GRIEF is loss. Grief is a noun. It is an actual element we feel within us. It is a strong emotion of deep sorrow. It is not just an obscure figment of our imagination. It is a substance within us. It comes at the loss of something: a spouse, a child, a friend, a parent, a relationship, a home, a pet, a home, a community, a job or any other numerous painful experiences life throws at us.
Grief is one the deepest and most profound experiences a person will ever have to go through. It drains us, overwhelms us, shakes us to the very core and changes who we are. Grief is pain.
Grief is a process, a long journey of acceptance and healing. You can and will get through this time and come back to a happy and productive life. If you don’t know anything else, know this, through the power of God and the love of Christ you will be healed, encouraged, strengthened and empowered to work through your grief. “Though sorrow may last for the night JOY comes in the morning.” Ps. 30:5
We will walk this journey together and find the best tools for you – that you might again find joy in your journey.
We have found 5 steps that will begin to give you the tools you need in this journey of grief. Each person will be at each stage as long as necessary and will find that they may have to revert or skip ahead according to their individual healing process. Never rush the healing. Allow it to happen naturally.
First, it is important to acknowledge you are grieving. It is important to “Give Voice” to that grieving process. We do this by letting yourself and others know that you are in this process. You may begin crying when you are having coffee with a friend. You may say “I am still grieving. I just remembered when Joe and I used to drink coffee together and I miss him so much.” Whenever possible let the tears flow. Accept your grief and acknowledge your grief. Sharing your grief with others lets those closest to you walk with you in this journey. Never stuff your emotions. Denying your grief only prolongs the healing process and will then have to be dealt with at a later date.
Next, it’s important to understand the Five Grief Steps:
1) We begin this journey called “Grief” by wanting to deny what has occurred.
We are in shock and disbelief. You never expected this to happen so soon. You wake up each morning with dread…. “Oh no… he’s gone. I still can’t believe it happened.” You replay all the events of the last few months over and over. You feel like you are in a fog. You still sometimes think he or she will walk through the door, call you, hug you. The silence is deafening. It doesn’t feel real. It feels like a bad dream.
2) We move into the deep longing and missing of the person, pet or place. Anger at the loss often begins.
Alone and reminiscing you begin to deeply miss the loved ones touch, their voice, their laugh, their presence. It feels as though there is a hole in your heart that no one can fill – no one except that person. At times you find yourself angry at the person – angry for leaving you, angry for not taking care of their health, angry for leaving a financial mess. Your emotions are on a roller coaster.
3) Next, we often enter depression and despair when it seems nothing will help. We want to withdraw.
After months of grieving it seems nothing is getting better. You only miss the person more. You feel despondent, alone, in despair and possibly depressed. You try to stay busy, to do volunteer work, but the pain seems to grow. You ache with longing for the person. You can smell their clothes, their cologne, their perfume, it all stirs up deep emotions. You see reminders of them everywhere you go – a favorite restaurant, a park, a TV show, a mutual friend. At times you just want to seclude. You feel too tired to begin new relationships. It takes everything within you to leave the house, to go to work, to attend church, to go to your support group – it’s just too much effort.
4) As we move through the process we begin to overcome much of the sadness and there is a lightening of our emotions. Hope seems to be on the horizon.
Time passes and something makes you laugh – where did that come from? Then it happens some time later. There are now occasions that you smile. Finally a day comes when the dark heaviness in your heart is only there part of the day. In time you find yourself wanting to get together with friends and family. In time, there are several days that pass when you actually feel positive. There is starting to be more energy in your body. Some of the aches and pains you were feeling for so long are not as intense. It is as if your body is healing along with your heart. You begin to think that perhaps there is life after grief.
5) Finally there is the acceptance of what has happened and the greater understanding that God still has a plan for your life.
You are finally beginning to live life again. You now have new relationships – perhaps even a new marriage. You have found that God still cares, still loves you and that He has the best intentions for you. There is a deep peace in your heart that you haven’t felt for a long time. You find joy and laughter now come easily. At times you still feel a pang of sadness, but it doesn’t darken your entire day, you are able to move on. You are finding a new purpose. You are drawing closer to God. You are on a new journey and you once again see that life can be good.
It is at this time that we ask ourselves “What am I doing with my life” “Is there more for me to experience?” “It is time to try some new things?” This is when you may begin to think of traveling, trying new sports, joining new groups, seeking out others with similar interests, rekindling past relationships, finding your purpose in life. This is the time when you want to ask God to show you what He has for you, what your purpose is and how you are to accomplish it.
Along your journey be sure that you understand and pray the Balm of Gilead over yourself so that any hurts are healed and bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness are dealt with so that you don’t become angry, cynical and sarcastic. You want to grow in love and grace knowing that your Heavenly Father always has the best for you.
Grief doesn’t actually follow a neat little progression of stages or cycles. It is messy and complicated. With the help of God, the Power of the Holy Spirit and the tools God gives us you will heal, you will survive, your will thrive and you will continue to live a beautiful life.
“Lord, in Jesus name I pray for my friend who is grieving. Give him/her the strength, courage, love and acceptance they need to make it through this journey. Wrap them in your arms and rock them like a baby. Let them feel your unconditional love. Empower them to live for you.” In Jesus name we pray. amen