A More Realistic View of Grief

Gratitude Day 249

Fri., Apr. 12, 2019

Psalm 119:28 – My spirit sags because of grief. Now raise me up according to your promise!

Much of what we discover, we already know. We just need to remember it.

stages of griefWhen I recently saw this picture of grief, this is exactly how my soul felt. I’ve seen this diagram multiple times before. But maybe, I just needed to see it again today. And remember that grief is rarely linear, logical or predictable. No, most often, grief feels like one hot mess. Our hot mess.

When we think of grief, we most often associate grief with the death of a loved one. This is a very real grief situation. But grief can happen a million other ways. Just a few of those possibilities:

  • Loss or change of a job
  • Significant other’s job situation changes
  • Geographical move
  • Moving into a different living situation
  • A significant health issue for you
  • A significant health issue for a loved one
  • An addition to the family
  • When someone moves out of your house
  • Death of a pet
  • The seasons
  • Change in financial situation
  • Change in status with a person who is important to you
  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Change in weight
  • Feeling let down by someone
  • Loosing or letting go of an item of value to you

And yes, about a million more.

While we may promote a change in our lives and even think it’s a great idea, grief can still be part of the process. Any time there is a “change” in our lives, the real possibility of letting go of something can put us into a tailspin of grief.

Grief is tricky. Some days, we think we can handle it. The next day? Not so much. Even the anticipation of a significant change in our lives can begin the grief process. (Think – knowing a child will be moving away, going to college, etc.)

While most people like to think we are strong and can handle grief, sometimes, we can’t. Sometimes, grief is simply overwhelming. And then, the line goes crazy in every direction, except a seemingly helpful direction.

If you are experiencing grief about something big or small right now, what are you to do? I don’t have all the answers to grief, but I just share a few things to ponder.

  1. Recognize and realize that you are grieving. Let yourself be sad. Disappointed. Let down. If you don’t acknowledge there is grief, you won’t be able to deal with it in a helpful or constructive way.
  2. Grief affects people differently, even if you are going through the grief situation. Spouses, family members, siblings will respond to how they feel in very different ways. Some ways maybe more constructive than others. It’s difficult to watch a loved one turn to unhealthy modes of dealing with grief. Sometimes you can help them; sometimes you can’t.
  3. Give yourself a break. Allow for more self-care. Cut back on expectations of yourself and others. Grieving people need space to process, be sad and decompress. It can be easy to add things into your life to mask and hide the pain. Or bury it. Instead, choose to establish ways for you to experience and journey through the grief.
  4. Be OK with doing things differently. At times, we have such high expectations of ourselves and others. We “expect” ourselves to do something because “this is what we do.” It maybe difficult and painful to continue these things. It’s OK to switch it up and do something different. Create new memories and ways to look at life.
  5. Find a way to express your disappointment. Some people journal. (I know this isn’t for everyone.) Some find a dependable and non-judgmental friend. A trained professional can be very helpful. People need a safe place to let their thoughts and ideas get outside of their minds and bodies. Find a place to do this. Moving through grief takes time. Lots of time. There will be a step forward and lots of steps backwards. There will be moments of joy and hours of confusion.
  6. Lean upon grace. One reason why I believe Jesus died on the cross? So, we would know that God has experienced the ultimate grief of loosing a child. In this event, God has experienced every feeling of grief that we have. This can give us hope that we know a God who struggles with grief and disappointment and sadness as well.

Let your grief be messy. Let your grief be complicated. Let your grief help define who you are. And let hope guide you through it as well.

For understanding that grief can be messy, I am grateful.

Holy God – when we feel overwhelmed or confused or sad about something happening in our lives, may we remember that it’s OK. You are with us. You walk with us. You actually know how grief feels. Help us turn towards you in our struggles and disapointments. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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