This is the first article in a three-part series from our Director of Counseling Services on loss which will address how to deal with the emotional impacts of loss through grief, compassion fatigue and finding life in death.
I've always heard losses come in "threes." Well, the past few weeks have gone way beyond that number in my world. I know there are many families and friends grieving – some I know personally and some I only know by name as brothers and sisters in Christ. Most of these losses have come in very tragic situations and circumstances. Others have come after long illness and suffering.
As I reflect on these losses today, I want to share some things with you on loss and grieving, especially when talking with someone who has recently experienced a loss. Oftentimes, it is difficult to know what to say. We want to be encouraging and positive. But for many who are walking through the valleys of grief, what they really need is for you to just be present - without trying to fix it. That's hard, I know.
Grief is a journey. Along the way, individuals will likely experience a wide range of emotions. Kubler-Ross identified 5 common elements of grief described as stages. But in reality, a person grieving fluctuates in and out of these stages for some time, can "repeat" a stage and may frequently feel like a ball of emotions. So as you come alongside to comfort those who are grieving, it's best not to judge where they are in the journey or how they are experiencing it; simply be present, kind and loving.
Here's a great clip by singer/songwriter Jason Gray that speaks to being present.
Also, keep in mind that loss doesn't always mean death. Sometimes loss means a life transition or event, which results in a loss of relationship, physical ability or even hopes and dreams for the future. These individuals may also grieve and move in and out of the stages of grief as the loss is processed over time.
If loss and grief have been a part of your world lately and you'd like to learn more, Dr. H. Norman Wright has extensive knowledge on the subject so check out any of his books. If you want to consider a grief ministry at your church, you might check out the GriefShare program.
Other articles in this series: