14 Self-Defeating Thoughts To Avoid in Your Grief


All of us have our weak moments in life–those moments when we doubt ourselves, our ability and our resources available to help us face up to the challenges of simply going forward in life.  Therefore, it is very understandable how we mourners confronted with the overwhelming, all-consuming, energy-draining experience of grief can begin to doubt our abilities to proceed any further without the physical presence of our loved one who has died.

I remember a young father whose teenage son had died in an automobile accident just weeks earlier telling me,  “Larry,  these two months of grieving my son have just been more than I thought I could ever bear.  I am a relatively young person who could live for another thirty or forty years.  If I can barely withstand two months of grief,  I wonder how i will ever endure thirty of forty years of missing my son and hurting like hell all that time!”

All of us mourners doubt because we are human and sometimes we are totally exhausted from the struggle in grief.  When mourning clients, friends or family members ask me how they can go on, I ask them to do a short mental exercise.  I ask them to pretend that they are the one who has died and their loved one is now left behind.  I then ask what they would want for their loved one left behind after their death.  They usually say things like:

  • “I would want them to grieve for a little while but to go on.
  • “I would want them to enjoy a happy, fulfilling life.”
  •  “I would want them to find peace.”
  • “I wouldn’t want their life to be ruined simply because I died.”

That is what you would want for your loved ones if you died.  And that is what your loved one who has died wants for you.   The best way that you can honor and respect the wishes and memory of your loved one who has died is to mourn them in healthy ways and to lead a good life.  That means going on despite your doubts in grief.  By defeating those doubts and courageously facing the grief in your life when all seems impossible you build a lasting living memorial to your loved one.

Below are fourteen common self-defeating thoughts that happen often to humans just like you in grief.  When doubt hits causing you to believe that you can not do grief alone and on your own power, then don’t.  Call upon the resources that you have available to you — family, friends, co-workers, church ministers and fellow members, and your core beliefs in a Power beyond  yourself.

Whenever the following thoughts of doubt and  self defeat strike, read the texts beside them and look thoroughly for the hope, encouragement and support written into these scriptures for your personal grief situation.

  • “IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!”  All things are possible – Luke 18:27
  • “IT’S HOPELESS!”  In Christ, we find our hope – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
  • “I’M TOO TIRED!”  I will give you rest – Matthew 11:28-30
  • “I CANNOT GO ON!”  My grace is sufficient – 2 Corinthians 12:9 & Psalms 91:15
  • “I CANNOT DO IT!”  You can do all things – Philippians 4:13
  • “I CANNOT FIGURE IT OUT!”  I’ll direct your steps – Proverbs 3:5-6
  • “IT’S NOT WORTH ALL THE TROUBLE (OR PAIN)!”  It will soon be worth it all – Romans 8: 28f
  • I CANNOT FORGIVE MYSELF!”  I forgive you – 1 John 1: 9 & Romans 8:1
  • “I CANNOT MANAGE IT!”  I will supply all of your needs – Philippians 4:19
  • “I AM AFRAID WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN!”  I have not given you a spirit of fear – 2 Timothy 1:7
  • “I AM ALWAYS WORRIED & FRUSTRATED!”  Cast all your care on Him – 1 Peter 5:7
  • “I DO NOT HAVE THE FAITH IT TAKES!”  I’ve given everyone a measure of faith – Romans 12:3
  • “I AM JUST NOT SMART ENOUGH!”  I give you wisdom – 1 Corinthians 1:30 & James 1:5
  • “I AM ALL ALONE!”  I will never leave you or forsake you – Hebrews 13:5

Posted by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

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About griefminister

Director, GriefWorks & CounselingWorks Licensed Professional Counselor Certified in Thanatology (Study of Death, Dying & Bereavement) by The Association of Death Education and Counseling Grief Therapist, Educator, Consultant Author-"Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise.'
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