• by Didymus McHugh

    When was the last time that we thought about grieving? People grieve many changes in their lives. We grieve losing a job, a divorce, death moving or any change. But do we really understand what it is to grieve?

    They say that there are five to nine stages of grief. The five that are common are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Some people think that you go from step one through step five in an order, but grief is not that neat and clean, that predictable. A person can spend a long or short time in any of these phases. They can revisit any phases many times.

    You can go from Denial to Anger to Bargaining to Anger again to Depression to Anger again to Acceptance to Depression, it all depends on the individual.

    Let’s look at the death of someone who died from being sick or old. The Family may have been taking care of the individual for years, Even though they understand that the person’s may be now at peace but it still does not remove the pain. They find out that they person died. Then they have to notify the relatives. They may have to be there as they body is removed. They have to notify the house of worship and start the funeral home. They go back to the residence without the family member and have to pick out the clothes for the funeral, find all the paperwork, pick out a casket or urn, prepare the service, pick out where to have a repast and the menu and who to invite for the repast. Will it be open or closed casket, will there be a viewing or not, how to write the obituary? Then when all this is done, they go home and sleep in the residence without the person. But the toothbrush is still there. The clothes may still be out, mail to be read, pictures out, so many reminders.

    On the day of the service, they have to sit there for a few hours and look at the body, the vessel that carried the soul, the essence of the person. People come to give comforting words, but most times people do not know what to say to comfort. Do they really comfort or do they only make things worse? Many people do not know what to say. Most of the times, just being with the person silently is what they need. Then comes the service in the funeral home. It may be painful if the faith leader, or person doing the service does not know the person or does not attempt to comfort the person. If it is a member of service, the entire funeral process may make matters worse. Has anyone thought about how it might be to sit through the ceremony and watching emergency services come through? 

    The family may watch the casket loaded into the hearse and then they have to sit there as the procession gets ready and drive past the house and possibly the station. Then watch everything at the gravesite. The casket come out, everyone line up, the service, hearing Taps or Amazing Grace.
    You have the repast, which may only be family. The family needs their own time. I remember that my family usually said that the only time that we got together were for weddings and funerals.

    The family goes back to the house and has all the reminders, while the wound is still fresh. But what else are they to do? The may need help dealing with the paperwork and all. Some companies only give two days to grieve the loss of a close family member. No time is given for those extremely close friends or distant relatives. The pain may comeback after the work day is over.

    Months may go by until they decide to deal with the persons belongings. People may want this or that to remember their loved one. People may not even touch any of the possessions because it may cause them too much pain. 

    Events that go by may trigger the grieving process again, the person’s birthday, the holidays, special  landmarks in time or place, a smell that reminds them of the person, a song…. Just like Critical Incident Stress has many triggers, so does grieving, after all it is a critical incident. Sometimes may just want to sit there and experience the grief because they may be afraid that when they stop grieving they may forget the person.

    God says that we should love one another. Being there to be with someone as they grieve is a sign that you care. Maybe by helping someone figure out the paperwork or what to do with the possessions. My friend told me that it was a great help as we cleaned out a relative’s house. We sat there for hours and talked as we went through everything. We figured out where it was to go, who it would go to or would we throw it out. We saw things from our childhood and started to laugh, once in a while, at the things that they saved from years ago, or what we had from years ago.

    It is perfectly fine for someone to mourn. We all need time to process our losses. As I write this, someone of my clients, that I know from about 30 years ago died, one of my friends relatives died and someone that means a lot to me have been diagnosed with leukemia. I myself am mourning losses with my friends, as well as preparing myself for things that are inevitable. I know that I may be devastated when the person passes but I also plan to remember the person close to me and I plan on honoring the person with my service, thoughts and actions.

    Children have a harder time, at times, dealing with grief. There are people who can assist with grief. There are counselors and also some camps that help also, like Comfort Zone Camps. Comfort Zone is a nation-wide camp to assist children when they have challenges dealing with their own grief.
    I ask that you be there to grieve with those who mourn and be patient. It is okay just to be there and silent, when you do not know what to say. It is part of caring for people and being part of a family. We will all grieve at one time or another.

    Stay safe!