I have been given 7 book, from well-meaning friends, on grieving and loss..I have read none of them...until yesterday. The second in a series of three by Doug Manning arrived from Julie and the staff at our "home church" in Plano, Tx. It's small enough to read through in about 30 min... It has so much to say that I know is "right on", because I'm experiencing it, and so much to say about where I'm at right now...it impacted me...for my daughters, who read this blog, and for anyone else who cares or can relate, I must share.
"The more I listen to people in grief, the more I am convinced that everyone in grief has one basic need...someone to simply notice and acknowledge the depths of the pain."
"He dominates my every thought. There is never a moment in the day when I am not thinking of him. I've stopped being who I am and became his bereaved wife. I have no identity beyond that. I am afraid to laugh, because I feel that would somehow diminish his memory. I am afraid to move on in my grieving...I don't want to let go."
"The pattern of grief is:
When the heart breaks
When the heart bleeds
When the heart surrenders
When the heart heals."
When bad things happen to us the first thing we want to do and the first thing we need to do is to establish the significance of the event.
First :The Significance of Your Loss
You have no idea what you have lost until it is gone. It is almost as if you have to inventory the loss before you can grieve it. Every day you will think of something else the person brought into your life. Every day you will think of something else you wanted to do for them or with them. Memories during the inventory are bittersweet to say the least. You want to remember each detail and yet each memory brings great pain. These memories are really small miracles. They come in great pain and flooding tears. The pain can seem unbearable and never ending, and yet the same memories that now bring such pain will one day become your most comforting friends.
You want and need the loss acknowledged. It may sound selfish to say that first you need to establish your own personal loss but you need to remember that in times of deep stress, the number one issue is your own survival and well being. This is not selfishness, it is the result of the very basic need to survive.
Second: The Significance of the Person You Have Lost
You need to talk about the value of the person. You need to tell their story.
(my blog is certainly evidence of the truth in that statement...it's become all about him...all about my loss..)
Third: The Social Significance
That is why we have funerals. A funeral is a time for the friends to gather and tell the family how much the person meant to them. I love flowers at funerals. Many of your friends will never understand how much healing you receive when they remember some story or experience they had with your loved one. The ones who do remember and who do tell the stories will be the Safe People who help you heal.
Significance and Trivialization
The need for significance is so deep and so basic that any effort that tries to explain it all away comes across as trivialization ...and that hurts.
Even though I love the Bible and find great comfort in the words and the message, I believe we need to be careful not to use the Bible to trivialize or explain away grief. Some of the texts that sound wonderful to a non-grieving person may leave you thinking that your grief shows a lack of faith..
Twenty years after a death, a friend can tell someone that "all things work together for good", but they should not say that the day after a mate dies. The way to make someone really mad is to find a family that has just lost a child and tell them that God will not put more on them than they can bear. The family is hearing that their pain is not a very big deal right at the time they are wanting and needing someone to take it seriously...someone is trying to down-play the significance of their loss in an effort to help.
Significance and Healing
If we can establish significance, we can move on. If we cannot do so, we tend to park there and our loss can become an obsession to us.
Significance and Conflict
The need for significance can create some conflicts between you and your friends and family. Everyone wants you to be better. Their natural tendency is try to cheer you up...unfortunately there is no way to do this without defeating your efforts toward significance.
A good analogy of this would be to imagine you have a bucket in your hands. The bucket represents what you are feeling after your loss. Your bucket is filled to the brim with pain, tension, conflict, fear, doubt and a deep sense of loneliness. Picture a friend standing in front of you with a bucket. Their bucket is full also. Their bucket is full of good advice, cheering up messages, and new ways to look at your loss. They don't want to get into your bucket. That is scary. They are afraid that you might get out of control, or that you might ask them something they cannot answer. They worry about what they are going to say to you and fear that they might say the wrong thing. So they try to pour what is in their bucket into yours. The problem is, your bucket is already full, and all of the stuff in their bucket seems trivial at best and can even cause you pain. You are not helped and they cannot understand why not.
That brings us back to the need for safe people. Safe people simply get into your bucket with you. Then you can explain your pain. You can talk about your loss. You can rave about your love...Telling them about the person you lost and doing so over and over again somehow makes you feel like you have found a way to give honor to the one you love.Ah! And hearing them tell you how much your loved one meant to them and relating stories and experiences they will never forget, somehow makes you feel as if you are not alone in the quest to be sure your loved one never dies.. No one is dead until they are forgotten and there are those who will never let your loved one die."
( I think I have used my blog as my "safe person"....it cannot talk back to me except with comments from those who care.)