This last weekend we went to a memorial service for a well known man in our community and our church family. This man was a long time mechanic in our town and we had been taking our cars to him and trusting him with our lives for years. Once our kids were old enough to drive, we had them take their cars to him as well. That’s trust right there folks! He’s been a member of our church for the last 3 years and married his life long friend who had grown up in our church. So he had then become part of the our church family as well.
Since his passing our house has been filled with a level of grief. Different emotions had set in throughout the week since his unexpected passing the week before. Mostly unbelief and sadness. Each time we would drive past his shop, which was daily since is was on the main street, we’d expect to see his bay door open, but it wasn’t. Each of the the kids had taken their cars to him the week or 2 before and he had asked them to bring them back for a quick check up in a week or 2. That would have been the week after he had passed. So when the day came for the cars to go in, there was sadness. The kids were sad, and I was sad for the kids and their sadness.
I lost my dad November 2013 and it took me till this last January 2015 to feel some what normal again. I am still sad. I miss my dad as much as I did the year before, but I am no longer unable to breathe. I can function at a normal level, where as before I was just functioning because it was necessary. I still had to cook, clean, and go to work. I still had to engage with my family even when all I wanted to do was cover my head with a blanket and hide in my sorrow. So loosing this latest member of our church family somehow took me back a bit. Took me back to the pain of loss. It was a bit hard to process, but I’d cry through it and move on.
As the memorial service approached, the sadness increased. We had all decided we would attend the service to support his family. The day came and we arrived very early. Good thing too, because peopled began to arrive an hour before the service was to start. While we were waiting, I saw his wife walk in … with a smile on her face and a hug for each person who greeted her. Exactly what I had expected from this woman of God. This pillar of faith. I say that because this is the second husband she has lost and that’s how she was the first time too. AMAZING!!
I did not handle my loss that way. I wish I could have. I really do, but I didn’t. I fell apart. I saw myself at the edge of a dark cliff ready to fall at any moment. I lost all perspective on life, hope and faith. I was angry. I was angry at my dad for leaving, even though I’d given him my blessing. I was angry at God for taking my dad. And I was angry at the the people around me trying to “help”. I didn’t want help from any one. I went to church only because I felt obligated. I was a mess. The best part, I’ve been a believer in Jesus Christ for 20 years. My hope and trust was in Him. I believe in Heaven and eternal life with Christ my savior. I believe God’s word and trust what it says. I believe if we confess our sins we are washed in the blood of Christ and have freedom.
Some how, when my dad died, I lost it all. I gave up and wanted to be left alone. That is not how to handle grief. I think of my friend from church and how she has handled the loss of 2 husbands and again I am amazed. She has hope, peace and joy in Christ. It’s almost as if she never missed a beat. She spoke at his memorial with a smile and joy in her voice. On Sunday at church she worshiped the same way. I hope I can be a pillar of faith like my friend from church. She inspires me to look deeper into God’s Word. To really live what I believe.
During that year after daddy died, I began to see a counselor. I was nervous at first, but she just let me talk and cry. I cried mostly, but we talked some as well. It was great to have someone safe to talk to. I felt free to say anything to her. Every emotion I felt at the time no matter how ugly. She just loved me through it with the love of Christ. I am grateful for her. I believe she was used as part of my healing process. If you are struggling with grief, I encourage you to seek a christian grief counselor.
STAGES OF GRIEF
There are 5 stages of grief. My pastor and I came up with an acronym. DABDA. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. DABDA seems silly, but it helps me remember the order of the stages.
The first reaction to learning of terminal illness or death of a cherished loved one is to deny the reality of the situation. It is a normal reaction to rationalize overwhelming emotions. It is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock. We block out the words and hide from the facts. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain.
As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and it’s pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Anger may be directed at our dying or deceased loved one. Rationally, we know the person is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us more angry.
Remember, grieving is a personal process that has no time limit, nor one “right” way to do it.
Do not hesitate to ask your doctor to give you extra time or to explain just once more the details of your loved one’s illness. Arrange a special appointment or ask that he contact you at the end of his day. Ask for clear answers to your questions regarding medical diagnosis and treatment. Understand the options available to you. Take your time.
The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control–
- If only we had sought medical attention sooner…
- If only we got a second opinion from another doctor…
- If only we had tried to be a better person toward them…
Secretly, we may make a deal with God in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. This is a weaker line of defense to protect us from the painful reality.
Two types of depression are associated with mourning. The first one is a reaction to practical implications relating to the loss. Sadness and regret predominate this type of depression. We worry about the costs and burial. We worry that, in our grief, we have spent less time with others that depend on us. This phase may be eased by simple clarification and reassurance. We may need a bit of helpful cooperation and a few kind words. The second type of depression is more subtle and, in a sense, perhaps more private. It is our quiet preparation to separate and to bid our loved one farewell. Sometimes all we really need is a hug.
Reaching this stage of mourning is a gift not afforded to everyone. Death may be sudden and unexpected or we may never see beyond our anger or denial. It is not necessarily a mark of bravery to resist the inevitable and to deny ourselves the opportunity to make our peace. This phase is marked by withdrawal and calm. This is not a period of happiness and must be distinguished from depression.
Loved ones that are terminally ill or aging appear to go through a final period of withdrawal. This is by no means a suggestion that they are aware of their own impending death or such, only that physical decline may be sufficient to produce a similar response. Their behavior implies that it is natural to reach a stage at which social interaction is limited. The dignity and grace shown by our dying loved ones may well be their last gift to us.
Coping with loss is ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience — nobody can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you’re going through. But others can be there for you and help comfort you through this process. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes over you. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing.
my source: pyschcentrial.com
SYMPTOMS OF GRIEF
There are physical, emotional and spiritual symptoms of grief. To make it easier I have attached a free printable for you. I was amazed at how many of these symptoms I had. Almost all of them. Right click Physical Effects to download the file.
my source: recover-from-grief.com
No matter the loss, there is always HOPE. I found my hope in a renewed relationship with Christ. I began reading a little of His Word again and telling Him how I felt. I could feel His love surround me sometimes. Each day after I made the choice to seek Him, I would feel better. I now see myself not sitting on the edge of a cliff, but standing with my arms open wide with His GRACE raining down on me. Renewed, Hopeful, Restored. Praise the Lord.
If you are experiencing grief right now and if any of this post was helpful to you, please let me know. How have you dealt with grief? What worked best for you? Do any or even all of these stages and symptoms match up with you and your experience?
“Though I fall, I will Rise Again. Though I sit in darkness, The Lord will be my light.” Micah 7:8