When a loved one dies- Grief Relief: how to make sense of your grief

HOW to When we plan to take a journey of some kind, we take time to prepare. We are savvy travellers, so we ensure that we have our navigation tools in hand, ensuring they work as they should. We then become familiar with them before we get on the road. The visit to the fuel station guarantees that we will complete our journey. If we don’t, there is a good chance of getting lost, taking a detour, or not getting to our intended destination at all. Now we have a goal, we have a plan, we are ready to begin our journey.

GOOD GRieF! 

I am a child of the 50s and have seen a lot of life. I’ve lived and worked in four countries and visited a whole lot of others. The journey through life, from the very beginning to end, make us who we are. I must have been about ten years old when my very favourite saying became ‘Good Grief Charlie Brown’! I would say it all the time, and it became somewhat of a trademark for me. It was my catchphrase. Although I didn’t know it, I struggled with dyslexia (not diagnosed until my late 40s). Dyslexia was unknown within the educational system at the time, so there was no provision for remedial teaching. Without the support I needed, I hadn’t read a book in full until my early 20s. Reading exhausted me, so I gave up in the first few pages, unable to comprehend the storyline or understand the words.

Thinking back, I seriously tried my hardest at school, but not everyone saw it that way. I could read a little bit, but not enough to keep up with my grades. My teachers reported to my parents that I was lazy, which would add to my overwhelming sense of failure. Tearfully I shouted, ‘I am trying, I just can’t read, I just can’t, and they would fire back at me ‘there’s no such word as can’t’ and told me to try harder. Finally, I was doing so badly that I had to repeat grade two twice. Then I failed in every year of primary school as well. To be expected, I had an awful time in high school, lasting there for only 6 months, leaving in favour of the workplace at the age of 15 years old.

Try as I might, I just didn’t get hold of what was going on in the classroom. I couldn’t follow the thread of ideas, and the bullies duly took advantage of my weakness. On several occasions, a group of boys and girls were waiting for me at the school gate and chased me all the way home after roughing me up. Growing up in Australian schools in the 1950s and 60s wasn’t easy. We had to be tough enough to be able to defend ourselves when needed. And it would always help, of course, if you were a fast runner. My inferiority heightened when my classmates and family devoured books like they were going out of fashion. They would tell me how easy it was to read, so why couldn’t I? Feeling very alone and misunderstood, I began to withdraw into myself. I never went to the school library except for a compulsory session in class. I did not understand why I had to attend the library when I couldn’t read properly. The whole system confused me. I quickly became overwhelmed by the hundreds of books housed on myriads of tall shelves. 

Then one day, while trying to avoid the bullies, I found myself wandering into the school library. It was there that I discovered a small booklet. It was brief enough that I managed to read it almost to the end. I loved that little book, with its cute cartoons on every page, which portrayed the adventures of Charlie Brown. I liked Charlie, he was an unusual little boy, and I found that I could relate to him, bless him. In Charlie, there was a small reflection of myself. Charlie was of short stature, ordinary, like me, and like me, he was sometimes misunderstood. Charlie had a habit of making silly mistakes, he would say stupid things and do things out of the ordinary, and that is when his friends would exclaim, Good Grief, Charlie Brown! I definitely could relate to good ole’ Charlie. 

NOTHING GOOD ABOUT GRIEF

I suffered my first real experience of grief when I split from my fiancé of three years. I was still saying good grief, but now I knew that grief had nothing GOOD about it. In the end, my favourite little motto became a thing of the past -sorry, Charlie. Whether it is death, divorce, a job loss, or anything else that causes us to grieve, all are difficult to cope with. Whatever the circumstances, grief forces us to say goodbye to someone or something. 

Grieving is such a personal and individual thing; we all experience it in our own way. But what is expected is that it makes us sad. I remember the sorrow I felt when I left my home country, Australia, creating a new home overseas. The anguish of saying goodbye to dear friends as I moved away due to work commitments. Because of my ministry, I moved around frequently, so sadness became a familiar companion. I was living 15,000 miles away in the UK. When my mother, who lived in Australia, died. I felt sad when I couldn’t be with her in her last days. The sorrow deepened because I couldn’t help my sisters to care for our aged Dad. – there’s nothing good about grief. 

HOW TO MAKE SENSE OF YOUR GRIEF

I share some of my stories, so you know that you are not alone in this. I want you to see that there is someone out there who can empathise. My purpose is to help you understand your sad feelings and learn to manage them to live a happy and fulfilling life. But, unfortunately, no actual language exists that clearly expresses the reality of the deep pain of grief. 

In 1976 I came to faith in Christ, began attending church, and was told by well-meaning people that all my problems had ended. I believed them. They assured me that because I had found a trouble-free life! It wasn’t long before I found out that this idea was terribly dishonest. Then the problems began, and I was convinced that something was wrong with me. This wasn’t supposed to happen! Discouraged and very confused, I believed that I must have done something wrong. It was my fault somehow. I already had low self-esteem, and this only compounded my sense of helplessness and hopelessness. 

My God encounter was genuine. I hung on tightly to that experience as the turmoil swirled around me. I began to research God’s word for myself and found the truth of the matter. What I was told was a lie, things do go wrong for people of faith, and bad things happen to good people – that is OK, that’s life!

 Every human being on the planet lives through sorrow in different ways and measures and always will. You can imagine my relief to find this was nothing unusual and that there was nothing wrong with me. Many teachings in the Scriptures point out that we will have troubles in this life, especially if we follow Christ closely as his disciples, don’t be surprised by what you are experiencing – God is with you. 

 Bereavement affects everyone in different ways, and it’s possible to experience any range of emotions. There is no right or wrong way to feel.

To make sense of your grief and what you are feeling- here is a few easy tips.

  1. Accept you are not alone; the experience of grief is common to everyone.
  2. Accept you will have troubles; life is full of happiness and sorrow.
  3. Observe how your feelings impact on your thoughts.
  4. Observe how your thoughts impact upon your physical body.
  5. Observe how your feelings’ thoughts and body impact your actions and behaviours.
  6. Do you feel sad or depressed?
  7. Do you feel shock or disbelief?
  8. Do you feel numb or in denial of some kind?

If you need support as you journey through your grief. I am Professionally trained with a Master of Arts in Counselling. Let’s Talk – contact me and see what the next step is right for you. 

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