I ran into a friend today who shared that it was a difficult day for her because it was the three year ‘anniversary’ since her sister died of cancer.
She shared her concern about still crying over her sister’s death, and the guilt she feels over not telling her how much she meant to her.
I tried to comfort her, assuring her that her sister would not want her to feel guilty, and encouraging her to just let herself cry and grieve without worrying about it.
Grief is one of life’s experiences that we don’t like to talk about, or even acknowledge to ourselves, because grief is associated with very difficult and painful situations. Plus somehow we think we should be stronger than we are and not let loss affect us so much.
But, grief is a normal response to a painful experience. Loss is painful. Whether it has to do with the death of a loved one, the loss of opportunities, the lack of positive and meaningful relationship with a family member–spouse, parent, sibling–or our own declining abilities due to illness or age, and more.
As many of you know, my mother passed away the end of January, so the subject of grief is very fresh for me. After a difficult time the last three months of her life, she went “home and be with the Lord” as she use to say. So, while I miss her, I wouldn’t want her to still be here, in pain, and when she so wanted to go on into eternity. Knowing I’ll see her again is a great balm to grief!
Another friend of mine lost her mother this past week, and even though her heart was at peace knowing she will see her again in heaven, she acknowledged the emotional grief she was experiencing. As a therapist she understood the dynamics of grief, and so was able to allow herself to go through the process.
As Dr. Bill Gaultiere writes in “Helping with the Grieving Process, “You may have painful, frightening, and confusing feelings come over you in sudden, unexpected waves. Whenever possible, don’t fight your feelings. Recovering from a death or a major loss (e.g., divorce, health problem, unemployment, financial crisis, broken dream) is a process that takes time and naturally includes cycling through the feelings and responses that are part of the five stages of grief described below.”
Five Stages of Grief
Anger & Guilt
The five states of grief will be different in degree of intensity for each person, depending on the closeness and length of relationship, etc.
The important thing is to allow yourself to go through the process of grieving. Otherwise, you will get stuck in one of the stages.
Many people are depressed and don’t know why. Others are angry or filled with guilt and can’t figure out the cause. More often than not it can simply be because they didn’t allow themselves to process through the stages of grief.
Sadly, many suffer for years stuck in an unfinished stage of grief, which can be the cause of much unnecessary pain and difficulty, personally relationally, professionally, etc.
Don’t let this happen to you! Get help from a counselor or pastor, or talk it out with a close friend.
Go ahead – let yourself grieve! Acknowlege your feelings. Though painful to go through, you will feel so much better when you are done.
Dr. Gaultiere gives tips for helping you go through the grieving process here.
This is part of taking good care of your soul.