Dear Loved One,
John Brantner said something worthy of mentioning, "Only those who avoid love can avoid grief. The point is to learn from grief, and remain vulnerable to love."
Picture a person who is following that yellow brick road to a destination that he or she longs to arrive. But along that road are detours that sidetrack one them from their intended goal. It's not unusual for people to chart their own course in grief. Throughout the centuries many people have dealt with their grief on their own terms. However, for the inexperienced, there are many pitfalls to surviving personal grief.
Anne Rosberger, executive director of The Bereavement and Loss Center of New York has said, "I don't think most people are aware of the extent of the trauma...it's mental, it's emotional, it's physical, and it's your whole being." Until one experiences the loss of a loved one, it's difficult to understand how horrific that loss is! It doesn't matter whether that loss is expected or unexpected; it still is a life-shattering moment that can and often does affect the course of our future!
There are some basic steps you can take when your world falls apart:
1. Give yourself the grace to be whoever you need to be at that moment. You don't have to be the strong person that everyone thinks you are! If you need sleep, sleep! Need a good cry, cry! Take care of your body. Consider what might help you to feel better: a certain food, a hot bath, healing Christian music? Treat yourself, pamper yourself.
2. Seek out your best support system. Maybe it's a support group at your church. Perhaps the companionship of a good Christian friend is the best thing for you right now
3. Make your priorities. If certain situations are certain to create deeper sorrow for you, avoid them. Learn how to say, "No," when you need to. Set boundaries.
4. Learn how to forgive yourself. Don't play the "what if" game. Psalm 139 says that God already knows when the day of some one's death is. Don't beat yourself up, wondering if you could have done more. God would have shown it to you if He wanted to extend your loved one's life.
5. Along with that thought, get rid of imagined guilt. It's so easy to observe things after the fact. You don't know what the other path might have produced. It could have been worse. Give God credit for leading you in the right direction.
6. Be gentle with your "why" questions. Job had a lot of "why" questions but they never got answered the way he wanted them answered. Instead God went to the other "W" word, "who." Who is in charge, who created the universe, who among us really knows what they're doing and why?
7. Put off major decisions for awhile. Before selling a house, changing careers, etc., wait. It's never good to make major decisions when you're in the midst of an emotional upheaval.
God bless you, Don
- To move from numbness to successful restructuring.
- To honor the place of what has been lost.
- To create new patterns of action independent of the loss
- To link hope with action.
- Realize that the pain can be survived.
- Resentment can be transformed in to gratitude.
- Spiritual fatigue is not spiritual failure.
- Build relaxation into your day. Even if you can’t sleep, set aside some time to rest.
- Simplify your life. Eliminate tasks that don’t have to be done right now. Avoid perfectionism.
- Exercise. Sustained exercise relaxes the muscle and allows naturally, God-given chemicals to relieve stress.
- Walk away from stresses. Avoid high pressure situations, leave the room if you must, take a walk.
- Limit opportunities for family conflict. Recognize that this is a difficult time for all family members, and give each other space and support.
- Schedule at least one enjoyable activity into each day.
- Don’t set yourself up for a bad fall. Minimize your exposure to anxiety provoking situations.
- Make small goals and don’t worry if you don’t reach them all. Sometimes, living moment to moment, or one day at a time is the rule of thumb.
- Give yourself permission to backslide. At times you may find yourself slipping back into the old feelings of extreme sadness, despair, or anger. These are natural episodes.
- Give yourself permission to change your mind. Be sure to let people know you may need room to cancel or change your mind regarding a special function, event, etc.
- Be prepared and proactive when approaching special days such as anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, etc. Make plans for that day. They don’t have to be your usual plans.