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Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant
about those who fall asleep, or to
grieve like the rest of men, who have no
hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose
again and so we believe that God will
bring with Jesus those who have fallen
asleep in him. According to the Lord's own
word, we tell you that we who are still
alive, who are left till the coming of the
Lord, will certainly not precede those who
have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself
will come down from heaven, with a loud
command, with the voice of the archangel
and the trumpet call of God, and the
dead in Christ will rise first. After that,
we who are still alive and are left will be
caught up with them in the clouds to meet
the Lord in the air. And so we will be with
the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each
other with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
A friend of Lynn's, Kate Dunbar,
tells this story aboutattending
a seminar given by psychiatrist and author Elisabeth
Kubler-Ross: "I sat listening to this tiny dynamo describing
in her heavily accented English an incident that
occurred while she was doing the research she later
published in On Death and Dying. Kubler-Ross visited
an extremely large hospital in search of terminal patients
willing to speak with her about their experiences with
death and dying. She said that by the time she had
worked her way from the first floor to the twenty-second,
she had not located one doctor or a single
nurse who was willing to admit that any of their patients
was terminal. In the entire hospital there was not one
patient dying! Yet, there was a morgue in the basement
that ran the entire length of the building. 'That,' Kubler-Ross
said, 'Was when I realized that I must educate!'"
Since that time, Kubler-Ross has forever changed our
culture's attitude toward death and dying. Through her
research she has identified the five stages of grief, providing
a road map, of sorts, for all who must traverse
that hitherto unknown territory. It is true, of course,
that each of us grieves somewhat differently. Each of us
is an individual, so naturally we grieve as individuals.
There is no one road map that is perfectly suited to
everyone, but there are certain major landmarks most
of us will pass on our path to healing.
According to Kubler-Ross those landmarks, or
stages, of grief are: denial, anger, bargaining, sorrow
and acceptance. We will not necessarily feel all of those
things in that particular order. In fact, we probably will
not. But those reactions will appear from time to time
throughout our grieving process. At times they will be
mixed together, one feeling piled on another. We may
find ourselves angry, bargaining and denying all at the
same time, or in quick succession. At other times we
may find ourselves deeply mired in one particular stage
for a matter of weeks or, in some cases, months. One
thing is nearly certain, however, we will pass through
all of those stages sometime during our grieving process
-even if we are Christians.
Christians are not exempt from grief, not yet anyway.
When we lose someone, we, too, will deny; we
will hurt; we will weep; we will rage; we may even bargain
with God. The difference for us is that we have
hope. We have the hope of one day seeing our loved
ones again and the comfort of knowing that we do not
walk alone through the storm of grief. We are members
of a family-the family of God. We can take our denial,
our rage, our desire to bargain and our sadness to our
loving heavenly Father, who can and will carve stepping
stones of them-stepping stones leading to acceptance
and, ultimately, healing.
If we trust in him, all things are possible, including,
or especially, our healing. Trust him for that when you
can and forgive yourself when your pain makes it so
that you cannot. God is faithful and true, a rock upon
which you can base your faith, even as the wind howls
Carry each other's burdens, and in this
way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
When we first receive the news
that someone we love has died,
most of us experience some degree of shock. Shock is a
normal, God-given response to this sort of traumatic
news. It sees us through the first difficult days immediately
following our loss. It gives us time to process the
gravity of that loss and allows us to "wake up" to its
true import gradually.
Eventually, however, the shock wears off and we are
faced with the painful reality of our loss. It is then that
we truly need our friends and family to be there for us.
Too often, however, our friends come near only during
the first few days following the death of our loved one.
Then they gradually drift back to their own lives, most
of them convinced that we are functioning quite well
without their help. They have seen us maneuver through
those first few days while our pain is still numbed by
our shock. They don't desert us deliberately; they actually
believe we have no particular need of them. And
we live in such a fast paced, overloaded-with-responsibilities
society that the everyday demands of their
schedules can squeeze out even the best intentions to
keep in touch, to offer assistance. Only those who have
lost a loved one may be aware that we are really heading
into the center of the storm rather than coming out
It's important for us to give ourselves permission to
ask people to meet our need for comfort so they know
that need is legitimate. We need not feel apologetic.
We can take it upon ourselves to remind close friends
and family members that we are still in the midst of the
storm. Those reminders don't have to be confrontational.
We can simply tell our friends that we are having
a particularly difficult day, that we are missing our
loved one a great deal just now. And we can ask them
to help us through our grief. Most people we are close
to will respond to such a reminder. They need only to
be invited to deal with our hurt. Naturally, we all have
some friends or family members who have difficulty
dealing with people on an emotional level. Those are
not the ones to turn to for comfort. But most of us
have at least one person in our lives who will respond
in love when we make our needs clear to them. We
need not walk through this storm alone.
It's also important to be mindful of the fact that
Christ is always beside us, walking with us through the
storm. But we mustn't fall into the trap of believing
that our awareness of Christ's closeness is all we need.
That is simply not so. God crated us to be in fellowship
with others of our kind. We are not being immature
Christian, "disloyal" to God, or ungrateful when
we openly acknowledge that we need to be comforted
by friends and family.
Make it a goal today to reach out to someone and
be honest with them about the space you occupy, just
now, within the storm.
I'm past the point of going
I'm getting quite
noisy about it.
The neighbors must think
The neighbors, for once,
How to Survive the Loss of a Love
It is not unusual for people to report
that they feel as if they are
"going crazy" following the death of a loved one. When
they describe the symptoms of their "craziness" it
becomes apparent that they are describing the symptoms
of intense stress and anxiety.
Many people report short-term memory loss, which
is often a symptom of high anxiety. The mind is paralyzed
and overloaded. Loss of memory is annoying but
it will pass. It will pass far more quickly if you go easy
on yourself and accept this temporary manifestation of
People also report a re-living of the last time they
saw their loved one alive. Ray still occasionally flashes
back to his last visit with his dad. That memory is so
vivid, he almost feels as if he is there with his dad again.
He remembers the feeling of sitting on the window
ledge in the hospital room. He remembers what the
ball field looked like outside the window. He recalls the
conversation he had with his dad about "nothing in
Others report a loss of concentration. Their racing
thoughts seem to swirl in their minds in no pattern, to
no purpose. They can't think anything through to a
conclusion. On the other hand, some report a slowing
of their thoughts, or a kind of clouded consciousness,
as if they are moving through a mist. They can't focus;
nothing seems quite real. All of these symptoms are
perfectly ordinary considering the intensity of the sorrow
Still others report symptoms that would suggest
panic attacks, a fight or flight response: increased heart
rate, speeding of respiration, cotton mouth, profuse
perspiring. Unlike panic attacks, however, these symptoms
are brought on by an identifiable event and are
likely to disappear as people move through their grief.
Some develop physical symptoms that mimic other
ailments. For example, people may believe that they are
having a heart attack, with all the attendant symptoms,
or migraines, or they develop the habit of grinding
Still others seem as if they have developed the symptoms
of depression. And although the symptoms of
depression-intense sadness, feelings of helplessness,
hopelessness and powerlessness-are the same as many
of the symptoms of grief, there is a difference. Grief is a
natural process that comes to an end without intervention.
Depression generally requires professional intervention
in order to alleviate it. Depression may develop
if a person tries to bypass the grieving process, but the
process, itself, is not depression.
If you have found yourself experiencing any of these
symptoms, take heart. They will pass. Naturally, it is
wise to have a doctor look into any alarming physical
symptoms, but chances are those symptoms will disappear
in time-if you are faithful about processing your
The symptoms we manifest during this time of crisis
are actually a sign of the wondrous way God created
human beings. Our minds and bodies are designed to
declare a sort of "red alert" that is meant to force us to
slow down and pay attention to our needs.
So, if possible, be grateful for the way God has provided
for every eventuality in your life and try to slow
down. Remember, go easy on yourself. This too shall
If only my anguish could be weighed and
all my misery be placed on the scales! It
would surely outweigh the sand of the seas.
In the beginning, when our grief is
brand new, we may find ourselves
inconsolable, unable to receive the well-meant and,
often, scripturally accurate words of encouragement
offered by our Christian friends. When we fail to be
comforted by God's Word we may fear it has lost its
power for us. Usually, this is not the case. When we
have experienced the shock of a major loss, sometimes
our minds go into neutral. We find comfort in absolutely
nothing and are too distracted to concentrate on
the Scriptures. Our questions and doubts make it impossible
to pray. We may even feel that God is either
unwilling or unable to relieve our pain. Rest assured,
God is not ashamed to claim us as his children even
when our pain causes us to doubt him or his intentions
Some of us even rage inside when well-meaning
friends quote Scripture in an effort to provide a point
of stability in our storm of grief. We don't want to hear
comforting words just now. It feels as if their efforts to
comfort merely mock us. We feel as if we are beyond
comfort. We may think to ourselves, Can't they see that
my pain is real? Do these people think my wound is so
insignificant that their feeble attempts to provide comfort
will actually ease my pain?
If you've responded in this way and are feeling guilty,
it may help to know that your response is not uncommon.
Many have walked this road ahead of you. Many
have felt the same and have entertained the same questions.
Even Job, acknowledged by God as a righteous
man, wanted to know where God was while he was
grieving. Job wanted to know what God was doing
that was so much more important than relieving him of
When we are in this early stage of grief, unable to
find comfort in anything, it can be immensely helpful
to know that this stage will pass. It may not feel as if it
will, but it will. There will come a day, in the not too
distant future, when you will be able to concentrate
once more. You will be able to think clearly. You will,
once again, grasp the meanings of the Scriptures you
read. Until then, try to get as much rest as possible and
go easy on yourself. Don't expect to accomplish much.
You can "retire" from the world for this short time
without guilt. You are not being lazy. You are simply
acknowledging the depth of your loss and your human
need for time to recover.
If you need to, declare yourself to be "off duty"
today. Postpone anything that can wait until a day
when you are feeling more energetic. That day will
come ... in God's time.
Those who live the abundant life seem to
seize each experience, tragic or joyous, and
squeeze every drop of learning out of it into
their cup of life. Some of us are envious of
the ... quality of their lift-style. But we have
forgotten what price that kind of honesty
and courage has cost. Joyce Landorf
Our lives are made up of
"rules." Unconsciously, we follow
hundreds of rules every day. Most of us follow a
prescribed routine for brushing our teeth, for making
our morning coffee, for driving in traffic. We have
learned rules to help us cope with hundreds of everyday
When we are confronted by the loss of a loved one,
it is only natural that we should go looking for "rules"
to help us cope. Unfortunately, few of us are ever
taught how to grieve. Isn't it strange that in a world
where loss is inevitable, no one teaches a course on
grieving? To be sure, such a course would vary drastically
from country to country, and, seemingly, the
people in some cultures are better at modeling appropriate
grieving behavior than we Americans. But we
rarely ever encounter anyone who is able to tell us how
to go about grieving. Grief seems to happen to us
rather than happen with our assent.
Ray's mom sent him to stay with a family friend,
Gloria, immediately following his dad's death.
Excerpted from Grieving the Loss of Someone You Love
by Raymond R. Mitsch and Lynn Brookside
Copyright © 1993 by Raymond R. Mitsch and Lynn Brookside.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.