TRANSCRIPT: Good morning, Five Minute Families. I come to you this week with a hurting heart. We are facing the imminent death of someone we love. In fact, I am alone with you today while Kim is with our extended family. We know that many of you are facing the same thing – the impending death of someone dear to you. As you know too well, even before the loss happens, the pain begins.
Anticipatory grief may carry many of the same indications of grief after death – sadness, anger, isolation, forgetfulness, depression, exhaustion, and more. Many of us have heard of the classic stages of grief including denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. As any counselor or grief mentor will tell you, those stages are not all-inclusive nor are they experienced in a linear progression. A plate of spaghetti that is jumbled up and touching several aspects of life would be a better analogy.
So, with heavy hearts and that jumble in mind, let us examine how we can help and support each other during such a time.
- Listen. Often, we think we know how the other person will deal with the impending death of a loved one, but the intro into the grief journey is as unique as the grief process itself. We must let our loved one share their hurts, needs, and pain without twisting it into our own ways of coping.
- Likewise, don’t try to fix how your loved one is dealing with his or her grief. You might think the person needs to talk more or talk less or push harder or push less. We each deal with grief differently. If the person is in denial, you keep walking beside them, helping with arrangements as needed. Pray often and seek the Lord’s leading when you feel at a loss for what to say.
- Encourage one another in self-care. Stress wreaks havoc on the immune system, and allowing each person the sleep, nutrition, exercise, and quiet time they need to reengage in a healthy way is extremely important.
- Understand that guilt and anger feelings may abound in this time. It is now during the anticipatory grief period that we each must seek or offer forgiveness. Forgiveness brings peace, though the wronged person rarely believes that until they walk through it.
- Expect loneliness. Many folks feel very lonely while anticipating the death of a loved one, despite often being surrounded by others. Each relationship – parent/child, spousal, sibling, extended family, and friend – lends to a completely different knowledge of the dying person. No one knows your loved one the way you do, and when the closest of those in relationship with the dying person tries to communicate his or her impending loss, no one in the family circle will have that same level of loss. The grief is real for all involved, but the loneliness for those closest to the loss can be very difficult for others to fully understand.
If the time of anticipatory grief is extended, we often cry out as they did in Lamentations 5:20, “Why do you forget us forever; why do you forsake us for so many days?” It is so hard to watch someone we love suffer or to fear that they might be suffering. Long or short, in grief we often feel abandoned by God, but we must remember that just as in John 16:33: in this world we will have suffering, but we can face all those tribulations as we hold to God’s hand, because He has overcome the world. As followers of Christ, we do not grieve without hope. Our hope is in the Lord. Psalm 34:18 says: The Lord is near the brokenhearted, he saves those crushed in spirit.
Know that it is normal to hurt, normal to feel lonely, normal to be afraid, normal to be in denial, normal to feel anger, normal to bargain, normal to feel depressed, normal to accept what is happening. It is also necessary to grieve. Many people pack their feelings and grief deep inside themselves and try to avoid the grief process. Often it is detrimental to their health, relationships, and effects many aspects of their life.
Thank you for joining me this week. We know that families face many challenges day to day, and we here at Clear View Retreat want to meet you wherever you are and help your family love intentionally and hope eternally. We have this hope because of our precious Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ. May God bless and keep you this week as you encourage each other through the norms and storms of life.
First aired on WECO.