Monday, June 28, 2010


You may wonder why I’d write on grieving, but it’s been on my heart for a couple of weeks now. It’s not something fun to talk about but happens to us at some time or another in our lives.
Grief comes in many forms. I’ve experienced grief. The definition of grief is a keen mental suffering, distress over an affliction or loss; painful regret, sorrow, and suffering disappointment.

The first time I experienced real grief was the breakup of my boyfriend and I. He dumped me for another girl and it broke my heart. I cried what seemed a river of tears.

I remember when my grandmother died; my husband, Keith and I had only been married a little over a month. She had a stroke and went into a coma and I never got to say good-bye. The last time I spoke with her was on my wedding day.

Grandma Browning and I were very close. I grieved her passing for a long time. I use to spend a lot of summers with her as a little girl and through my teenage years. She used to make all my clothes as a young girl and take me to church with her. There were many special times we shared.

When our family pet Cecil died that was a hard time. He had been a wonderful cat. We all grieved over his loss, especially our girls.

The day that both of our girls left for college at the same time….I grieved. I felt I was in mourning because they both were gone and I felt my days of being mom were over. Going into their bedrooms and looking at all their things I would cry. That was a difficult and very real time of sadness for me.

Letting them go and trusting that God would take care of them was hard. As mom’s we want to “fix” everything and everyone. Knowing they were several hours away and not under our roof I felt a loss.

Last summer my father in law became very ill and Keith rushed to be by his side. The girls and I made the trip separately so that we could be with their papa. We’re so thankful that we had extra time to be with him, but he passed away a few months later.

We've all grieved in our own ways. I’ve seen our girls grieve for their papa. It can be a memory or something that reminds them of the loss that he is gone for now. Just out of nowhere the tears and sadness can come.

As Christians we believe that we will see Papa and Grandma Browning and all those loved ones that have gone on before us. It will be a wonderful time in heaven to be with them again!

Good friends of ours recently loss their son of only 33 years. I’ve gotten a glimpse of how they’ve struggled with their loss. It brings comfort to them to know that their son is with the Lord and through that God is bringing healing to their hearts through the love of their friends, family and God’s word.

There are other times in my life I’ve grieved….for loss of friends or folks that have chosen not to be a part of my life anymore, or have moved on. Being in pastoral ministry we experience this quite often. At times, you just don’t want to put yourself out there and be vulnerable because you feel that you will be hurt and abandoned once again.

I’m learning to embrace what TD Jakes says about “Letting Go.” It’s hard to let go, but we must so that we’re not hindered from doing what God wants in our lives. The scripture says we see through a glass darkly, we can’t see the whole picture, but God does.
1 Corinthians 13:12 (New International Version)
12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

I trust that indeed He will work all things together for our good and that He is faithful to complete that good thing He has begun in us!
Philippians 1:6 (New International Version)
6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It’s natural to grieve; even Jesus wept and grieved the loss of his good friend Lazarus. He knows our hurts and our pain.
John 11:32 – 35,
32When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."
33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping; he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34"Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. 35Jesus wept.

Below are five steps to grieving by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Prayerfully, if you aren’t aware of these they will be helpful to you in your steps of grieving.

The Five Stages of the Grief

Grief can occur as the result of a number of different events – someone we know dies, a relationship ends, we lose a pet, we have to give up a long held goal in our life, or any other number of situations. But there is one common denominator in all of these events, and that is loss. Grief is a process of physical, emotional, social, and cognitive reactions to loss. The grieving process is often a hard one to work through. It requires patience with ourselves and with others.

Although responses to loss are as diverse as the people experiencing it, patterns or stages that are commonly experienced have emerged.

These stages were identified and named by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Knowing these five stages can sometimes help in coping with the process of grief and recognizing that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It should be noted that although most people experience all of the following stages, they do not experience them with the same duration, or in the same order, or with the same intensity. It is a very unique process.

Denial is generally the first stage in the grief process. It can be experienced as numbness or avoidance or isolation or direct denial. It is a stage in which we just cannot believe that the loss is true. We may tell ourselves that it did not really happen. It does not seem real.

Another stage of grief is anger. At this point, we have gotten past some or all of the denial, but now we are angry about the loss. We may want to take it out on something or someone, or we may just express our anger in ways that are familiar to us.

In the bargaining stage, we are trying to come up with ways to get back what we lost or just find someone or something to blame. Common thoughts include "If only I had just …." or "I wish we could have…." or "Maybe if I do this…." In the case of a lost relationship, we might actually bargain with the person we lost in an effort to get them back. "If I change my behavior, will you come back?"

The depression stage is just as it sounds, a time of sadness. It generally follows denial, anger, and bargaining when we feel helpless and hopeless to stop the loss. It may include crying, withdrawal, or any other way that expresses sadness.

The final stage is acceptance. Most often we have gone through all of the above stages and in many cases cycled through the above stages more than once before getting to acceptance. At this stage, we have (to some extent) reorganized ourselves and our thinking to incorporate the loss. This does not mean that we no longer get sad about the loss from time to time, but the sadness is now a part of us and does not keep us from functioning normally most of the time. Over time, the intensity of the sadness generally diminishes, but may never entirely go away.

Armed with the knowledge of these five stages, we can now better understand ourselves and others who are going through the grief process. Recognizing the stages can increase your empathy and support for others and provide permission for yourself to go through the process in your own way and in your own time.

©2000 Lori Godin, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She can be reached in San Jose, California, at 408.260.9996.

Love & Hugs,

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