The past two weeks have been challenging. I have had two relatives die and another family member called me grieving over the loss of his son. Grieving over the loss of a loved one, friend, or even a pet can be devastating… to say the least. The pain reaches so deeply in our heart and soul, many of us shut down emotionally just to survive. Some of us hide in activities, work, movies, drugs, alcohol, and so many other things to cope. I have had many losses in my life and I am sure you have too, discovering the stages of grief may not bring comfort but it can bring understanding. If you are walking through the painful journey of grieving over the loss of someone or a pet you love, here are some things to remember.
Grief sometimes feels like you have died and your heart may feel like it has been broken into little pieces. According to Kubler Ross who studied the grief process; there are several stages we encounter when we allow ourselves to grieve. Sometimes we cycle in and out of different stages, but this is normal.
- Shock– You can’t believe your loved one or pet died. You may feel numb, unemotional, or distant from the news.
- Denial – After the shock has worn off, you may continue to live life as if nothing happened. You may continue in your daily routine because you can’t come to grip with the news of your loss. You may cut yourself off from family members or anything related to the loss. You may pretend you are fine and everything is good.
- Anger – Out of nowhere, there appears an explosion of anger. You may scream at people, blame others for little things, become angry at yourself; the bottled up feelings are finally expressed. Allow yourself to be angry, it is okay!
- Bargaining – This is where you try to find some answers or causes for the loved one’s death. You blame others and even yourself for the loss. If only, you could have, I could have, I should have, you should have, why didn’t I, why didn’t you, how come or why didn’t the loved one are the questions you will express when you try to make sense of your loss. You get angry with God, feeling He should have stopped this from happening. Regrets surface during this stage. You want to undo or fix what happened.
- Depression – You may feel like you are in a deep pit of darkness and there is no way out. You may feel like you are in your own coffin of hopelessness, despair, and sadness. You feel stuck as if this is where you will be forever. During this time, many think of dying too or ending their life. Praying for a loved one, being there for them, rather than criticizing or being angry with them is crucial during this stage.
- Testing – You may come to realize you can’t survive if you remain in the depression so you look outside of yourself for help. You open the door of your heart and reach out to family, friends, counselors, pastors, or those who you feel could provide some relief.
- Acceptance – You come to the realization that the person or pet you loved is gone forever and they will no longer be a part of your present life. Here is where you are ready and willing to say the words, “Good-bye for now or I will see you again later, but for now I will cherish the memories we shared together.”
When I went through the loss of my father and mother, Jesus held me tight during those painful months. I cried in His arms as He rocked me to sleep many dark and painful nights. Finally, when I came to the stage of acceptance, I wrote them a letter. I shared my joys, happiness, disappointments, regrets, and pains in our relationship. I asked them to forgive me and I chose to forgive them for not meeting my needs as their daughter and the things I longed for from my parents. When I completed my letters, I said to my father and mother good-bye, because I knew my mother loved Jesus and had given her heart to Him. My final words were “I love you Mama and I will see you when I get home to Heaven.” Acceptance is the stage when the healing begins. The scar is finally able to heal when we are ready to say ‘Good-bye.’ This process can take months and even years. Grief has its ebbs and flows and tears will come and go; sometimes out of nowhere. We must allow ourselves to go through the pain so that we can heal. Jesus can heal the pain as if it never happened and leave us with the memories if we let Him; here is why.
JESUS A MAN OF SORROWS AND GRIEF
Isaiah 53: 3-4 (Amplified)
He (Jesus) was despised and rejected by men
A Man of Sorrows and Pain and Acquainted with Grief
And like One from whom men hide their faces
He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or esteem Him.
But [in fact] He has borne our griefs,
And He has carried our sorrows and pains;
Yet we [ignorantly] assumed that He was stricken,
Struck down by God and degraded and humiliated [by Him].
Before time began, our Lord saw through the corridors of time, how the disobedience of Adam would so tragically impact the human race. Adam gave his authority to rule the earth to Satan when he chose to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, forbidden by His Father. Our Lord chose to come into our darkness and chaos to experience the overwhelming sense of helplessness we feel as human beings to restore mankind back to His rightful authority and loving relationship with our Father. While our Lord Jesus was in this world, as a man, He experienced pain, anguish, affliction, death of a friend, loss, the anxieties and fears of His closest friends, oppression of people in society, and calamity everywhere. He encountered sickness and disease, wars, killings, the suicide of His disciple, Judas, murders, persecution, abuse, rejection, and destruction during His lifetime.
John 16:33 – BUT… Be of good courage because I have conquered the pain of it for you so you won’t have to bear it. I WILL BEAR IT FOR YOU! I have prevailed over all the darkness that will hold you captive. I overcame them all for you so that I WILL BE THAT HEALING PLACE WITHIN YOU:
- To lay your weary head upon
- To share all your pains and struggles with
- To find peace in the midst of the chaos all around you and within you
- To ease your troubled mind
- To experience comfort to your broken heart
- To be your wisdom and light through the darkness
- To enjoy REST for your anxious and fearful soul.
When we give our hearts to Jesus Christ, He comes to live within us. He is touched by every feeling we feel and every thought we think. He IS OUR COMFORTER, CONSOLER, AND RESTING PLACE for our souls, so turn inwardly to Him.