Brian Rhen, good friend, fellow pastor, (and neighbor), sent me this info on grief last year to help those who have suffered loss. He himself suffered deeply through death himself. This is something that I have filed away and brought out when needed. It is definitely needed now.
A season of grief or grief fog occurs when we have a sudden or unexpected loss of expectations hoped for (i.e. loss of job, relationship, life). Grief causes a variety of emotions to swirl around within us. It is not a linear process that moves in a specific order. Actually, it is quite the contrary. All of these emotions can be felt in the same day or hour. It just depends on the individual. The best thing you can do is identify the emotion you are feeling and verbalize why you are feeling that way. This will help you understand yourself better and will help others support you.
These emotions include:
Denial: “It doesn’t seem to impact me”
Acceptance: “I am OK/at peace with it”
Bargaining: “I should have…or If only I would have” (includes regrets and any form of questioning)
Depression: “I have no joy, energy or focus”
Anger: “I get mad and my temper gets the best of me even in the little things seemingly unrelated to the grief issue”
How long does it take for the season or fog to clear? Well it depends on the person, but the first 3 months are the most severe. The challenging part is that work gives folks 3 days to grieve, friends give us 3 weeks, yet the season or fog may not begin to clear until about 3 months and the entire process if done well (with support from other, professional and not) takes at least 3 years. Typically, as anniversaries, birthdays and holidays cycle through our lives they often cause our grief to spike. In time, with help from God and others the sting of death will be replaced with a sweetness of memories.
What else can I do to take care of myself during this time?
1. Lower your life expectations
2. Don’t make any major decisions unless you have to
3. Get support through professional counseling or a grief support group
4. Pray to God to release your fears, anxiety, sadness and anger
5. Take care of yourself (i.e. rest, exercise, avoid overeating)
6. Don’t avoid this season or try to bypass it with busyness or substances, for it is your season to grieve and you will be healthier if you process your emotions.
7. Allow this season to give you a renewed perspective on what you do have in life.