It’s been just over four months since my wife Hallie Passed away. It seems like I’ve run the gamut of emotions. I have read articles on grieving, talked to people, prayed to the Lord for guidance, gotten sad and gotten mad. I’ve put together some observations and some experiences of others who have gone through this painful ordeal. I thought it might be helpful to share some of these ideas with you.
Each person’s grief is uniquely his or her own. It is neither predictable nor orderly. Hopefully we will learn to live with the new reality of moving forward in our lives without the physical presence of our loved one. Let’s face it, the real pain of loss is very difficult, yet a very real and necessary part of our lives as we go forward. As the experience of this new reality unfolds, we begin to recognize this with our head and later come to realize it with our heart. I don’t think the sense of loss ever really or completely disappears yet it seems to somewhat soften with time.
Our hope for a continued active life seems to slowly grow and we are able to begin to make some commitments to our own futures. I totally believe that our spouse, who has passed away, will NEVER be forgotten. Knowing that our lives can and will move forward, with the grace of God, this is what keeps us going- one day at a time.
Here are three myths that I found interesting. These were given to me by the hospice organization that cared for Hallie in her last days.
- Greif and mourning are the same experience. Most People tend to use the words of grief and mourning interchangeably. However, there is an important distinction between them. We have learned that people move toward healing not by just grieving, but through mourning.
Simply stated grief is the internal thoughts and feelings we experience when someone we love dies. Mourning, on the other hand, is taking the internal experience of greif and expressing it outside ourselves.
In reality many people in our culture grieve, but they do not mourn. Instead of being encouraged to express their grief outwardly, they are often greeted with messages such as “carry on,” “keep your chin up,” and “keep busy.” So, they end up grieving within themselves in isolation, instead of mourning outside of themselves in the presence of loving companions.
- There is predictable and orderly progression to the experience of grief. Stage- like thinking about both dying and grief has been appealing to many people. Somehow the “Stages of grief” have helped people make sense out of an experience that isn’t as orderly and predictable as we would like it to be. If only it were so simple!
The concept of stages was popularized in 1969 with the publication of Elizabeth Kubler- Ross’ landmark text On Death and Dying. Kubler-Ross never intended for people to literally interpret her five “stages of dying.” However, many people have done just that, not only with the process of dying but with the process of bereavement, grief and mourning as well.
One such consequence is when people around the grieving person believe that he or she should be in “Stage 2” “of 4” by now. Nothing could be further from the truth.
- The goal is to “get over” your grief. We have all heard people ask, “Are you over it yet?” To think that we as human beings “get over” grief is ridiculous! We never “get over” our grief but instead become reconciled to it. We do not resolve or recover from our grief. These terms suggest a totally return to “normalcy,” and yet in my personal experience, we are all forever changed by the experience of grief. For the mourner to assume that life will be exactly as it was prior to death is unrealistic.
Alright, let’s get down to the basics. After all is said and done, what do I really believe? Do I believe that Hallie is in heaven with the lord? Do I believe that there is an eternity in paradise waiting for all believers? Do I believe that when I’ve finished this early journey I’ll see my loved ones in heaven? The empathetic and resounding answer to all of the above is YES!! My trust and hope and belief gives me clarity and understanding and peace.
Love and peace be yours,