Grief: No “Right” Way

Grief: deep sadness caused especially by someone’s death. : a cause of deep sadness. (Miriam Webster)

… the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.

When someone important to us dies, it represents an end to what has been familiar for us, and we must adapt to that new—usually unwanted—reality.

I would add to “usually unwanted reality” surprised and possibly shocking reality.

When I was 17 and my brother was 14, our dad died suddenly. He had just started work for a new company, we were starting our Christmas decorations for that year, and life seemed to be rolling along well for our family—until it wasn’t. Suddenly and shockingly, everything changed.

My First Grief Experiences

As a 17 year-old, the only death I’d experienced—the first true grief—was that of my grandfather the year before. He lived across the state from us, and when he died, our family went. At least, most of the family; I stayed behind. I didn’t want to remember Granddaddy any other way than how I last saw him—so my parents let me stay home. Maybe they figured I’d need to work out my grief in my own way.

So when my dad died almost a year to the day later, I began to experience grief in a whole new light. I watched my strong, independent, “drill sergeant” mom fall apart; over the next days and weeks, she didn’t sleep, she had phantom illnesses, she stared into space for hours. My brother—who up to that point had been a fairly happy-go-lucky guy—over the next several months, became angry and rebellious and would often rage over small things.

Grief—there is no one way or right way to experience it.

As for my reaction to Dad’s sudden death—I pretty much remained calm and strong for everyone else. Because Dad was a WWII veteran, there would be no funeral or service for several weeks (his body was cremated) until our family could get to the National Cemetery. So for me, life went on. I picked up the slack around the house, I tried to calm my brother down, I went with Mom to the hospital when she thought something was wrong. My school choir was in the middle of rehearsals for a Christmas performance, so I went to rehearsals. I stayed busy with school and at home, and I spent a lot of time in my room, alone with my guitar.

There is Help.

Someone I Love Has Died: Everyone Grieves and No One Grieves Like Me  is a book where children can read about how grief is personal and individual for everyone; that there isn’t one way to grieve or to feel, that it is a process each person walks through differently. The coloring pages are available for filling in or doodling or writing, showing how unique grief is to each of us.

Karen Lindwall-Bourg also gives parents and care-givers tools with which to help guide children through their own grief process. “Written for grieving children, ages 3-99, and for those who walk this journey with them,” this little book will help people of all ages understand that grief isn’t static and that each person grieves in his or her unique way.

 

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Discipled by Jesus; Your Ongoing Invitation to Follow Christ, Robert Gelinas

My book review of Discipled by Jesus

“Jesus is ready, willing, and able to disciple you himself.”

In Discipled by Jesus; Your Ongoing Invitation to Follow Christ, Robert Gelinas instructs, teaches—disciples—us to see Jesus as our true, living teacher. Using history, teachings of Jesus Himself, other Biblical words of wisdom, as well as writings of other teachers of faith, he walks us through the importance of understanding that we not only need to focus on what we learn about Jesus—but we must include what we continually learn from Him. To be discipled isn’t just what we are taught by others; to be discipled is to learn from the Living Christ how to walk out our faith “to do the good works that He prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

When I was in college and a new Christian, it wasn’t uncommon for me to start my day by asking the Lord to tell me where He wanted me to go or what He wanted me to do that day—or to walk around campus asking Him to guide my next steps…literally! My young faith trusted Him and knew He was alive in my heart. But not long afterward, the local church I joined offered a discipleship program, and I started busying myself with various good activities that I thought defined me as a good disciple. Although the work I was doing was good and helpful, it wasn’t discipleship; it was more “pre-discipleship.” I lost the understanding of what it means to truly walk with Jesus.

In Discipled By Jesus, Robert reminds us that there isn’t a specific formula for us to follow that makes us His disciples or activities that make Him real. Jesus is alive to disciple us Himself, and as we seek Him and get to know Him, He prepares and sends us to disciple others to be discipled by Him. He wants us to go into the world—which may be far away or next door. “Living sent changes the way we see our circumstances…the Father sent the Son; the Son sends His disciples.”

Robert Gelinas is Lead Pastor at Colorado Community Church in Aurora, CO. In a world that seems to be more divisive every day, CCC reaches the heart of the people in this area. The multi-cultural congregation reflects a Godly perspective—and Robert’s (and CCC’s) Biblical call to be Worship-Driven, Spirit-Led,  Prayer-Dependent, Grace-Centered, and Kingdom-Obsessed—is a daily reminder of how we should live.