My brother succumbed to Parkinson’s disease a few months ago. Living across the world from him left me unable to attend his funeral. Intellectually I had anticipated his death. Initially I was emotionally unable to even respond to any acts of support around my grief. When I was offered support I was repeatedly unwilling to talk about it as “that drawer is closed.” “That drawer” personally meant the grief certainly existed and was closed due to my personal inability to express its magnitude in that moment. It plain hurt. Hurt to the deepest core of my being. God has endless compassion for the hurt! I felt deeply in gratitude to the one Pastor who simply remained with me and listened.
A week after the loss of my brother I sat with a single mother who lost her son to a drug overdose (incidentally the same day when my brother died). Her open grief as the gasket was wheeled away was heart-wrenching to observe and experience. My grief for my brother was set aside in that moment. She needed support. In stunned silence, I further realized how easily and unexpectedly life-altering events transpire. My grief "drawer" was opened again later that day in my own emotional response in the privacy of my home.
If you are experiencing or the observer of someone else's grief, please simply listen and hear the perspective of the person in pain! “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
In the book "Counselling for Grief and Bereavement", (Humphrey Geraldine M., Zimpfer, David G., SAGE Publications Inc., Thousand Oaks, California, 2008) outline these stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.
“Denial” of the hurt I was feeling was simply delaying the inevitable. Denying the reality may be waiting until the right person, situation and frame of mind exists to grieve. My own words regarding the passing of my brother attempted to push others away. Yet there was a part of me that needed to be listened to; carefully and with much patience.
“Anger” of the deaths’ inevitable pain and loss is a reality for us all. Initially, I was upset my brother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I felt upset for not being told sooner. There was the utter feeling of helplessness, for there truly was nothing I could do to stop the process. Due to his combination and complex diagnosis, the speed in which he deteriorated forced us all to realize the inevitability of death.
"Bargaining” Next I tried to bargain with his wife about his treatment; whether there was anything anyone could do to no avail. The time to replay events had passed without my personal say so. Replaying is crucial and is a stage of grief which needs to be lived through and processed to allow healing to occur.
Perhaps you are or have been there. It plain hurts. The Lord is indeed the Lord of the storms you face. Perhaps you keep trying to find better ways, avenues, medication or money. Maybe it isn’t about death for you, perhaps it is about ending something crucially important for you. Perhaps a relationship, a marriage, an engagement, separation/divorce or even a loss of a job, a career or a dream? A loss of a pet can push you in a place of grief. Most importantly and crucially: Grief can last a life-time when there is no resolution. It’s a circular road without an exit.
Please find someone; a counsellor, a support group or a friend who is able to listen and validate your journey without judgement.
“Depression” is another stage. You can surpass a stage, go backward, forward or sideways in any which way you want, as there is no linear path to follow in grief. Depression is the stage of being ready to grieve for the loss. Depression is akin to going to a deep, dark tunnel of emptiness and nothingness (as my clients have described it). Validating the experience is crucial for the person in pain.
“Acceptance” is the last stage of grief. I looked at the last photos I took of him (my brother) last year and burst out in tears. As I stared at his obviously pain-riddled existence I can now see the path we followed much more clearly. You see, the path we followed was the one we all had to choose. Death or an ending hurts. Joshua 1:9 states “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged for the Lord will be with you wherever you go.” It is difficult.
It is difficult to accept the inevitability of a loss. Letting the grieving person take the lead or allowing yourself to remember. Talking about and memorizing past rituals allows you to commemorate the past in an honorable fashion. Grief itself can allow growth in you. What this means in this stage was that it was the hardest issue you have faced. You somehow survived, continued to hold onto life and have become a stronger person in the process. Bless your perseverance! God remains the Lord of the storm. Lean on Him with all your might and you will survive and conquer it!
If you would like someone to talk further with regarding your own issues with grief, please message me.