Grief, Understanding and Hope…

23 09 2018

I’ve been overwhelmed with grief this week & especially yesterday. Now that decisions were made & death is “done”… a sense of relief has come. But… the depths and cycles and seasons of grief continue. My dearest friend lost her father on Wednesday, September 19th. Then we put to sleep our dear sweet cat, Misty Rose on Saturday, September 22nd.

I remember after losing my brother (he was 26yrs. old) suddenly from a drunk driver in August 2005 and going to church between his death and funeral, a friend not knowing what occurred made an innocent comment, “why do you look so down, it’s not as if someone has died.” I was cut to the core by the insensitive statement. Later, she apologized profusely.

I once went to a conference just a few weeks after the death of my mother after a prolonged time in hospice care from cancer in September 1999. I attended one of the many workshops offered between the main sessions. It was entitled something along the lines of “Dealing with Death, Grief & Loss”. Granted, my emotions were raw, and why I chose this over others were mixed. However, I was completely unprepared for the opening remarks of the speaker, “I don’t know which is worse, the sudden death of a loved one or the gradual dying and death of a loved one. Having not experienced either one, I can only imagine what that might be like.” I remember promptly standing up in the middle of approximately 50-100 people and saying something like, “then what qualifies you to speak at all.” Then not waiting for an answer I walked out, sat down in an isolated corner and wept. Some friends came and silently comforted me.

I had experienced both kinds of deaths. Sudden unexpected ones, prolonged ones, and ones of elderly family members.

I had before and after that time lost others close to me, friends, family and my dear pets.

Recently, during this week of “death”, a friend mentioned “they would call and nothing would get in the way short of someone dying”. Unknown to them my dear friend’s dad was on death’s door and our cat was very ill.

I only bring these three examples to our attention because we often say things jokingly, sarcastically, or as “just a phrase or manner of speaking”. But often are “innocent” comments hurt deeply.

We should choose our words wisely and only speak truth in love. In the case of deep sorrow, even the words, “I understand” or “I know how you feel ” followed by “because I’ve been there.” Can cause intense pain and/or anger.

To be truthfully honest we truly do NOT understand nor do we know how another feels. Each death is uniquely different from every other one or other person’s perception of it.

Each person is uniquely different and each relationship with the loss of the loved one was uniquely different – this is true within families, this is true with each pet. The loss of a person or pet is felt differently and because we all process death in our own way, no two deaths will ever be the same.

Having said this, there are behavioral and psychological studies that show similarities about death – mainly that there are cycles of grief and loss that we can identify: Shock, Anger, Relief, Depression, Denial, Acceptance, etc. AND it’s not like it goes through “steps”, rather each phase can jump from one to another and then back again and then on to another.

Because grief is a process we need to be patient, kind, caring and compassionate providing comfort, a listening ear, even if memories or details are repeated. The same can be said of ourselves going through the grief: be kind, caring, compassionate and patient with ourself.

So as I grieve, I am doing one thing, giving myself permission to grieve and not “have it all together”.

I do grieve as one who has hope… my hope is in the Lord! He is the One, who truly understands ALL things, sees things so entirely clear, and can give comfort, healing and catch every tear in a bottle of remembrance. I look forward to that day, where there will be no more sorrow, death is destroyed, and every tear will be wiped away.

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