The anniversary of September 11, 2001 brings to remembrance the 2,996 deaths of loved family members and friends. Today my dad, a combat veteran of the Marines, returned home to Axehandle Lake (above photo) to live out his last days in hospice in peace at home. I have been contemplating death and loss. Over the past week, I have met with many friends, young and old, and have been reminded of grief and loss:
- A young man who lost his mom to cancer
- A friend who lost his dad
- A retired Lt Colonel who lost his wife of 52 years after faithfully loving and caring for her 10 years through Alzheimer’s.
- A wonderful couple who is grieving the loss of dreams for their sons who have seemed to stray far off the path they were raised and drifted away from their faith
- A young dad and 4 boys who lost a wife and mom to cancer in her early 30’s
- Friends who held their son for only 69 days before he passed into eternity
- A young couple who lost their little girl due to complications in the womb at 32 weeks
I have met with and talked to these friends and followed their stories this past week. It has caused me to contemplate my own losses:
- Our own two children who died prematurely before we could ever hold them, who we are looking forward to meeting and holding in heaven
- My mom’s unexpected passing a year ago
- Now I am preparing to lose my dad. It may be two weeks or two months, but I am soon to be the oldest generation in my family.
I have been reading and remembering things that have helped me through times of loss and grief. I am old enough to know there are no magic formulas, and I am no grief and loss expert, but here are some things that have helped me and others:
Be with friends and family and don’t become isolated.
Share emotions; get things out in the open.
Laugh and cry–both are OK. When my mom died, I cried harder than I can remember; I also laughed from sweet memories until I almost wet my pants.
Do normal things; keep a schedule. When we lost our first child, we got in a RV later that day and rode to Daytona for a week-long mission with students from our campus. It kept us from sitting around all week feeling sorry for ourselves.
Sleep. I have been so tired this week. That is normal.
Stay hydrated with lots of water.
Grieve at your own speed. It takes time; be patient with yourself. Don’t be concerned about feeling numb for awhile.
Don’t make major decisions in the midst of grief.
There is no timetable; Remember it is a process.
Turn to your faith.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Death: The Final Stage of Growth
What have you lost this year? What has helped you in your grieving process?
Other articles that you might find helpful:
Living with Hope-Steve Sawyer moved from rage over HIV to great hope. He shares how he had hope no matter what threw at him.
Is God good? Why is there suffering? A pretty cool 1:46 animated video.
Today we lost a great person…my mom. A tribute to my mom. Read it and maybe write your own.
The Fog of Grief (Thanks Jim R. for sending this resource.)