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Coping with Loss
The counselors at Woods-Valentine Mortuary give every family a handout titled “Surviving The Loss of One You Love.” (Author Unknown) It is full of comforting information for those who have just experienced a loss. It speaks to what is normal to feel at such a difficult time, and to the need be patient with yourself.
I strongly believe that the following article will also be a blessing to the newly bereaved.
“In the Beginning: The Gift of Spiritual Coping Tools”
The early days of the grieving process are always difficult. A wide variety of emotions overtake our lives when the process of coping with loss begins. It can be surprising when the initial period of loss is so confusing and painful. In a spiritual sense, one can experience powerful adjustment periods that help the griever accept the fact of death. These adjustment periods become gifts when viewed as spiritual tools rather than pain to be avoided.
The Gift of Tears. Persons who are grieving often find crying disturbing. Many time. much effort goes into not showing the pain, as we judge tears and crying to be a sign of weakness. “Adults don’t cry in public!” “Big boys (and men) don’t cry.” “I wish I wasn’t so emotional!” “She’s holding up so well.” These are merely a few ways that our society devalues the gift of tears. It might be helpful if we understood tears are merely another form of language. Tears are the first form of language that we used upon entering this world. Only the heartless individual could ignore the cries of an infant or child. In our adult life, we often shed tears when what we have to say is beyond the scope of ordinary language. Maybe tears are God’s gift to us when we cannot adequately express what we feel in our hearts.
The Gift of Numbness. The initial days after a loss are filled with emotion and activity. Describing this time as a “flood of emotions” is probably an oversimplification. Feelings of loss, disbelief, anger, fear, guilt, loneliness, and anxiety are but a sampling of possible reactions. This combination of emotion is just too much to understand and assimilate. For most individuals, this period is like a spiritual tranquilizer. In other words, God understands the limitations of the human heart and allows us the ability to “numb out” when the reality of loss is just too great for the moment. This early gift of numbness enables us to get through the initial days. As time begins to pass, each of these emotions will again appear when it is possible for us to deal with them.
The Gift of Companionship. One of the most important gifts bestowed upon those who grieve is the company of friends and family. There is normally a genuine outpouring of love and support toward those who lose a love one. Visitations at the funeral home and the family residence following a notification of death frequently surprise the bereaved. Food and flowers are expressions of care and concern, attempting to meet basic needs for nurturing and support. It is important to recognize this important spiritual support.
Most people learn about the love of God through the expressions of loving people on earth. If we ask, “Where is God when I am in so much pain?” the answer could be found in the visit, the phone call, the sympathy card, and yes, even the tenth meat tray or casserole. Grieving individuals need to remember the visits and the offers of help and utilize them to bring spiritual consolation and support.
Written by Sister Marilyn Welch, Protecting God’s Children