I truly believe that the real experts on grief are people who have survived the loss of a loved one or loved ones and then seek to help others who have similar experiences. Unfortunately, I am one such person. When I was 25 years old I lost my 5-year-old Son, Denny Jr., to leukemia on the morning of 25 December 1967. Yes, Christmas morning. Five years later my father, Leo, died of a massive heart attack at the age of 52. He essentially missed my entire adult life as well as his grandchildren’s. I have dearly missed him. Recently, on August 4, 2012 my wife, Mickey, passed in my arms. A sister-in-law said, “it doesn’t get any better than that”. Mickey had a very painful bout with bone cancer which eventually ended her life at age 64.
This statue is called Melancolie and was created by Albert György. Some have referred to the statue as Emptiness. This is a powerful image of what it feels like to lose a loved one. The emptiness doesn't really go away and, I have found, with Jesus by your side you just learn to live with it.
I often wonder why some of us live so long and then some of us don’t live long enough. I often wonder why God has given me so many years of life? Is there something I am supposed to do with my life that I haven’t quite done or figured out? What is my life’s mission? In a way, I consider myself an expert on grief, all be it a broken-hearted expert. Maybe helping people journey through the loss of their loved one is part of my life’s mission.
There are many ways I figure I can help people through the grief process and writing some of my thoughts down seems like a good place to start. So here goes, my little perspective on grief which is a very first step on helping people journey through the loss of a loved one.
1. Keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or
loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.
2. a cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow.
Grief…is a process that no one will escape from experiencing. If you have the capacity to love; you have the capacity to grieve the loss of that love. The greater the love the greater the mourning over the loss of that love. Everyone who has loved someone and has lost them will experience grief at one time or another.
Grief…doesn’t come with a stopwatch. There is no set beginning nor set ending; grief begins and ends when it’s time to begin and end.
Grief…takes time. Grief’s time is different for everyone because everyone is different.
Grief…sadness, the opposite of joy.
Grief…this too will pass. One must remember this.
Grief…remembering the good times is especially good. Forgetting is not the way to deal with grief.
Grief…shared is grief soothed.
Grief…can trigger guilt.
Grief…has stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They are real and you must live through them. You must experience them. You must recognize them. You do not have to do them alone. Don’t do them alone.
Grief…can start with denying your loss and last until reality sets in.
Grief…is the personal struggle between letting go and holding on.
Grief…is a difficult guide.
Grief…can trigger anger which can mask the deeper emotions of sadness, fear, anxiety and despair.
Grief…leads one to bargaining. What could you have done differently? The answer more often than not is nothing. Your loss happened. Period.
Grief…how can you not be depressed or have feelings of sadness, low energy or loss of interest in activities that you normally undertake? You can’t let the sadness consume your life. You have to fight that feeling and get out of bed in the morning and do something. As a matter of fact, if you get out of bed and then make your bed, you will have accomplished two things. That’s a good start to the day.
Grief…the greatest thing you can do for the loss of your loved one is to accept that fact and move on with your life including forming new relationships minus the guilt of accepting life without him or her. Accepting new relationships doesn’t mean you no longer miss your loved one.
Grief…can induce one to be more in tuned with coincidences, messages and signs which are those strange real-life occurrences that can only be explained by some divine intervention and that lets one know that their loved ones are well and nearby. Godwink!
Grief…the pain of it is not an end but a doorway. Sometimes the pain of it is so intense that you do not know that there is a doorway, but there is. You can’t go around the pain nor can you go over it or under it. The only way is through it. You must go through pain and then on to newness that the other side of the doorway brings.
Grief…sometimes makes friends and family tongue tied and stuck in the mud. They just don’t know what to say or what to do. You need to forgive them their awkwardness in what they say or don’t say and in what they do or don’t do.
Grief…has a mourning component that some people fail to engage themselves in and they wind up mourning the fact that they never mourned the loss of their loved one. They never cried, never felt sad, never felt anything. It eventually catches up to them. “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Remember that Beatitude.
I struggled with posting this blog on Grief during the Christmas season, but I decided to go for it because to many people Christmas is an especially difficult time to process the loss of your loved one. Remember, you are not alone; your family, friends and Jesus is with you.
 Come to me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.  Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.  For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.