2018 seems to be quite rough for everyone I know. So much death, loss, and change. Lots of sad news stories, reminders of “how bad our city is”, and much more. With all of this, I wanted to talk about grief. When we think of grief, there are 5 classified stages. I’ll get to those in just a minute. Does it feel like, these days, you really don’t have time to grieve? We are expected to be strong and carry on with life as if the loss never happened. For those working the typical 9 to 5, you probably get maybe 3-5 days of bereavement? Then what? You’re expected to work at full capacity, otherwise you risk losing that job. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to have income coming in and working definitely can help take your mind off of things when you’re in the low moments. But the expectation of being jolly and encouraging to others is quite a feat during this time period. Someone recently mentioned to me that their job has amazing bereavement support, varying from close relatives to family friends. They shared that you take days when you need them, which could range from 5 to 20 days. AND, get this, you don’t have to use them all at once! If you want to use some to do funeral planning and/or travel, but later have those “reflection moments” where you need a moment, you can feel free to do so. This should be standard or somewhat of a similar option everywhere. You can’t put a time limit on grief. Heaven forbid you have to be the one in charge of the funeral planning, contacting the insurance company, reaching out to everyone to keep them informed, gathering info and making the obituary, booking travel, following up with billing and accounts, having mail forwarded, just to name a few things. How on Earth is that possible in 3 days. When do you have a chance to reflect and express your true feelings? Also, what if you are coping well initially because you’re still in the Denial phase of grief but a few months later, you breakdown because all the emotions start flooding back and holidays are a big reminder of what’s currently not in front of you anymore. Christians often hear “you know they are in a better place” or “don’t be sad, just pray”. We shall indeed pray and remain close to God during this time, but let’s not forget that we are human and humans experience pain, hurt, and sorrow.
Here are the 5 stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, & Acceptance. Many of us don’t get through all 5 stages in one week’s time. It may take a month, year, or several years to get to the stage of Acceptance. In some instances, people revert back through a stage when their thoughts take over and different life experiences pop up. Denial is when you really can’t believe that person is gone and may be that you refuse to believe it and go numb. I know I would say to myself “oh they are just sleeping” or “it’s not real”.
Anger can become a person’s or a family’s worse enemy. You are mad at the world and any action can set you off. Maybe you’re mad at yourself or even the person that left asking “why did you leave us like this?” or “why didn’t you just call me if you needed help?”. Maybe you feel like your family isn’t helping as much as they could be.
Bargaining can go right along with Anger as you start to debate with yourself to say “was there something I could’ve done to prevent this?” or “why didn’t I answer that last call?” or statements of “what if”. Sometimes I get teary eyed thinking about the time I wish there was left to spend with that person. Or the sun will shine through the window a certain way and it will bring back warm memories of good times & laughs with my grandparents. Don’t be afraid to share with someone how you’re feeling. Say it out loud. Write it down. Release it. It’s therapeutic.
These are all normal stages of grief and the most important part is to try not to get stuck in the stages other than Acceptance for too long as it can definitely affect relationships, your outlook on life and those around you, and even impact your personal self. Grief is not only the loss of a person, but could be loss of a pet, a home, best friend, even a job. My words of encouragement are to stay encouraged as we know where we are trying to earn an invitation to (heaven) and we can only do our best and live our best life as we leave a legacy when it’s our turn to take that journey. Be comforted, as God will never put more on you than you can bear and He always has you in His arms. You will have trying days but you will be OK. Take it easy. Try not to feel guilty about doing something enjoyable. I pray that your heart not be heavy, may your mind be filled with beautiful memories and accomplishments, and may you be encouraged to press forward. I’m sending a virtual version of my world famous warm hugs to you.
Peace, Love, & blessings!