October 31, 2019
Rev. Darrell James
STAGE ONE : WE ARE IN A STATE OF SHOCK
God has so made us that we can somehow bear pain and sorrow and even tragedy. However, when the sorrow is overwhelming, we are sometimes temporarily anesthetized in response to a tragic experience. We are grateful for this temporary anesthesia, for it keeps us from having to face grim reality all at once. This shock stage--perhaps it should be called a counter shock-may last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to a few days. If it goes on for some weeks, it probably is unhealthy grief and professional help ought to be sought. Shock is a temporary escape from reality.
As long as it is temporary, it is good. But if a person should prefer to remain in this dream world rather than face the reality of his loss, obviously it would be very unhealthy. Even though a person does come out of the initial shock, he will undoubtedly experience times in the succeeding days and months when the unreality of the loss comes over him again. Every now and then he will say, "I just can't believe it has happened.
Intellectually I know it did happen, But I guess I just have not really accepted it emotionally. "For all of us the biggest hurdle is "accepting it emotionally." we just do not want to believe it, and so unconsciously we set as many barriers in the way as possible, making complete acceptance a very slow process.
STAGE TWO : WE EXPRESS EMOTION
Emotional release comes at about the time it begins to dawn upon us how dreadful this loss is. Sometimes without warning there wells up within us an uncontrollable urge to express our grief. And this is exactly what we ought to do: allow ourselves to express the emotions we actually feel. We have been given tear glands, and we are supposed to use them when we have good reason to use them. In our society is very difficult for men to cry, because they have been taught as little tots that boys do not cry.
Many men think that crying is not only a sign of weakness, but that letting themselves go emotionally might lead to a nervous breakdown." This has been disproven for years, yet men seem not to understand that it is the person who holds himself tense, who refuses to let go, who may be in trouble. The Scriptures clearly show that when great calamities came to the hardy men of faith they wept" bitterly; their "tears were with the all the night long."
when we speak about emotional release, it reminds us of the whole subject of emotions and our faith. Are e saying that relation would advocate emotionalism? No, but neither are we in favor of an emotionless religion. Emotion is essential to a person and to try to repress it is to make one less than a person. To bottle it up unnecessarily is to do ourselves harm. We ought to express the grief we feel. Some will be too embarrassed to grieve openly; they can go off by themselves and let their grief take its natural course in any of a variety of ways.
STAGE THREE : WE FEEL DEPRESSED AND VERY LONELY
Eventually there comes a feeling of utter depression and isolation. It is as if God is no longer in His heaven. As if God does not care. It is during these days we are sure that no one else has ever grieved as we are grieving. It is true; no one has ever grieved exactly as we are grieving because no two people face even the same kind of loss in the same way. But the awful experience of being utterly depressed and isolated is a universal phenomenon. When we find ourselves in the depths of despair, as some readers may even at this moment, we should remind ourselves that this is to be expected following any significant loss and that such depression is normal and a part of good healthy grief.
When we are depressed, we find ourselves thinking thoughts we never have otherwise. We say God does not care. We may even doubt that there I a God. In the Scriptures we hear strong men like David in the Psalms crying out in their isolation, "Why are you cast down, 0 my soul?....My soul is cat down within me,.....I say to God, my rock, why has Thou forgotten me?...My adversaries taunt me, while they en continually, 'Where is your God?"
What we must never forget about a depression experience is that one day it will pass. Dark days do not last forever. The clouds are always moving, though very slowly. One of the most helpful things we ca do for a friend at such a time is to stand by that friend in quiet confidence and assure him or her that this, too, shall pass. The friend will not believe us at first and will tell us we do not know what we are talking about. A congregation of religious people ought to live up to the well known description of "the community of the concerned."
STAGED FOUR :
WE MAY EXPERIENCE PHYSICAL SYMTOMS OF DISTRESS
As a clergyman in a medical center, where I have worked closely with doctors and their patient for many years, I have slowly become aware of the fact that many of the patients I see are ill because of some unresolved grief situation. Some of these people who have physical symptoms of distress have stopped at one of the stages of the ten-stage grief process. Unless someone can help them to work through the emotional problems involved in the stage in which they seem to be fixed, they will remain ill. No amount of medicine will significantly change the situation.+
In situations like this, where grief is so important a factor in the illness, we can see why doctors and ministers and others, such as social workers and nurses, must join forces so that more than just the physical symptoms can be treated. Every man and every woman, it order to live a rich and meaningful life, must take a turn at being a philosopher, to search for meaning in living.