It has been nearly 4 months since I lost my dad. Some days, I can reflect on fond memories, some days I pass his picture in my hallway and weep. There are days when I am just sad for no specific reason or angry without cause. How did I get here? This past year I have been anticipating loses. It began with my cousin. She was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and in July, at age 59, she left us. There were so many people praying for her and that restorative miracle. The healing came in heaven on July 15, 2021. My heart still hurts, especially for her beloved family. Again, I ask, how does one navigate this grief? Shortly after my cousin went to be with Jesus, my dad’s health began to fail. Some say, well he was 87 and lived an amazing life. I still am sad and woeful. When I visit my mom, the house feels lonely, sad, and empty without his presence. Will I ever feel joy when I am at my parents’ house? I think about Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and the stages of grief (the quotes below are Kübler-Ross quotes):
DABDA – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance
Denial "Denial attempts to slow this process down and take us through it one step at a time, rather than risk the potential of feeling overwhelmed by our emotions." For me this came while in the prep after the losses. I got so wrapped up in the to-do lists and the busyness, that there didn't feel like a true opportunity to just sit with Jesus and grieve.
Anger True confession time, I looked for ways to be angry. I directed this emotion toward anyone or anything. "Unfortunately, anger tends to be the first thing we feel when we start to release emotions related to loss. This can leave you feeling isolated in your experience and perceived as unapproachable by others in moments when we could benefit from comfort, connection, and reassurance." To be candid, I am still working through this with God.
Bargaining "This feeling of helplessness can cause us to react in protest by bargaining, which gives us a perceived sense of control over something that feels so out of control. We might look back at our interactions with the person we are losing and note all the times we felt disconnected or may have caused them pain." So many times, I would plead for healing and restoration. However, when I saw the physical toll that the illnesses were ravaging on those I loved, I felt selfish in my plea.
Depression Isolation is an ongoing theme for me. Sometimes I don’t want to snap out of it and move on. I want to be sad and know that I’m still ok. When I isolate, I don’t have to put on my mask, I can be free to grieve. "During our experience of processing grief, there comes a time when our imaginations calm down and we slowly start to look at the reality of our present situation. Bargaining no longer feels like an option and we are faced with what is happening. We start to feel the loss of our loved one more abundantly." I believe that this is when we must give ourselves grace. However, if the depression continues, a professional therapist that specializes in grief may be warranted.
Acceptance "When we come to a place of acceptance, it is not that we no longer feel the pain of loss. However, we are no longer resisting the reality of our situation, and we are not struggling to make it something different." Here is where I sit. My loved ones are with Jesus, I cannot see them or hug them, but I can carry them in my heart. For me this is surrender. God’s ways and timing are perfect. Ultimately, He has numbered all our days, no one is promised tomorrow. I logically know this, but acceptance is a process.
What I know to be true, grief looks different for each of us. It is not a specific checklist that we process through once and we are done. God has made each of us unique, some of us linger in one area longer than another. No grief path is the same. The only person that will be with us forever is our Heavenly Father. He is the one that I go to as I process through these phases. He knows how I am knit together, and He is patient with me. My flesh yearns for yesteryear, but my spirit knows that I will see all of those that have gone before me again. That is called hope and for that I am grateful. If you are looking for a coach to walk through a transition and into a new season, please reach out for a FREE 30-minute Discovery Call. Would be honored to walk by your side.