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Handling Grief – Our Perspective

31 Aug

When I introduced the topic of handling grief, I had this idea of writing a scheduled, organized and logical series based on my ideas and experience. As I sat down to write the next post after the introduction, I came up with nothing! Most of my writings flow from what I am feeling. I am finding that the emotion of grief is illogical, disorganized and shows up unscheduled. So this series (if it ends up being a series) about grief may do the same :-).

I was unprepared to handle the grief that came to my family after Isaac unexpectedly died. I felt numb for the first many days, all the way through the funeral and memorial services. I cannot remember much about the first several weeks or even months following his death. Brenda and I both felt tremendous doubt, guilt, heartache and, at times, anger. We questioned ourselves as parents and as children of God. We struggled with reasoning why this happened and have fallen miles short of arriving at a certain answer. We can hypothesize many reasons, but the fact remains that we do not know specifically why Isaac died after only ten years on this earth. We do know that because we live in a sin-cursed world that death happens to all of us.

I feel unqualified to tell anyone how they should handle their grief. I lost my ten year-old firstborn son. I have never lost a parent, sibling, daughter, youngest child, an infant outside the womb, etc. Isaac was gone suddenly and unexpectedly. We did not have a chance to say goodbye to each other. We did not have an opportunity to prepare as one might with a prolonged illness. A child normally does not die before his parents or grandparents. We have certain family dynamics that may be similar to or different from other families. You see – our situation is unique. Nobody can say that their situation is exactly the same as someone else’s.

So, how do I suggest that we handle grief? We draw closer to God. We seek His comfort. We trust Him. We cling to His Word, such as Romans 8:28 (I recommend reading this post The Promise of Good). We believe in His mercy toward us as demonstrated on Calvary’s hill. We draw encouragement and strength from the Holy Spirit and from others. Living with grief in a vacuum can be dangerous because it can overwhelm you.

How do you comfort those who are grieving? Please allow me to share with you my suggestions based on our experience other the past four months. What means the most to us is when someone looks us in the eye with sincere compassion, gives us a touch or hug or says or writes something genuine from his or her heart. It is important to be genuine. If you cannot think of anything to say, that is fine! I think our human tendency is to want things back to normal ASAP because we feel uncomfortable. Therefore, we try to provide a wise explanation for the event or we say things hoping to produce behavior in others that will result in perceived normalcy. I cannot even tell my wife how she should grieve because we have different personalities. We allow each other the space to grieve in the other’s manner and try to be gentle with each other. Also, sometimes we perceive that someone may intentionally avoid us or discussions about Isaac. This is understandable, again, because it may cause someone to feel uncomfortable to be around us. While it is hurtful to be avoided, we are learning to extend grace and remember that we do and say hurtful things also. I do not write this to condemn anyone because I am guilty of the same! Even in uncomfortable or difficult relationship issues, I either try to avoid the situation or say something utterly ridiculous. So I am learning too through all of this. I guess the best advice is to be genuine, come along side those who are hurting and help carry them through.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. (Rom 12:15, emphasis added)

Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. (Joh 11:32-38a, emphasis added)

Finally, Love Them Like Jesus (click on the “X” in the ad to reveal the lyrics):

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Next time I hope to share some resources that have been helpful to us through this journey.

Hoping that you experience the blessing of God’s grace and mercy,

Andy

 
8 Comments

Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

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8 responses to “Handling Grief – Our Perspective

  1. Pam

    August 31, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    I do believe some people feel uncomfortable when faced with knowing someone who has lost a loved one because often we do not know what to say. I know I just want to make it better for you all. I have empathy and compassion for what you all are having to experience, yet I do not know what to say at times. I feel incompetent in lending support. I have felt guilt and shame for not being available the night of Isaac’s accident. I am just now able to put feelings in perspective and trying to deal with my sadness not just for Isaac’s passing but for the rest of you as well. I get angry that this had to happen to a happy child and happy family. Although I know I should not ask why, I find myself doing so. Not often, only occasionally. As Isaac’s birthday nears, I find myself thinking about mailing his birthday box and knowing how surprised he was when he received his mail. That part of my joy was taken away from me, as small as it was.
    My love to you all!
    Pam

     
    • ephesians516

      September 1, 2011 at 5:13 AM

      Dearest Pam – Please forgive yourself! You do not realize what you have meant to and done for us. When you took time away from your family to spend with us, you encouraged and supported us tremendously (especially your sister Brenda). You speak to us through your tears and actions – those are your voice. We feel closer to you through all of this.

      Thank for for honestly sharing your thoughts and feelings. We will all need to lean on each other through this month of September as Isaac’s birthday approaches.

      We love you and your family dearly,

      Andy, Brenda & the children 🙂

       
  2. Rebecca Carney - One Woman's Perspective

    August 31, 2011 at 8:17 AM

    I agree. People are not comfortable around deep grief, don’t know what to do, and react by withdrawing or avoiding the bereaved at the time when support is most needed. In my reading and by experience, I have found that bereaved parents are generally divided 50/50 – 50% feel tremendous support by those they know; 50% feel horrendously abandoned by those they know.

    Early on, after our son died, I felt like we were the beaten-up wounded laying on the side of the road while all of the “religious” (Christian) people crossed to the other side. I really struggled with keeping my heart right, realizing that the only actions and reactions I am responsible for are my own. I am the first to admit that it was not an easy thing to do – secondary wounds on top of the horrendous initial wound from the death of our son were a lot to bear. It is an area where I, even now, continue to do a heart-check and forgive again and again.

    Yes, we do not grieve as those who have no hope. We do, however, grieve. We miss our child. Our lives have changed, sometimes beyond recognition.

    I am so sorry that your son died. I do empathize with you in your loss and on your journey. I pray that all of you will be surrounded by God’s comfort and the comfort of those you know who weep with you as you weep.

     
    • ephesians516

      September 1, 2011 at 5:05 AM

      Rebecca – I am so sorry for the loss of your son Jason David. From your blog, he appears to be such a tenderhearted, sensitive young man with a love for people and God. I am certain that you miss him very much. He and our son, Isaac, appear to share many similar characteristics. Reading “The Return” renewed my hope and expectation of the great reunion in the clouds when our Lord Jesus returns!

      We can relate to your experience with how people react. Thank you for being honest enough to share your struggle about keeping your heart right. I (Andy) struggle with forgiveness but am reminded of my own shortcomings and hurtful words and actions. We are thankful to be also surrounded by truly caring and compassionate people.

      Thank you for visiting and commenting on our blog. We look forward to reading through your positings on your blog.

      God bless and comfort you and your family,

      Andy & Brenda

       
  3. Elizabeth Martin

    August 31, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    Andy and Brenda,

    Thank you for your thoughts and insight. My love and prayers are with you, and even though we humanly don’t understand the why’s of God’s sovereignty, we trust in Him. And it has been a blessing to see you draw close to Him, who is our main hope and comfort.

    Love and prayers,
    Betty

     
    • ephesians516

      September 1, 2011 at 4:41 AM

      Thank you Betty for your continued words of encouragement. You are a blessing to our family. We trust that the Lord is always sovereign and His ways are not ours. He can amazingly work good out of all things to those who love Him.

      God bless you our dear friend and sister in Christ,

      Andy & Brenda

       
  4. Michael Cartwright

    August 31, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    Andy,

    The grief one feels ignited from any loss is indeed an individual journey. I feel It is a path that takes shape based on our ability and willingness to reach out to our Lord for comfort and guidance. The severity of despair in my observation is gauged or related to that very willingness.

    Early on with the sudden loss of my Angel, I too was numb and lost touch with my surroundings. I slowly emerged some weeks later and was unable to identify with some of the attempted comforts thrown our way…this was foreign territory for me as well. Until my loss, I would not have known what to say to someone who had experience such heartache. Since my loss, I have reached out to a few parents who have recently lost a child and the words, even with my experience, are hard to come by. So, I offer a genuine heartfelt “I’m sorry”, a comfort hug, and I pray for them and with them.

    So the need, as you say, to be genuine and come from the heart with support is the way to approach anyone in such a place…If not, it will not be received. Jesus weeps with us from the heart, and that is one reason why His comfort is so effective.

    Very nice post…God bless you my friend!
    Michael

     
    • ephesians516

      September 1, 2011 at 4:37 AM

      Thank you Michael for being open and sharing about your personal journey after the loss of your dear Angel. Your posts have encouraged us to seek the Lord in keeping us from despair. We hope that we can comfort others as we have been comforted.

      God bless you and draw you closer to Him.

      Andy

       

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