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Reflections on Ruthless Grieving, Love and Forgiveness

Ruthless Grieving includes love and forgiveness.

The media has been rich with images and words from the people of Charleston, South Carolina. The spiritual community of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church has emphasized Love and Forgiveness, moving many to fight for gun control and against racism of all kinds.

My book, Ruthless Grieving, the Journey to Acceptance and Beyond, involves what I call “Full Spectrum Grieving.” It allows for anger and feelings of deep sadness, calls the mourners to action for the purpose of healing, and for the eventual outcome of love and forgiveness. “Ruthless” means fiercely including all the aspects of our emotional and spiritual selves to heal and become even more whole than we were before the losses.

We forgive for ourselves, as well. We pass through the anger and depressive sadness to reach the Love and the Acceptance. The people of Charleston came to love rather quickly and there is a warning about Premature Forgiveness in the book. We must go through our emotional process to reach true, deep acceptance. “Beyond” is the forgiveness and investment in the future. However, the people of Charleston set an intention, at the very outset, to forgive and love the assassin, an intention that moves toward each person and their community becoming healthy and whole.

Hurt people hurt people. We can be enraged at others’ behavior and hold to our values and intentions. The misguided can be dangerous. Allowing them to have easy access to guns makes them even more so. The call to action within great loss is part of the ruthlessness of grief and can make the world a better place.

Ruthless Grieving is a guide to a full spectrum process with the goal of acceptance and forgiveness. The people of Charleston are well on their way to “Acceptance and Beyond”. I do encourage the community to have all their feelings and allow no one to demand complete forgiveness too early in their grief.

Anger is spiritual, as is outrage, as is love and mercy. There is room for it all in a ruthless grief.

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