July 2, 2020

Grief is a Process

Joy Wilson

This has been quite a journey for each of us. 2020 will be a milestone year. We have never encountered all the different events happening at one time in our lifetime. Every day I am thankful that we serve a God who gives us strength for each day.

Recently, in conversations I have had with some WIM friends, they asked me about handling grief and if I would share on how to handle grief. I am not an expert, but I will share some things I have learned through my experiences.

Grief is a process. It is taking the time to put the broken pieces of your heart back together. We grieve through many different losses: jobs, relocation, divorce, death of a loved one, empty nest, separation, loss of friendship, an unfulfilled expectation, people leaving your church, and so many other things we could list. The bottom line is these things hurt and they affect us emotionally.

Grief affects our emotions. When I attended a grief class after the death of my father, I realized everyone grieves differently, but we all deal with similar emotions. You must give yourself permission to grieve. It takes time. You don’t get over loss in a day. Don’t be afraid to seek out a good counselor, or grief class to help you.

The book that helped me was written by the lady whose grief class I attended: How to say Goodbye, working through personal grief, by Joanne Petrie and Dr. Ronald G Petrie. As leaders sometimes we think we need to have it all together and admitting we are hurting or struggling is weakness. This is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome, but in order to heal, we must be true to ourselves.

Grief is a circle of emotions: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Not necessarily in that order but usually starts and ends the same. There are many books out on these subjects. Contact our Pastoral Care leader, Pastor Larry Steller, for help in these areas.

Here are some helpful actions:

  • Emotions.
    Crying is a very real thing. You experience a wave of grief and it seems overwhelming. This often happens when you are thinking of the situation, or something comes up about the person or situation and you cannot contain the wave of grief. That is normal. Find a place to cry. If you are at work, find a place to be alone for a few minutes, if you are with people, excuse yourself and take a few minutes to work through your emotions. It is real and it is okay. Allow these times to remind you of Psalm 23, remember as you walk through the darkest valley, He is with you. He gives you hope. Choose to read scriptures that give you hope and healing. He is the comforter. He will see you through, that is His promise.
  • Journal your feelings daily.
    Journaling helps you process your feelings and understand what is causing your actions or reactions; what is happening and why you feel this way. It helps you to be aware and puts things in perspective.
  • Seek out a counselor.
    If you have been hurt by someone, remember, oftentimes hurt people, hurt people. Go to a trusted friend, counselor, leader, and walk through your hurt. Expressing your feelings helps you look at the situation and help you decide or discover plans or actions that are needed or are helpful. Stuffing down your feelings often result in outbursts of anger or depression. Talk and get your emotions out rather than hold them in. Get help by going to someone who can walk you through with biblical principles. God’s Word has many scriptures to give you hope, peace, comfort, and strength to read and apply to your life.
  • Memorial Stones.
    This was a helpful exercise. We all have incredible memories of happy times and when they cannot be celebrated the way it has always been, do something to replace it with a goodbye to what has been and a hello to something new.

Hopefully, this is helpful – for no matter what you are experiencing or walking through, He is with you.

Oregon Ministry Network

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