We don’t say as much, but in our church culture, we often count expressions of grief as sin, and suppressing grief a virtue. We expect the God-fearing mourner – whether ourselves or someone else – to skip mourning and instantly assume the role of comforter.
Eager not to dishonor God, distress others or embarrass ourselves, we have thus perfected the art of short-circuiting grief.
Notice how the American Heritage Dictionary defines short circuit: “A low-resistance connection established by accident or intention between two points in an electric circuit. The current tends to flow through the area of low resistance, bypassing the rest of the circuit.”
A quicker way to a desired end sounds like a good thing – especially when the quicker way appears to avoid pain. But when an electric current finds a shorter path of very low resistance, the current becomes very strong. Damage, overheating and fires result.
Thus, in electricity, short-circuiting temporarily takes a shorter route to complete a circuit. Yet soon, short-circuiting destroys the circuit and shuts down anything dependent on it.
In a similar way, short-circuiting grief may temporarily appear to resolve it. Yet denying and stuffing grief – thus taking the path of least resistance – only strengthens the “current” beyond what you were wired to handle, bypassing resolution, impeding healing and causing damage you would not have suffered if you had given yourself permission to grieve.
Short-circuiting grief never moves you past grief. Rather, it shuts you down. It leaves you stuck in the very place you’re trying desperately to avoid.