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No Public Apology Needed For Me, Joel Osteen. Just Don’t Expect My Grief to Heal on a Timetable.


Healing grief takes time. And grieving, just like public apologies, cannot and should not be forced.

Pastor Joel Osteen has launched a 24/7 radio station on satellite radio (SiriusXM)

Over the past few days Pastor Joel Osteen has come under fire from a contributor who shared this story on TheBlaze.

I've read posts and other articles that blast Osteen and applaud the author of TheBlaze piece.

On behalf of the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, I felt compelled to write a response.

I honestly believe that no one human being is perfect and that as long as we walk this earth, we all have opportunities to learn from the perspective of others. Some we will agree with, some we will not. Some perspectives will challenge us to investigate our own thoughts on any given topic. This is one such opportunity.

[sharequote align="center"]Grieving, just like public apologies, cannot and should not be forced.[/sharequote]

In his book, "Your Best Life Now" (published in 2004),  Osteen discusses a couple who lost a child. He referenced a time period of grief, "a few months" and urged the parents to shake their grief, to look to the good things God has done for them. While I believe Elisabeth Kubler-Ross would applaud Pastor Osteen's effort to encourage gratitude as a part of one's healing journey, Elisabeth felt "the reality is you will grieve forever. You will not 'get over' the loss of a loved one. You will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered."

Simply stated, she felt there is no timeline for healing grief ... ever.

And I concur, but not just because I am the head of the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation. I am also a bereaved parent whose own son died after a 14-year battle with a neurological disorder. In both capacities I work with and walk amidst thousands of grieving parents annually.

Do I know people who get "stuck" in the seemingly endless cycle of bereavement? Absolutely. There are those that endure complicated grief for many reasons. Are they thriving on self-pity, as Osteen suggests in his book? The overwhelming majority do not.

Are there some that do? I've never met any but I'm guessing some do. In truth, what Osteen deems self-pity probably sounds more like disbelief instead of a true "poor me" mentality.

Pastor Joel Osteen has launched a 24/7 radio station on satellite radio (SiriusXM) Pastor Joel Osteen has launched a 24/7 radio station on satellite radio (SiriusXM)

Fact is, the majority of the grieving are simply trying to cope with life turned upside down and they truly appreciate having their loss and sorrow validated momentarily, yet often repeatedly. This is all understandable. This validation then, often leads many to once again set out on the road to healing.

The cycle can repeat itself over and over for years as the grieving find themselves adapting healthy coping mechanisms as they adjust to a "new normal" without their loved one in their physical lives.

Osteen does not owe me an apology, as the contributor of the article suggests. He is entitled to his opinion -- and I am entitled to mine. I do not want to apologize for my opinion that many grieving parents need years, if not an entire lifetime to heal an emotional wound so deep, that they themselves feel they would die from the pain of it all. Quite honestly, if he demanded an apology from me for speaking my truth, I'd recoil.

While I certainly do not agree with Osteen's specific statements and overall "get on with it" philosophy for grief as outlined in TheBlaze article, my own takeaway was that he was (albeit awkwardly) attempting to convey a message of the importance of seeking "gratitude." And this  concurs with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross own philosophy of "thankfulness" and the incredible beauty that can be gained through enduring loss:

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."

Healing grief takes time. And grieving, just like public apologies, cannot and should not be forced.

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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