Loss. It comes in many forms. Death of a loved one, divorce, family separation, abandonment or other forms of loss from someone important to you. Many of us know these experiences. Grief is a natural response to these losses. Loss can make you feel lonely and as though no one understands or cares. In a way, you’re exactly right, we are the experts on our grief. But others can be helpful.
The month of July is set aside for a unique group of grievers—a group that endures the permanency of loss that cannot be fixed with reconciliation, transitional ministries, parenting classes or through the court system. There is no earthy solution for putting their family back together again. This month recognizes grieving parents that have lost their children due to death. We are two of those parents. Like so many more, we are figuring out how to move forward with a fractured future after saying goodbye to our children with only memories of them on this side of heaven.
Though your grief may not be the same as those that are being recognized this month, we believe it can be just as challenging, possibly one of life’s biggest. Sometimes overwhelming, other times battling shock, guilt and great sadness. But there is a very important question we must answer. How do we move forward with hope and healing?
Coping with loss and getting on the journey of healing can be daunting especially if, like us, you did not have sufficient coping tools in your emotional tool belt for dealing with loss. In most cases, until it happens to someone in our circle, we likely haven’t seen others cope with loss openly so we don’t know what to do. So we do nothing except suffer.
While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, we fully believe there are healthy ways to navigate the healing process. We want you to know that you are not alone in your journey so we have developed a list of coping strategies for people experiencing loss, a way to dig DEEPER.
D. Drink (hydrate) and eat. You have to take care of yourself by paying attention to the bare necessities your body needs for survival.
E. Exercise. Move, get active, even short walks with a time of meditation can help. Sweat is a great substitute for tears.
E. Express yourself. Journaling, talking to friends, a minister or counselor are just a few of the ways you can release what you are feeling. There are also creative ways of expression that can facilitate healing; scrap-booking or doing things with your hands. Remember that outwardly crying can be healing as well. We believe tears are like medicine and cleans the soul.
P. Pray. Talk to God. Even when you feel no one understands what you are dealing with, there’s always one person who does. You can find comfort from and through your faith even if you are not sure it is there.
E. Expect it to get better. This is not the denial of pain, but rather looking and moving forward towards healing and hope.
R. Rest. Your energy needs to be replenished. Even though it may be difficult for you to sleep it is essential for you to insist that your body gets what it needs. Try to get at least 7 hours of deep sleep.
Your grief and loss journey is unique and exclusively yours, but do not fall into the trap of experiencing it alone. We need each other for strength, but we also need God’s help. Lean on Him and seek out others as you practice DEEPER healing on your way to the healthy post-grief event life you deserve.
Editor’s note: This post was written by Bradley and Bonita Vinson. Bradley serves as Manager of web and multimedia services for Buckner International. On May 11, 2016, the Vinsons' 4-year old granddaughter – their “grand-princess” Alanna – died in a tragic accident. They entered an unexpected grief journey, but have also answered the call to serve others on this hardest of paths. Bonita offers encouragement to other grieving grandmothers. Bradley serves in multiple capacities within the grieving community as an advocate, speaker, and trainer directly to grievers and those that care for them. The tragedy also spurred him to create a blog, podcast, and book to help others cope with grief. You can find out more at www.goodgriefbook.com