There are many types of loss and grief. Most of the time people think of loss in terms of losing a loved one through death. That is a major loss, but we suffer grief at other types of loss as well. We may suffer loss and grief when we lose a job or change jobs. We may suffer loss and grief as we age. We may suffer loss and grief after a romantic breakup or marital divorce. We may even suffer loss and grief due to children growing up, losing pets, or moving to a new home or a new city.
I’ve gone through loss and grief periods in all of the ways that I listed above. None of them are easy and none should be made light of just because someone else has never dealt with that kind of loss. Your loss and you grief is valid if for you it is impacting your daily life. What do we do with loss and grief?
There are no magical “abracadabra” ways to remove loss and grief from our lives because they are a part of our lives that we can’t escape from. I don’t know anyone who has never experienced loss and grief in some way. Since there is no magical way to just make it go away, we must find ways to deal with our loss and grief so we are able to go on with our daily lives, meeting our responsibilities and letting those around us know we love them and need their presence and care during this difficult time.
Some healthy ways to deal with loss and grief include journaling each day to describe your feelings and thoughts. If you miss someone, you might write them a letter in your journal to express that. If you’re feeling particularly sad one day, you might journal about those feelings as well. You can even write prayers and gratitudes in your journal as your journey through this time of grief and loss.
For people of faith, prayer and meditation are often very comforting during this difficult time. Many times we get angry at God for our loss, particularly if we’ve lost someone to death. We don’t want to talk to Him because we’re afraid we’ll lose our temper and say things that will make God mad at us. I have shocking news for you. God can take it! He knows we get hurt, angry and upset with Him. He would much rather hear our true feelings toward Him than for us to remain silent and cut ourselves off from our relationship to Him. There are many examples of people getting angry at God in the Bible and God answering that anger with love and grace. A perfect example of this can be found in Jonah, chapter four. Jonah was angry at God in that instance because of God’s compassion on the nation of Nineveh. How did God respond to that anger? He caused a tree to grow up over Jonah where he sat pouting angrily at God so Jonah would be in the shade!
Sometimes we are surprised by loss and grief and often those are our darkest hours. My first experience with this was when my brother, Joe, was killed in a car accident on Christmas Eve many years ago. I was shocked, heartbroken, and so stunned at first that I was completely numb. I walked around in a fog, going through the motions of grief, but knowing my grief was so profound that if I let it escape, I might not survive. I had two baby sons at the time and also knew that I could not remain in this numb state of grief because they needed me. I still had a responsibility towards them to not just take care of their basic needs, but to love them and nurture them. How could I do that when I hurt so very much? Well, I prayed first. I cried over and over, “God, how could you let this happen? Why Joe? Why did he have to die in such a horrible way? Where were you when it happened?”
I received no immediate answers. I was met with silence. Then, and this may sound like an odd way to deal with grief, but I watched a Cary Grant marathon of movies all day on New Year’s day, mostly by myself. (Cary Grant had died the same year my brother did, hence the marathon.) I sat in front of that television and watched movie after movie. I cried, I laughed, I cried some more. I got lost in some of the movies and forgot my grief for some moments. Some of the movies brought the grief back so freshly I was sure my heart must be bleeding inside. Finally, at the end of the day, my emotional well was completely empty. I had cried myself out. The next day I got up and took care of my family. I still had grief over my loss, but I had expressed it so thoroughly, I felt cleansed of the deepest parts. Over the years, that grief has resurfaced many times. I still miss my brother. I can’t wait to see him again in heaven, but today I can deal with it. It has been 29 years since I lost my brother. I still don’t know why he was taken home early, but I do know that our love endures somehow. I know I still love him and? that he still loves me. In that way, he is always with me. This eases my grief immensely.
How do you deal with grief? Do you push it down inside and try to ignore it? Do you get angry and take it out on family and friends? Have you allowed it to take over your life so you’re stuck in it and can’t seem to find a way out of it? If so, let me assure you there are healthy ways to get unstuck. I wouldn’t recommend a Cary Grant movie marathon, but there are ways to deal with your grief and continue forward on your journey. There may even be times when you remember the love that you shared with that person and feel joy.
May God bless you on your journey, Elaine