Last week brought terror and heartache to people across our country, but our collective pain and grief are only a shadow of the pain and grief felt by victims whose lives were directly touched by the tragedies in Boston, MA and West, TX. My heart aches for each of these people and their families … for the way their lives have been forever changed and for the unbelievable pain they face over the next weeks, months, and years as they work through their grief and learn to accept (and adjust to) the changes inflicted on their lives because of their losses. When tragedy and grief devastate you, what do you do?
Archive for the ‘Effects of Grief’ Category
I will say, without a doubt, that grief is one of the most difficult experiences any of us will face in life. The idea of taking a break from grief does not in any way minimize or make light of its intense pain, effects, or significance. I recognize the deep and complex impact of grief that follows loss. In fact, its fierce and powerful characteristics are exactly why we need to take a break from grief.
The faces of grief are an ever-changing landscape unique to each person’s experience. Depending on where you are in the process, the face of your grief and the words you use to describe it will vary all over the map.
I doubt that anyone would argue with the statement, “Life is an ever-changing, developing story.” Stuff happens to us all the time. We find ourselves in different situations, sometimes unexpected. We meet new people. We go places, and we try new things.
Everything factors into the way we see ourselves and the world around us. We hardly notice certain things while others produce life-altering effects. That’s what I’m talking about here — the life-altering effects — and whatever creates them! So the question is: “What defines your life?”
You’re probably thinking, “I don’t even know what a ‘grief’ umbrella is”—and you’re asking me, “What color is your ‘grief’ umbrella?” Let’s work through this idea together …
Grief is a mystery and a shock when you first meet up with it. Nothing you’ve ever seen, read, or thought about grief prepares you for its reality. Just like death—when death steals someone you love away—a staggering realization hits your senses that your life has changed and it will never be the same again. That’s the way grief is, too. And when grief shows up, trust me, you’ll need ‘grief’ umbrellas.
Anything that gets in the way of healing from grief is a concern, but certain issues are especially critical, complex, explosive, or unpredictable. I describe these subjects as ‘flashpoint’ issues because they hold the power to block your path to healing, to derail your progress.
Everyone’s grief is uniquely his or her own. Each experience is different, just as each person, personality, past, circumstance, and everything about an individual is unique.
Sometimes, certain issue(s) override everything else as you face your loss—and these issues can become the rocks that block your progression toward healing. Different circumstances will force particular issues to the forefront, issues that are somehow attached to, or emerge from your loss. Some examples are isolation; fear; anger; guilt; ‘Why?’ questions; victor/ victim; and “Do I really want to get well?”
In facing my own loss, flashpoint issues took me by surprise, either because they were so contrary to my own personality—or because I was shocked that they showed up as part of my grief.
I hope you’ll check out the article—and share it with your friends and anyone you know who would be interested.
Just click on the link: Fairhaven Memorial Park
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about something since March 2, the day that spelled devastation for so many people in Indiana, Kentucky, and Alabama. Life can change in an instant. I doubt that anyone who was affected by the deadly tornadoes woke up that Friday morning thinking they (or someone they love) would be hurt, or die, or lose their home later that day—and it would all take place within a matter of seconds.
We just go about living our lives each day. We can’t constantly be thinking about what may happen, or worrying needlessly, because that’s no way to live a happy, fulfilling, and trusting life. At the same time, when tragedy strikes, we are jolted into the reality that much of what happens to us is beyond our control. Terrible, unexplainable things occur every day—and individual lives are affected and changed—sometimes forever.
I’m not writing this message from a distance. The subject hits very close to my heart.
Misunderstanding about grief is common. Just talk to people, if you can get them to talk about it. People generally don’t want to discuss grief until they’re faced with it in their own lives—or in the life of someone they know.
A key misconception is that grief will finally just go away on its own. This mistaken idea goes right along with the one we’ve all heard: “Time heals all wounds.” Neither is true.
All loss results in grief—but the process to reach healing is a choice each person has to make. We choose whether to face our grief or try to ignore or bury it. Every person eventually chooses whether to be a victor or a victim.
I don’t want to mislead you. At first, grief is all-consuming, and the pain is overwhelming. You’ll be in a state of shock and feel numb. Some describe this feeling as being ‘in a fog.’
Millions of people around the world are mourning the sudden death of Whitney Houston and trying to take in the reality of something they cannot believe is real. For Whitney’s family and those who love her the most, the pain is beyond comprehension. My heart breaks when I think of what her daughter Bobbi Kristina, her mother Cissy, her ex-husband Bobby, and others closest to her are going through right now, because I’ll never forget the unspeakable pain I lived through fourteen years ago when my husband John went mountain-bike riding and never came home. Tragedy strikes—and we are overwhelmed by grief.
No one is prepared for death, even if someone is sick and isn’t expected to live. And when death comes unexpectedly, we feel even more helpless and confused. Grief is not something we think about until we come face-to-face with it, and by that time, it’s too late. We’re thrust abruptly into grief, we don’t have a clue what is happening to us, how to respond, or what to do—and at some point, we’ll know we have to find a way to navigate the fear, confusion, and uncertainty of our personal grief journey.
Misunderstanding surrounds grief.
Grief has a way of knocking you off-balance and stealing the wind from your sails until you get a handle on what’s happening, learn enough to know what to expect, and find out about the steps you can take to move toward healing. An anchor will keep you from falling during the unexpected chaos that comes with grief.
Anchors will vary among grievers.
When we think of grief, we immediately think of death. Of course, when we lose someone significant in our lives, we experience grief. But we also experience the effects of grief whenever we lose anything truly meaningful.
Even when someone we love dies, if we do not take the steps to positively grieve our losses, the effects of grief will show up in some way. Grief dies not go away simply because we avoid it or fail to recognize it.
Have you faced obstacles — mountains to climb — in your grief journey? Sometimes we get so lost wandering around the mountains (and counting all the things we’re up against) that we forget about what lies beyond them. When grieving stay focused on your goal of healing!
Your mountains may be fears that cropped up in response to your loss. Your obstacles may be financial, or they may concern changes in your relationships with family or friends. You may be struggling spiritually or feel that you’re all alone.
A friend used to teasingly call me Scarlett (as in Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With The Wind, who was known for saying, “I’ll think about that tomorrow!”) This attitude is okay when it involves setting something unimportant or less pressing aside temporarily to concentrate on a more urgent issue at hand. However, people tend to avoid thinking about grief altogether, as though by not thinking about it, they can somehow escape it.
I’m surely not suggesting that you dwell on grief. But at least know where to go and what to look for when loss touches your life, and grief arrives with it.
I had never thought about grief until I was face-to-face with it, and then I had no idea what to do.