Weeping may endure for a night ..but joy comes in the morning.
Grief is universal. At some point in everyone’s life, there will be at least one encounter with grief. It may be from the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, loss of a limb or a part of one’s body, a child born with a life threatening condition or any other change that alters life as we know it. Some of the common symptoms of grief include crying, headaches, difficulty sleeping, questioning the purpose of life and one’s spiritual beliefs, feelings of detachment and isolation from friends and family, worry and anxiety, loss of appetite, guilt and so many others.
It is also personal. Not very neat or linear and doesn’t follow timelines or schedules or reaction. One may cry, become angry or withdrawn. One may take a short time to get over the pain, others longer.
However differently it may manifest, psychologists have attempted to define it in stages using common reactions and feelings experienced.
The stages are;
a) Denial: it is the stage that helps one survive the loss. Life makes no sense, has no meaning and is too overwhelming. One denies the news and in effect goes in shock and numbness because the life they once knew has changed in an instant. There is physical distress or somatic symptoms. Uncontrollable shaking, dizziness, faint, sight blurring or inability to talk, extreme cold or a fever and the list goes on. Interestingly, according to psychologists, it is the denial and shock that helps one cope and survive the grief event. It aids in pacing feelings of grief and instead of getting completely overwhelmed with grief, stagger its full impact on us at one time. In the denial stage, one is not in the ‘actual reality’ but the ‘preferable reality.’
b) Anger or wishful thinking. At this point one is no longer in the preferred reality but actual. Thoughts such as, ‘why me?’ ‘Where is God?’ ‘Why didn’t someone older die?’ ‘I wish I had stayed with them longer’
c) Bargaining: One can start to make a deal with God. ‘If you bring my spouse back I will be a better husband or wife’ or ‘a better parent’ in the case of loss of a child. ‘If you change this, I will change that!’ A desperate hope to get life back to how it was before the grief event. It is also called the ‘what if’ stage. ‘What if we had discovered the cancer earlier?’ ‘What if I had called that evening?
d) Depression: A commonly accepted form of grief. In this stage one might withdraw from life, feel numb, live in a fog, fail to get out of bed or concentrate on any activity, job or studies. One doesn’t want to be around others, attending social events or others might even experience suicidal thoughts.
e) Acceptance. This is the final stage. Emotions start to stabilize. You re — enter reality and come to terms with the fact that the loved one may never come back or you may never regain the use of the limbs or will never have it because it is amputated. A time of adjustment and readjustment. There will be good and bad days but the good will outnumber the bad. The fog lifts, you start to make new friends if it was a lost relationship or understand the loved one can never be replaced but you move, grow and embrace the new reality.
A little advice from one who has walked the road;
Ø Don’t toughen. It is normal, natural and human to cry when a loved one departs from this world.
Ø On the other hand, don’t sorrow exceedingly. I know this may be the hardest but it has to be done. Grieve with the knowledge that God sees each tear that falls. He knows the pain. Remember Psalm 34:18. The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. He will save you.
Ø Talk to God. Grief lodges in the deepest deep of our soul. Only the great physician, the healing balm of Gilead can reach such depths. It may also help to talk to a friend, parent, spouse, psychiatrist or whoever you are comfortable with, about your feelings and inability to overcome.
Ø Remove expectations: There is no standard time nor way for grieving and healing. Your pain is unique to you, your relationship to the person you lost was unique and the emotional processing different for each person. Remove any expectation of how you should be performing as you process your grief. Grieving is an individual emotion. There will be times when one thinks they have gone over the worst then the taps burst open once again. It will ebb and flow like the ocean tide. It will recede and go so far away from the horizon only to come back with such ferocity and your thinking is; I thought I had overcome this. There is no shame.
Ø Enjoy the beauty around you. The sunrise, the rain drops, relations like spouses, siblings or children. Remember some depend on your being well for their own wellbeing, especially children.
Ø Strengthen yourself in the Lord. It may seem impossible but you are well able. Others have walked this valley and emerged victorious. You will victor again. You will smile again.
Ø Remember God is the father to the fatherless, husband to the widow and a friend who stays closer than a brother. He is a very present help in time of need. He cares. He will carry you through. He will heal the broken heart and bind the wounds. Jeremiah 30:17 He declares,” but I will restore you to health and heal your wounds”.
Ø Finally, we have the blessed hope. We will see them again. A time is coming when there will be no sorrow and every tear wiped away. Better still, this enemy called death will be cast into the lake of fire.
It is six years since dad passed on but I thank God the pain is gone. Yes, I do remember him and sometimes shed a tear but my heavenly father reached down in my despair. When I couldn’t help or rescue myself. He pulled my feet out of the miry clay and placed them on a rock to stay. Now I can sing and dance again.
And the hair grew again.