Becky Says...

2000-07-14

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Thoughts on Grief

Today I'm sad, and tired. I've cried till I have a headache from it. And I will cry more before this grief eases.

I was looking for a quotation last night, to share with those mourning Debbie. I decided to quit the search, because nearly everything I found instructed people to weep no more, which is not the sentiment I want to convey. I'm in favor of shedding tears when things hurt. Tears are healing. They have a way of washing away some of the sadness, and allowing moments of joy to surface and be seen with great clarity.

This recent loss has caused me to think back over the grieving process in depth, which I haven't done for a couple of years. I had written a letter then, to a friend who was grieving, and who was surprised at the strength of the grief. Writing that letter helped me clarify the thoughts that I've had about the subject over the years.

Grief is intensely personal. Every one of us experiences it differently. But there are some close-to-universals about it that seem to be true for most in grief.

Never be embarrassed about grief. It is human, and comes to us all. There is no one day when you should be over a loss. Grief will ease, but in its time.

Grief is work. It is tiring, and requires lots of energy. That's one reason you need to go ahead and try to eat, even if you're not hungry; and rest, even if sleep is elusive.

A very real factor of grief is anger. Anger at the person whose not being there caused the grief (doesn't matter why the person is gone), anger at God, anger at yourself, and anger at whatever. This is sometimes surprisingly strong. But it is normal and healthy.

Grief is also a sneaky think. Just when you think it has eased, and you'll have a "normal" day, something comes along that makes grief kick in. You run across something that reminds you of your loss, and it's as though you've been slapped. This is also normal, and to be expected. And don't forget this frequently happens on anniversaries.

And what should you do if it's not your grief, but that of someone you care about? Easy. Tell the person you're sorry for their loss. Don't worry about perhaps having a lack of eloquence. Practice the "ministry of presence." Be there. Be open to allowing the grieving person to talk about the loss. And it's okay if you say something that brings tears. But also be willing to be present in silence. Sometimes that's the hardest gift to give.

* * * * * * * * * * *

I would like to express appreciation to all who have sent condolences at the loss of my friend. I have taken much solace from them, and have collected them to share with her family.

Text copyright 2000 Becky