How to Deal with Grief of All Kinds

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 @ 12:20 PM

Recently in my life, I have had a series of trials happen within a short period of time! Most recent, is the loss of my precious sister (in law). So many say she “lost” the battle with cancer, however in my perspective, I believe she won!  She is now cancer free, has her perfect body, is with family that has gone before, but most of all, she is eternally with her Savior, our Lord Jesus!  How can that be loss?

The loss???? It’s left here on this earth for us to bear.  We grieve and go through a rainbow of feelings, emotions and “stuff”!

Just one of the trails, that has come in my life over the last 10 months, alone would be enough. For some reason, God has allowed all of them to come, it seems all at one time!  It brings to mind I Corinthians 10:13, where Paul tells us, “NO test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face.  All you need to remember is that GOD will never let your down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He will always be there to help you come through it!”  (The Message)  I can’t tell you how many times I have ran to that promise!

I have experienced the pain of losing a parent and/or close family. A little over 2 years ago, I lost my father – my daddy. After 94 years of life, God called him home and it was his time of rest. That was hard! Even when someone – such as a parent – has lived a long life, the pain isn’t any easier when losing them.

Some of the other loses in my life have been “non-death” related.  It wasn’t until recently that I realized/acknowledged the fact that grief also comes with these trials. In talking with someone about it, she mentioned how everything I have been experiencing are also forms of “loss” and I am going through the stages of grief just the same. WOW, what a revelation!

 Webster has up to 3 definitions of Grief…

obsolete : or no longer
a  deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement
       b  a cause of such suffering  : an unfortunate outcome
       b : mishap, misadventure

Wikipedia Defines it as: 

1.Deep sorrow, esp. that caused by someone’s death

2.Trouble or annoyance

I had to stop and really take a look, she is right!  And I now know that in order to process and move forward, I first have to acknowledge this fact – Grief is not just about Death!  So I want to share with you what I have learned and what was suggested for me to read in order to help me through this process. 

Ask God to Help You Process the Grief in Your Life. 

I pour out my complaint before Him; I tell my trouble before Him. Ps. 142:2 

He KNOWS about grief, for the ultimate sacrifice of His only Son could not have been an easy thing to go through.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son… John 3:16a

God gave us the emotions of grief and sorrow. But we are NOT designed to stay “stuck” there.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  Psalm 147:3;

And we know that for those who love God ALL things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. Roman 8:28

God wants to see His children whole.  In Revelation it says, He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Rev 21:4

WE MUST ALLOW GRIEF TO PROCESS.  Grief does not discriminate!  It will wait, but be assured that it will come out sometime, somehow whether good (healthy) nor not (destructive)!

I want to share with you the Kubler-Ross model of the Five Stages of Grief.  Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. was a Swiss American psychiatrist, a pioneer in Near-death studies and the author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying (1969), where she first discussed what is now known as the Kübler-Ross model.

Although the study mainly talks about grief as “death”, I was able to recognize that the 5 stages applied to all of the other types of grief/losses I have been experiencing.


 

The Five Stages of Grief – By Elisabeth Kübler-Ross & David Kessler

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

The stages have evolved since their introduction and they have been very misunderstood over the past three decades. They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss as there is no typical loss. Our grief is as individual as our lives.

The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Not everyone goes through all of them or in a prescribed order. Our hope is that with these stages comes the knowledge of grief’s terrain, making us better equipped to cope with life and loss.

Denial

This first stage of grieving helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle.

As you accept the reality of the loss and start to ask yourself questions, you are unknowingly beginning the healing process. You are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade. But as you proceed, all the feelings you were denying begin to surface.

Anger 

Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. There are many other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time, but anger is the emotion we are most used to managing. The truth is that anger has no limits. It can extend not only to your friends, the doctors, your family, yourself and your loved one who died, but also to God. You may ask, “Where is God in this?

Underneath anger is pain, your pain. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger. Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss.

At first grief feels like being lost at sea: no connection to anything. Then you get angry at someone, maybe a person who didn’t attend the funeral, maybe a person who isn’t around, maybe a person who is different now that your loved one has died. Suddenly you have a structure – – your anger toward them.

The anger becomes a bridge over the open sea, a connection from you to them. It is something to hold onto; and a connection made from the strength of anger feels better than nothing. We usually know more about suppressing anger than feeling it. The anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love.

Bargaining

Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. “Please God,” you bargain, “I will never be angry at my wife again if you’ll just let her live.” After a loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce. “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others? Then can I wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream?”

We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements. We want life returned to what is was; we want our loved one restored. We want to go back in time: find the tumor sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the accident from happening…if only, if only, if only.

Guilt is often bargaining’s companion. The “if only” causes us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently. We may even bargain with the pain. We will do anything not to feel the pain of this loss. We remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt. People often think of the stages as lasting weeks or months. They forget that the stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. We do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one.

Depression

After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever.

It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss. We withdraw from life, left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering, perhaps, if there is any point in going on alone? Why go on at all?

Depression after a loss is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of. The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the situation you’re in is actually depressing. The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response.

To not experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual. When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realization that your loved one didn’t get better this time and is not coming back is understandably depressing. If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.

Acceptance

Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality. We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live.

We must try to live now in a world where our loved one is missing. In resisting this new norm, at first many people want to maintain life as it was before a loved one died. In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, however, we see that we cannot maintain the past intact. It has been forever changed and we must readjust. We must learn to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others, or take them on ourselves.

Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones. As we begin to live again and enjoy our life, we often feel that in doing so, we are betraying our loved one. We can never replace what has been lost, but we can make new connections, new meaningful relationships, and new inter-dependencies.


 

Instead of denying our feelings, we listen to our needs; we move, we change, we grow, we evolve. We may start to reach out to others and become involved in their lives. We invest in our friendships and in our relationship with ourselves. We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time.

At times, people in grief will often report more stages. Just remember your grief is as unique as you are.   By Elisabeth Kübler-Ross & David Kessler

And with the final – acceptance – it brings peace!  After a long process of “grief” peace will come.  Each day God will meet you, give you strength and bring healing.  I don’t know if we EVER completely “get over it” but He is faithful to keep His promises.

John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 

I love the way The Message reads….

Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.

Psalm 30:5 says… “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning” Maybe not tomorrow morning , but it will come.

Christ will not leave us the way He finds us.  If you allow Him to help you through the process, He WILL bring you out on the other side and you will have healing.

 

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