The Mysteries of Grief

Grief is a complicated emotion. It is a mixture of sorrow, sadness, misery, pain, and heartache. Yet no two people seem to experience grief in the same way. Some people become angry while others become despondent. Some people isolate themselves while others seek the company of friends and family. Grief seems to affect everyone differently. No matter how we describe grief, loss is its center piece.

Grief is a mystery to me. Even when you have experienced grief in the past, it doesn’t make the next time any easier. No amount of experience prepares you for the next time. Grief’s power does not seem to dwindle. It seems to come in waves. Just when you think you’ve overcome its effects, it washes over you again. Logic does not affect it. No matter how much reason and truth you throw at it, grief tends to linger until it wears itself out. Bits of comfort may have a temporary effect in the face of this strong emotion.

So why am I tackling this subject? Because grief is all around us. It has almost become a national phenomenon with gun violence, natural disasters, the residue of the Pandemic, and societal ills economically and politically. People of all ages are hurting. They are grieving the losses of normalcy, safety, ownership, health, good will, and loved ones. Many are losing hope that things will ever be right again. We’ve lost the “good old days,” and we can’t seem to phantom what the “good new days” will be like. How do you console people who have lost hope, people who have so many losses?

One of my granddaughters turned twenty-one on the 18th of this month. It should have been a happy day of celebration, and to some extent it was. Unfortunately, a dear friend and classmate died on that day. On the last day of his military training, he passed out on the field and died shortly thereafter. His family was looking forward to celebrating his accomplishment in a achieving his dream to be a United States marine. His death doesn’t just affect his immediate family, it affects whole communities: his fellow soldiers on the base, his neighborhood and local community, his high school where he was in the band and played sports, his church family, out of town relatives, and more. If you knew him, then you are experiencing some level of grief because he was generous, loving, dedicated, committed, helpful, kind, and full of life. Noah Evans will be greatly missed.

I have been trying to comfort my granddaughter by telling her the truth. Here is some of the things I toid her. “Waves of grief will come and go. Bouts of crying is normal and helps relieve some of the pressure that builds up. Try to go for a walk or do other exercise, it will help you get to sleep when your body is tired. Communicate with others who share your feelings, those who are also grieving. Cherish the memories. Remember he was right where he wanted to be pursuing his dream. Journal your thoughts and feelings. Pray and immerse yourself in scripture. Speak with a counselor. Do not isolate yourself from the people who love you. Make a memory book. Don’t be embarrassed about how you feel. I can’t change anything, but I can listen, and I can give you a hug any time you need one.” Is this enough? Does it really help? I can only hope. One thing is for certain, this will not be our last experience with grief.

If my premise is true grief is prevalent in our society, so what can we do? We can be more compassionate and realize that many people are quietly hurting. We can show kindness just for the sake of being nice to other human beings. Kindness is a welcoming healing balm in most any situation. We can be patient. Many people are doing the best they can under the circumstances. We can be charitable. It’s not always possible to replace the loss of others, but we can contribute to their recovery. We can be active listeners. We don’t have to have the same experiences to listen to someone’s heart. Sometimes the suffering just wants to be seen and heard. Lastly, we can offer common courtesy to everyone whether an acquaintance or a stranger. The golden rule still applies; treat others the way you want to be treated. Lastly, examine your own heart. Are you grieving the loss of someone or something? Have you been bombarded with losses over the last couple of years? Give yourself permission to grieve and share your grief with someone who loves you.

Although grief is a mysterious emotion it is a definite part of life. It can be brought on by the smallest thing or by a huge disaster. It can be a tangible loss or a perceived loss. It can be all-consuming or only for moment. It can produce a gamut of emotions such as anger, despair, hopelessness, numbness, shock, and confusion. It can also cause multiple physical symptoms such as sleeplessness, loss of appetite, anxiety attacks, and muscle aches and pains. We can do our part to demystify grief when we share the human experience with empathy and compassion. Don’t forget grief will someday come your way if it hasn’t already.

Queen Elizabeth once said, “Grief is the price we pay for love.” Love your family, love your friends, love your neighbors, love yourself. “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” – Lord Alfred Tennyson

Divine Encounters by Don Wilson

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