Grief is something we all have to face in our lifetime. I have faced death several times in my life. I have lost pets, friends, and my dad. But the worst loss I have ever faced was the death of my husband. The day before his death was like any other day. It was his day off and we did normal everyday things. The kids went to school. I went to the store and got dinner, where I picked up Steven’s favorite meal, ribs. I didn’t know it would be his last meal, but it was. It was late after I picked the kids up from basketball practice, and we were all winding down for the day. I was in the living room. Ashley and her dad were watching White Christmas together. The rest of the kids were doing homework or playing on the computer.
Finally, I got all the kids into bed, we said our nightly prayers and I went into the bedroom. Steve had to get up early and was already asleep by the time I went to bed.
He always woke me up before he left by giving me a hug and kiss before he left, and maybe this morning he did but I was either so sound asleep that I didn’t realize it or he was in too much of a hurry. Little did I know it would be my last day with him. I didn’t know as I slept that morning that his truck tipped and overturned sending him straight into a telephone pole that killed him almost instantly. I didn’t expect the knock on my door that would change my world forever, just as I know Steven didn’t realize that on this day he would come face to face with His maker and eternity.
The death of a loved one is life’s most painful event. People’s reactions to death remain one of society’s least understood and most off-limits topics for discussion. Oftentimes, grievers are left totally alone in dealing with their pain, loneliness, and isolation.
Grief is a natural emotion that follows death. It hurts. Sadness, denial, guilt, physical discomfort, and sleeplessness are some of the symptoms of grief. It is like an open wound which must become healed. At times, it seems as if this healing will never happen. While some of life’s spontaneity begins to return, it never seems to get back to the way it was. It is still incomplete. We know, however, that these feelings of being incomplete can disappear.
Healing is a process of allowing ourselves to feel, experience, and accept the pain. In other words, we give ourselves permission to heal. Allowing ourselves to accept these feelings is the beginning of that process.
The healing process can take much less time than we have been led to believe. There are two missing parts. One is a safe, loving, professionally guided atmosphere in which to express our feelings; the other is knowing how and what to communicate.
When we experience a major loss, grief is the normal and natural way our mind and body react. Everyone grieves differently. And at the same time there are common patterns people tend to share. For example, someone experiencing grief usually moves through a series of emotional stages, such as shock, numbness, guilt, anger and denial. And physical responses are typical also. They can include: sleeplessness, inability to eat or concentrate, lack of energy, and lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed.
Time always plays an important role in the grieving process. As the days, weeks and months go by, the person who is experiencing loss moves through emotional and physical reactions that normally lead toward acceptance, healing and getting on with life as fully as possible.
Sometimes a person can become overwhelmed or bogged down in the grieving process. Serious losses are never easy to deal with, but someone who is having trouble beginning to actively re-engage in life after a few months should consider getting professional help. For example, if continual depression or physical symptoms such as loss of appetite, inability to sleep, or chronic lack of energy persists, it is probably time to see a doctor.
We must accept a loss. For each of us – – rich or poor, young or old – – there are times in our lives when we must face and deal with personal losses and the pain and sorrow they cause. Examples that come easily to mind are the death of a parent, spouse, child, or other close family member or friend. Many other events and transitions also bring with them sadness and a need to grieve:
1. Being told you have a serious, possibly terminal illness.
2. Having to give up interests and activities that have been a major part of your life.
3. Seeing serious decline in mental or physical health of someone you love.
4. Retiring from a work career or voluntary activity that has helped shape who you are and what you stand for.
5. Losing a significant part of your independence and mobility; even giving up driving a car can be a significant loss for many people.
6. Moving out of your home.
7. Saying goodbye to a favorite pet.
Losses such as these are simply part of living. Like their counterparts among the joyful occasions in our lifetime – – the birth of a child or grandchild, a celebration of marriage, an enduring friendship – – they are part of what it means to share in the human condition.
The Bible gives is several verses to help us through the grieving process. These are a few that helped me during my times of sorrow.
‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
1 Peter 5:6-7
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.
and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
2 Corinthians 7:10
For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
This is my comfort in my affliction, That Thy word has revived me.
For Thou dost light my lamp; The LORD my God illumines my darkness.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever
Grief is something we all have to face in this life but with God’s help, comfort and presence we can overcome sorrow and if our loved ones are in heaven even rejoice that we will someday see them again.