Only two weeks ago, a madman went into a Sunday morning church service in a small church and murdered 26 people. He injured 20 more and left families forever altered.
Five short years ago on December 14, a gunman went into an elementary school and killed 20 young children, six adults and then himself.
Forty-three years ago on December 14, my husband’s sister, her husband and their youngest child died in a house fire.
Grief is not an option in our lives, it is a matter of when. No one is exempt from grief, grief and grieving is a guarantee in our life.
For many people, the holidays bring out sad memories and hard times. For them, the holiday is not an event to be happily anticipated. Many do not enter the holiday season joy-filled for any number of reasons: This may be the first holiday without a loved one, a loss of a job may have curtailed travel and the normal present giving, a move away from family can change plans, unexpected illness, and more.
But there is hope! I have learned that my God is Enough!
Grief, a response to loss or tragedy, hides in many forms, much more than could be listed here:
- loss of a child/miscarriage
- loss of job/financial security
- loss of home
- loss of a pet
- loss of your Dream
- loss of a friendship
- Death of a loved one
- Your pastor falls into sin
- Loss of security after tragedy/theft/physical harm
- Loss of physical objects
- Loss of/or never gaining, a relationship with God
Grief doesn’t have to be a huge catastrophic event in your life, it can also be hidden in the everyday life you live.
- A Favorite teacher goes on extended leave
- Your favorite jeans are discontinued
- A church fails to pay its mortgage
- A neighborhood school is closed due to lack of funds
Grief varies in intensity with each loss. Much depends on how close you were to the person or the situation. Close family members will experience grief at different intensities. Depending on the loss, there may be a sense of numbness in the beginning and then intense, unexpected feelings may happen at odd times. Intensity isn’t determined by the number of days since the loss. Grief is personal to you and you will have your own way of coping. Much depends on your personal history, your personality, your feelings, the suddenness or expectation of your loss.
I am not a professional, a doctor, or trained in counseling for grief victims. But I know how my history reads:
…the loss of important people, my sweet childhood as I became victim to a much older predator, our family home, and businesses. I have lost friends over the years either by death or moves. Our financial security was ripped away, lost many family pets over the years. From the year 2000 to 2010, my husband and I lost nine family members. Since 2010, we have lost our businesses and our family home.
And crazy as it may sound, both my husband and I find ourselves in a strange place of grief once more during this holiday season. As we have willfully chosen, happily, joyfully, expectantly, exuberantly, become Carpenter missionaries, serving our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we find ourselves in a strange sort of grieving at loss of Christmas traditions. While it is almost embarrassing to admit this, to even call if grief, we grieve nonetheless, for the past and the way things were. While this cannot be compared to any loss of family members or friends or jobs or finances, we recognize it as a grief.
Grief cannot nor should not be ignored.
I speak from past mistakes, trial, and error on the road to healing after the loss of any kind. I have experienced six different stages of grief, including:
- Denial: “No! This could not be happening!” or “No! Not them!”
- Anger: “No, no, no, not another!”
- Guilt: “Why God? Why? Why them and not me?”
- Bargaining: “I promise if you would….then I would….!” or “If only you will……then I promise to never……”
- Depression: Sadness, overwhelming sadness, loss of appetite, overeating, crying, uncontrolled crying, apathy, yelling at the wrong person, explosive anger, sleep or no sleep.
- Acceptance: “How will I live without them? I don’t know, but we will learn to keep them in our heart, if not in our arms.” or “I thought I would die if I lost my home, so now it’s happened and I only have to put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.”
There are steps to the healing, the hope of grief. Including:
First, recognize the myths we are told about grieving:
- Myth: grieving should only take a year. The TRUTH: grieving is different for everyone. There is no timetable to fit every person in every situation.
- Myth: acting strong will get me past the grief and I won’t need to hurt. the TRUTH: Acting strong doesn’t make me strong nor does it erase what happened. Grief will be there until it is dealt with.
- Myth: If you don’t cry means you don’t feel. The TRUTH: All of us cry at different times, sometimes alone and sometimes with others. Crying is good for the physical body but crying, less or more, doesn’t mean you loved less or more, nor does it mean you felt the loss more or less. Crying is your emotional outlet and maybe a personal expression of your grief.
- Myth: Ignore the grief and it will be as if it didn’t happen. The TRUTH: You can’t change the past.
Second, find support in your grieving process.
- Support groups serve a specific purpose, to help you with the grieving process, finding comfort and support. Find a specific group through your local hospital, church, county health department, or local paper. A grief support group can be an outlet to help you express yourself with people who know much of what you are going through.
- Counselor or therapists may help you work through the grief process also. There is no weakness is seeking help. By speaking with someone outside of your close circle, this person will listen and help you through the grieving process.
- Turn to God and allow Him to soothe the pain. Jesus knew grief as He walked this earth. His own friend, Lazarus died and He wept. He came upon a funeral of an only child of a woman and in His compassion stopped to help her. Jesus is always willing to help if you would call to Him.
- Friends or family may be experiencing the same grief you are. Often, the same loss is affecting them. Turn to each other, rely on each other. Allow yourself and each of them to experience the different stages of grief in a way personal to each.