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

Personal Investments

These days everyone is either involved in investments or interested in investments because investments offer a certain amount of security for the future. Of course, that depends on the value of your assets, although value is subjective I suppose. That’s why I want to talk about one of greatest commodities today – people. Now if you’ve been following me at all you knew I wasn’t going to talk about micro and macro-economics. Trust me, when you reach the crossroads between life and death your first thoughts will be about the people you love not the portfolio you had. Yes, I said had, because when you die it all goes to your beneficiaries or the state. (Side note: Have your stuff in order so the state doesn’t inherit your fortunes even if you have to give everything to charities.)

Several days ago I walked into a branch of my bank in another neighborhood. As I walked up to the teller he greeted me by name. That threw me off because I had never been in this branch before, and his face wasn’t one that I recognized. He proceeded to ask me if my mom was still with us. I replied in the affirmative so he asked how she was. By then I guess my strained response or more than likely the look on my face told him I was completely puzzled. Finally, he says, “You don’t remember me do you?” “I’m afraid not,” I said, “it’s the plague of getting old,” I smiled. He told me his name and the name of his sister. They had been students in a summer camp I used to own when they were small children. They came back every summer for three or four years he informed me. He went on to say how he remembered me playing with them and taking them on so many field trips. These were some of his best memories in childhood according to him. “You showed us the world of possibilities.” By this time, I was completely floored, pleased, and completely happy to be the recipient of such praise.

This young man had gone on to college and graduated with a degree in business. He was commercial loan officer at the bank filling in for an absent teller. We looked at pictures of his family and talked a little about the school his children attended. As I left, he said he was going to call his sister right away to tell her about me. Now you tell me, wasn’t that a wonderful payoff for my investment. Time and money well spent. Dividends still paying off for another generation.

This past holiday, I received a handwritten card by snail mail from a women I’ve known for more than 20 years. She lives on the west coast and we only see her every four or five years. I was so surprised to get this card; everyone I know sends greetings by text or social media; they certainly aren’t that personal. I was so touch by what she had written I called her immediately. We talked for more than an hour. It was great to reconnect with a long time friend. One thing she shared with me was her commitment to send personal notes, birthday cards, and greetings for other occasions for her friends and family. She said not only does it make them feel special but it brings her joy to do it. (Sounds like she filling her bucket!) She emphasized how the elderly on her list really enjoyed these handwritten notes because some of them are not techno-savvy. Also many people save these and look at them again and again; each time they experience the love and joy that they received when they first opened them.

Are we to busy to invest in people? Are we so consumed by work or personal entertainment that we don’t have time to actually talk to people? Has technology caused us to forget the personal touch of actual conversation? If we don’t invest in the younger generation why should they invest in us? I know time is also a precious commodity, but what’s the point in having a high volume portfolio if I can’t make time to share my life with others?

How are you personal investments coming along? Parents? Grandchildren? Children Neighbors? Friends? Co-workers? Classmates? Are those relationships growing or depreciating?

I’m beginning to see a great return on my investments. I hope you will too!

All Occasion Greeting Cards