Stages of Grief – With God’s Help It Is Like Going Across the Monkey Bars

I was watching a program the other night and someone on the show was grieving the loss of a loved one. Someone else on the program said something like “I understand that. You’ve lost a loved one. You will grieve that loss for the rest of your life”.

That bothered me. You see I, too have lost loved ones. I have lost grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and had miscarriages. Many years ago we lost our daughter when she was 10 months old following her 8th surgery. She had a lot of suffering, yet her life was full of joy. She touched lives and was a bucket of joy. We, of course, were completely devastated at her loss. Yet we knew to remain stuck in that total abject grief would belie her existence. Her giving and joyous nature brought out joy in others.

We joined a grief group at church. It was a 6-week workshop that taught participants various coping strategies and faith-based strategies. We still needed more support and contact with others after that. We went to counseling and we joined another group that wasn’t at our church. It was at that group that we were scared straight. Everyone there had suffered the death of a child (for some the child had been quite young, for others the child had been an adult in his/her 40s ~ and everywhere in between).

The meeting went the way most support groups went. Most of the people there had been working through their grief of the loss for 5 years, 10 years, or even more. They spoke as if the pain was brand new, and sobbed and cried. It seemed as though some of the people felt close to each other, and no doubt they were, as they had been active participants in this group for years and years. Their pain was excruciating. I do not know how they could keep bearing up under all of that grief.

It scared me straight. You see, I decided after attending these meetings a few times that I would go insane if 10 years from then I was still in that sad, frozen, grief filled state. I literally would not be able to handle that much sorrow for that long. I couldn’t believe that is what my husband and I were called to do. My husband and I knew we did have to work through our grief, but that this wasn’t the group that could help us get there. They were too filled with sorrow and pain to help each other get “unstuck”. The loss of a child is a an incredibly painful thing to go through. When you couple that with the subsequent infertility struggles it can seem insurmountable. But the mountain must be climbed. We climbed it, determined to move toward healing. You see, we knew that we would indeed be reunited with her in eternity. We grew and healed.

The weird thing about going through the stages of grief is that as you gain distance and perspective, and begin to heal, that deep pain goes away. Yet that deep pain was your connection to the loved one. As that wound heals, you are less able to sense or feel the person’s presence. That is a scary feeling, because you lose them in yet another way. You can think “hey I am callous and uncaring if I am not sobbing and crying”; but it isn’t true. The healing is supposed to come. It is o.k. Eventually you have to stop crying non-stop and live. You cry a bit less, and live a bit more. If you have suffered a loss, you know exactly what I mean.

The key to opening the door, moving on from grief, getting stronger and healing after loss begins with deciding to pick up God’s key and putting it in the door to your locked heart.

 

That reminds me of what Jon Stewart said a few weeks after 9/11. It was on his first show back after 9/11. He said that after 9/11 he didn’t see the point of comedy, writing, or performing. He was in shock, despondent, and didn’t think he could do it anymore. He said that he tried to re-think his life and come up with another job to pursue. Then he added “but frankly there really weren’t ANY jobs available for a man curled up in a fetal position beneath his desk”. Man did that hit home for me. I cried and laughed at the same time when he said it. It put it in perspective. We must get out from under the desk and get to work, even if it is hard and makes us cry.

When we climb out we see that we are not alone after all. We were only alone when we WERE curled up in a fetal position under our desks. You see, there wasn’t room for anyone else under that desk to give us strength for the journey when we were walled off in our grief. In the act of climbing up from that floor of sorrow, we gained enough strength to reach out.

When you reach out, of course you can look around you and look up. When you look around you can see the community God sends you. When you look up, you see Him. When you look up you see that there are monkey bars that will lead you straight across that swamp of sorrow, if you only grab on and keep moving. As C.S. Lewis put it “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward”. ~

The joy, of course can be found when you begin to move forward.

 

About Kate Kresse

I love to write, I love to talk, I love to uplift people when I can. I am a woman in love with life. I am a wife, mom, tutor, writer, and I am a perennial optimist. (OK not every single minute but you get the point! :-)
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22 Responses to Stages of Grief – With God’s Help It Is Like Going Across the Monkey Bars

  1. Ray's Mom says:

    Good analysis of grief. Having a first hand experience of death and grief, I will add my two cents worth.

    There are varying degrees of grief and each person deals with their loss in different ways. Soon after losing my son Ray, a person referred me to a group, Parents of Murdered Children. All have lost a child or a close family member, some such as our family have experienced the roadblocks and brick walls of the justice system. Each member is searching for a way to move forward, but there are triggers that bring it all crashing back – they understand and offer a phone line that can be used by a member in that desperate loneliness of dealing with hardcore law enforcement and the justice or injustice system.

    The WordPress and Facebook family has been an outstanding support for healing. Thank you for your words of kindness and understanding.

    • Kate Kresse says:

      I cannot even imagine the inexplicable grief and sorrow of having your son murdered and having to fight the justice system on top of crushing grief. And you are so right that unexpected things DO bring it all crashing back many years later. There were some days that the depth of my grief was so severe that I just plain wanted to die. On days like that, the only thing that kept me from killing myself to escape the pain was my belief that if I did so I never would see my little girl again. The pain of holidays, birthdays, and other occasions without her was indescribable. Seeing other families who still had their children crushed me too. And that was after the loss of our child after months of hospital ins and outs with surgeries. If she had been murdered and we had gone through what you are going through~~a support and advocacy group would be my saving grace.
      I have gone through other (non-death) experiences where a regular support group was ESSENTIAL in every way.
      You are ever in my prayers as you walk the journey you must walk for your son. I wish you grace, love, and hope today. Ray is in your heart ~ and no one can remove him from the roundtower of your love.

  2. jelillie says:

    Oh thank you Kate! This was so good and so needed by so many. It speaks to me as I work through a personal loss too. May I reblog this?

  3. Caddo Veil says:

    Kate, this is a dynamite post–maybe your best and most needed one by the community. Bravo, sincere thanks, God bless you for shining His light! love, sis Caddo

  4. So much wisdom here in your post on grief. I wholeheartedly agree. Everyone must go through their season of grief in their own way but we have to reach that point where we ‘look out and look up’ from the grief and make the choice/decision to move forward. It’s never easy, but the Lord guides us on our way when we let Him.

    • Kate Kresse says:

      it isn’t easy—and each of us arrives at that point once or over and over and pushes through the best we can under the circumstances. He will see us through it, but the grief still happens. He just sees us through it.

  5. dogear6 says:

    I think you & your husband were wise to move on past your grief. I used to walk in the cemetery by our house when we lived in Iowa. One of the children’s graves was decorated to the hilt all the time, even years after the little girl’s death. I always wondered if the mother was able to live a normal life with her deeply her grief was still there.

    Nancy

    • Kate Kresse says:

      the poor woman. i am guessing the only way she was comforted was to have that shrine for her daughter. normal took on a new meaning for her, didn’t it? my grandparents lived near Ames, Iowa and we visited them there sometimes. it was so pretty.

  6. misswhiplash says:

    I have lost both parents and although not lost a living child I had numerous miscarriages. I did not mourn my Mother, she was at peace with the \Lord..no more Cancer no more pain…That was 1969…..43 years ago…I have a photo on my dressing table, sometimes I talk to her and there have been many times I wished she were still here..but she is not!
    I can understand intense grief but where does it get you? The person who has passed will not return regardless of the number of tears which fall…so look to the future, not to the passed. Those dear persons that we love so much are quite safe with God and one day we shall meet again

    • Kate Kresse says:

      I think people get lost in their grief because the sorrow of their absence can be so deeply felt. I know that as I journeyed through grief, and as the sorrow lessened it was upsetting in a way. that deep sorrow was my last way to feel their presence. as the sorrow faded it was harder to feel them with me. it was a comfort always to know they were safe in God’s arms and I would see them again.

  7. Debbie says:

    Beautiful post, dear Kate.
    You are both kind and wise.
    It can be very hard to crawl out from under that desk and you’re right, some never do.
    Your candle is certainly burning. 😀
    Thank you for sharing your light with us.

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Thanks Debbie. Some days we can barel stagger out from under it; like a newly hatched chicken we are ~ wet, be-draggled and staggering. Thanks so luch for reading and commenting. hugs and joy to you~

  8. Your faith really shows, Kate. I haven’t lost a child, so I’m always in complete awe at parents who find a way to go on. I so admire what you’ve shared here. You really are an amazing woman. Debra

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Debra~thanks. You just are called to hoe the row you are in. The terrain gets rough for each of us sometimes. I am grateful for your kind words—and will try to live up to them. ❤ kate

  9. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Very timely for me, as my father passed away the day you posted this. I am just now catching up on my messages and reading my subscribed WordPress blogs. My father is in a much better place now, peace and wholeness with His Maker. He had lived an hour away, but I miss knowing I can talk to him anytime. A man of much wisdom …

  10. Very good, cuz’!
    I always heard it normally takes about 2 years to get “over the hump”. I think God made us that way so we would not be overwhelmed with all the grief at once.
    After reading this, though, I realize “normal” includes God. Those who do not have God take far longer. Or they just pretend and never actually deal with it.
    However, we do need to come to a place where we can get up and walk. Your comments above made me think of a newborn colt. If it doesn’t get up, weak though it is, it cannot receive nourishment from its mother. So the mare nuzzles it up, for its own good. And THAT reminds me of a famous singer who lost his fiance in a car wreck. After a while he wrote a song that included the line, “Get up; tie your shoes . . . ” and we all need someone to come alongside, nuzzle us out of the eggshell, off the ground, out from under the desk, or however we want to picture it, and UP onto our feet again.
    I would like to add: The loss from natural death, be it from old age, accidental tragedy, or horrible illness, at any age, produces one type of mourning. But loss from wrongful death, be it murder, carelessness, or suicide, produces another, that takes far longer than 2 years. And divorce is in this category of wrongful loss, although the lost one is not dead (which, in one way, often makes it even harder). Many, many, many people are out there, not dealing with their losses, but stuffing them inside, because of fear, shame, or distraction caused by the fact that the death or loss was wrongful. They often deal with their losses by becoming angry. We have a lot of angry people.

    • Kate Kresse says:

      What an important distinction that is….my goodness, to have to get out from under the grief of a loss and forgive the one that took that life (whether it be wrongful death, murder, suicide, divorce, or many other things) makes is so very difficult to heal. God sees us through the grief and walks with us. He lifts the weight of the grief, yet the sorrow and sense of loss is still there—i LOVE our mare analogy… so beautiful…..

      God urges us forward,and often sends someone into our lives to move us forward….praise be to Him. He sends us all that we need….thanks for your comments….love you cuz/twin,

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