, and sadly due to irreparable disagreements.

I mourn the loss of the friendships that fail. I constantly go over in my mind how the breakdown of the relationship happened and wish it didn’t happen.

‘No running with scissors’ and ‘do unto others as you would have done to you’ are great rules for life, but something happens to us when we are in the midst of grief. These rules get clouded over and lose their power over us. When we are mourning, we have what is called grief brain. According to Jannel Phillips, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist at Henry Ford Health System, “There can be a disruption in hormones that results in specific symptoms, such as disturbed sleep, loss of appetite, fatigue and anxiety. There are several regions of the brain that play a role in emotion, including areas within the limbic system and pre-frontal cortex. These involve emotional regulation, memory, multi-tasking, organization and learning. When you’re grieving, a flood of neurochemicals and hormones dance around in your head.”

Grief hits us so hard some days that we are not thinking or acting like we did on the days before grief entered our lives. Relationships get cut short and they do not fit together as they once were laid out. Doing unto others as you would have done to you is kicked to the curb as if it were just a stone in the way of a walking path.

The break down of relationships is what I mourn the most this day. Not only do I miss my loved ones that have passed, but I also miss people that are still alive.

Cloud of grief, how long must you remain? Please answer me! How long must you remain?

If failed projects can become learning experiences, I have hope that broken relationships will mend into something better than they were before grief entered in.

Psalm 51:17 (NIV)

17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

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