- That we are in grief; everyone is vulnerable, grief is not just for other people, it is not avoidable. Denial is not a solution.
- That we can feel what is happening to us. Extreme grief is so intense that internal circuit breakers kick in and submerge or isolate the feelings we have, but grief is not gone when that happens, and feelings will happen.
- That what we are going through is a part of the human experience for everyone who has loss. The validation of that type of recognition is very important, and it is one of the most valuable things that members of a grief support group provide each other: validation that the terrible stresses and emotions we feel are normal, human and real.
Recognition in grief is vastly different from recognition in a twelve step program. In a twelve step program, the community exists to say "we see through your denial, but you can recover if you will just embrace honesty." In grief, the community exists to say "you aren't alone, you aren't going crazy. You are not ok, but you will be ok, you can live through this."
In grief you will find recognition as a part of validation. No twelve step program I am aware of exists to validate the behaviors they seek to overcome. All grief groups exist to validate grief.
That is why the second step of a twelve step program, which is the key to a twelve step program, is merely a part of the journey that is grief work. God is a tool for recovery from grief, not the core requirement.
This early separation is why grief communities lose interest in twelve step programs. There is no sudden enlightenment that draws us irrevocably out of grief. No one walks into Compassionate Friends and walks out free from grief, many suffering from alcoholism walk into AA meetings and emerge sober, if not their first night, within ninety days.
Alas, grief must be lived through, must be worked through, it is not something we are rescued from, regardless of moments of enlightenment along the way.
But I'll return to the topic, because further in, twelve step programs have tools and realizations that are useful for grief work, useful for life, useful for recovery. While it is only a tool in grief work, the realization that God can help us work through our sorrows and grief is important to grief work.
When responding to grief, it appears that God doesn't care how we visualize him, what our faith or tradition is, or how we pray, as long as we sincerely seek God. (There have been a number of good scientific studies on God and grief recovery). AA's "God of your understanding" is very true of the merciful and kind God who aids those in grief who honestly seek God. Which brings us back to places twelve step program applications are useful.
But remember, God is faithful and kind to those who seek him in grief, gentle with them according to their understandings, hope and faith.
May faith, hope and love attend you.