When was the last time that we thought about grieving? People grieve many changes in their lives. We grieve losing a job, a divorce, death, moving and many other changes. But do we really understand what it is to grieve?
They say that there are five-to-nine stages of grief. The five that are most common are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Some people think that you go from step one through step five in that order, but grief is not that neat and clean, or that predictable. A person can spend a long or short time in any of these phases. They can revisit any phase many times.
You can go from denial, to anger, to bargaining, back to anger again, to depression, to anger again, to acceptance and to depression again. It all depends on the individual.
Let’s look at the death of someone who died from being sick or old. The family may have been taking care of the individual for years. Even though they understand that the person may be at peace now, it still does not remove the pain.
Months may go by until they decide to deal with the person's belongings. People may want this or that to remember their loved one. People may not even touch any of the possessions because it may cause them too much pain.
Events that go by may trigger the grieving process again, such as the person’s birthday, the holidays, special landmarks in time or place, a smell that reminds them of the person, or a song. Just like Critical Incident Stress has many triggers, so does grieving; after all, it is a critical incident. Some may just want to sit there and experience the grief because they are afraid that when they stop grieving, they may forget the person.
God says that we should love one another. Being there to be with someone as they grieve is a sign that you care, even just by helping someone figure out the paperwork, or what to do with the possessions. My friend told me that it was a great help as we cleaned out a relative’s house. We sat there for hours and talked as we went through everything. We figured out where it was to go, who it would go to, and/or if we would throw it out. Once in a while we would start to laugh, seeing things from our childhood that they saved from years ago, and seeing what we had from years ago.
It is perfectly fine for someone to mourn. We all need time to process our losses. As I write this, I'm thinking of one of my clients that died, who I knew for about 30 years, and also one of my friend's relatives who died. I'm also thinking of someone who means a lot to me that was recently diagnosed with Leukemia. I, myself, am mourning losses with my friends, as well as preparing myself for things that are inevitable. I know that I may be devastated when the person passes, but I also plan to remember the person close to me and I plan on honoring the person with my service, thoughts and actions.
Children sometimes have a harder time dealing with grief, which people can assist with. There are counselors and also some camps that help, such as Comfort Zone Camps. Comfort Zone is a nation-wide camp that assists children when they have challenges dealing with their own grief.
I ask that you be there to grieve with those who mourn, and be patient. It is okay to just be there and be silent when you do not know what to say. It is part of caring for people and being part of a family. We will all grieve at one time or another.