Grief Is A Process

About four years ago, the husband of a friend of mine was placed into a care facility due to the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Sometimes this disease progresses slowly and individuals can be cared for at home for a long period of time. Other times it progresses very rapidly and in this instance, it was only a few months before my friend had no other option but to place him in a facility where he could receive round-the-clock care.

My friend and her daughter, who both attend my church, live less than three miles away from me. Since my friend does not drive, it was not unusual for me to pick her up and take her places if her daughter or other family members were unable to do so. Over the past few years our friendship has grown even stronger.

I was at the hospital sitting beside my friend when she was told that they were unable to stop the infection that had invaded his foot a few weeks earlier. I held her hand when she made the difficult decision in regards to hospice and after the meeting held her as she wept. There was nothing more to do except pray and try to make him as comfortable as possible.

After dinner in early September, I felt prompted to give her a call to see how her husband was doing. She had been told that the end would not be long. Her daughter was a mess at the moment and could we please come? Of course we could and we spent several hours there just letting the daughter talk about her grief.

We hadn't been asleep long when the phone rang. It was my friend. Her husband was gone and could I please, please come? She needed me. Of course I would! My husband had to get up in about four hours to go to work but I could come and so I headed off into the night once again.

The stress and strain of the past four years came tumbling down upon my friend and her daughter in addition to their grief. Everything they had repressed in trying to simply function has rushed to the surface. Neither one is able to work at the moment as they try to deal with all of the pent-up emotions that have now been let loose.

The other day, the daughter posted her feelings on Facebook. She misses her father. He was a Christian and she knows that she will see him again but in the here and now, her heart is aching and she longs to see him righ now.

A well-meaning friend tried to cheer her up by telling her not to be sad. She would see him again and she should think happy thoughts and not dwell on the past. The person meant well but it was the wrong advice. We want to cheer people up, we want to fix things but we need to remember that grief is a process. Healing cannot come if we repress our grief and healing takes time.

Is there such a thing as unhealthy grief? Yes there is. There are people who don't just experience grief; they nurse it for the rest of their lives. However, we must remember that it takes a long time for grief to heal and it will always leave scars. It is perfectly normal to still be grieving the loss of a loved one a year or more later as you try to move on with life. In my post I said that. I mentioned that even though it has been 38 years, there are still times when I will suddenly think about my dad and grieve over the fact that our time together in this world was so short. I still miss him and I always will until that day that we stand together before God.

So what do we do when someone we care about is grieving? Well, first of all we do not tell them everything will be okay because it is not at the moment. Second, we don't say dumb things like, "Don't cry." Tears are healing and if they are flowing, they need to flow. Third, don't tell someone that the person is in a better place. At the moment, they don't care abot that. They miss them and they want them here. If the person begins to talk about being glad that their loved one is no longer suffering and that they are thankful they will see them again, then it is fine to follow suit by listening and affirming that what they are saying is true.

Finally, and this is the most important thing of all, pray and listen. Pray that God will give you wisdom to help someone go through the grieving process. Pray that God directs your actions and words and pray that He gives them comfort and strength.

It takes time. It takes time to heal and grief is a natural part of that process.

Blessings!

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Beth M @blest ·

Very sound advice

I have heard that the typical grieving time after the death of a spouse is 7 years. My friend Rick, whom you have met, who lost his wife, my friend Debra, 4 and a half years ago, says that may be right. He absolutely still grieves. He says it IS getting better, but in no way is he "all better". You will never be ALL better, but "it" does get better.

Usually, no words are the best words.

Deborah Pinnell @dpinnell5 ·

You don't get over it, you get through it. Grief is a journey; a walk through the valley of the shadow of death as I call it. The key is to keep walking. There is a shadow, a sadness that is cast over most everything in the beginning. With time there are burst of light enough to see that you do not walk alone. Grief is different for everyone. There are no set rules or stages. Thank you for sharing.

Deborah Pinnell @dpinnell5 ·

You don't get over it, you get through it. Grief is a journey; a walk through the valley of the shadow of death as I call it. The key is to keep walking. There is a shadow, a sadness that is cast over most everything in the beginning. With time there are burst of light enough to see that you do not walk alone. Grief is different for everyone. There are no set rules or stages. Thank you for sharing.