What is grieving?
Grieving is a process during which we feel more intensely the emotion of sadness due to a loss. It is a period of intense emotional pain and suffering. In that process, we are in a state of suffering that we cannot avoid and that we are inevitably faced with.
Grief is an inevitable part of life. It comes unannounced and is always unwelcome. Like it or not, we have to endure sadness. We feel sadness when we have lost something or someone or when our longings are not fulfilled or when we think about what could have been.
We don’t want to suffer, but we are forced to.
Since losses or missed opportunities are a part of life, the grieving process is actually a healing process. Life continues to flow and if we want to feel better and start living life again, we have to go through this period as well. If we don’t, we will most likely remain stuck, hoping (mostly unrealistically) to somehow regain what we lost.
Process – a state that lasts
It is natural when we find ourselves in a state of grief that we want to get out of that state as soon as possible. We don’t want to suffer pain. Grieving is a process that also disrupts daily life.
In the beginning, the feeling of sadness is very strong, when we realize that we have lost something or someone, or later when something reminds us of our loss. In addition to sadness, there is a feeling of anger and hopelessness.
However, we cannot get out of grieving quickly. That is why it is called a process. We have to go through pain to make progress.
The way of grieving
The only way to stop grieving is to get to know grief and let it be a part of our lives for a while. And that’s not easy. To walk hand in hand with sadness through life. We cannot ignore our grief, but we must not let it strangle us.
Grief affects daily life and changes routine. And that’s okay. If necessary, we will not go to work for a while or we will leave home duties when we need to grieve… When we suffer we can cry, shout, scream. We can grieve alone or in the presence of another person. However we process our pain – it is important that we process it.
Here is one of the encouraging verses from the Bible:
A 23. psalm of David.
The LORD is my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
he keeps my soul alive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
they protect me.
We most often associate the word grieving with the loss of someone close to us. Such grieving is considered the most intense, the most painful. However, a person also goes through the grieving process when he/she experiences losses of another kind.
In the following paragraphs, we will consider what kind of losses we most often face.
Loss of a loved one
It is love that binds us together and unites us with other people. The first love that is experienced is the love that a mother gives to a newborn. Through this love, the child learns to love other people.
Love is a strong emotion without which a person would not be a person, a human being.
When we lose someone we loved, we often feel like we’ve lost a part of ourselves. A lost life is the most painful because it cannot be returned and death cannot be undone.
However, for those who believe in God, there is something called “grieving with hope.” Hope and faith that they will meet their loved ones again one day are based on faith in eternal life. Furthermore, faith in eternal life is based on faith in the resurrected Christ.
Loss of a pet
People who live with pets perceive them as part of their family. A dog or cat brings joy and companionship. We love pets as members of our families, for some they give meaning and purpose in life. Therefore, when we lose a pet, we also go through the grieving process. It is a completely natural state and feeling and we should not be ashamed of it.
Losses incurred during the war
Losses incurred in the war include all possible losses. Given that war brings with it a great destructive force, losses are inevitable in all areas of life.
Loss of life, whether human or animal.
Loss of property
Loss of education
Losing a part of childhood
Loss of connection with parts of the family – separation
Loss of homeland
Possible loss of identity (if we build an identity based on national affiliation)
Loss of contact with reality – what we lived until yesterday no longer exists.
Grieving is an ongoing process. It lasts as long as it takes the person to return to the previous state, but this time with the awareness that something has been lost.
When and how do we know if we are over it or healed?
The first sign is when we return to the daily routine of life. When we sleep at night when our appetite has returned and we perform work functionally. What used to “spoil” our everyday life is now present briefly, mainly as a response to reminders of loss.
Another sign is the fact that we endured. We fought and managed to accept the loss, to bear it and carry it with us, but no longer as a burden, but as a part of life. The loss happened, the past cannot be brought back, but we continue to live.
A sign of healing can be also the awareness of one question, “Can I learn anything from the loss?” When it comes to losing something material, the answer may be easier: “What doesn’t break me makes me stronger.” The loss of a job can be compensated, a person can come out of such an experience more patient, and emotionally stronger.
With the loss of life, the question may seem pointless. Because the loss of life cannot be compensated. And actually, this is not about compensation, but about mental and spiritual growth. A person who has gone through the grieving process usually carries with self greater empathy and understanding for those who experience the same.
Unfortunately, a person can also remains in a state of “eternal” resentment and anger.
Healing does not mean forgetting the loss. When it comes to a person, it is simply impossible. We cannot forget the ones we loved. And when the grieving process passes or ends, there will be moments when we faint, cry again, and feel that we miss a loved one. And that’s perfectly fine. In those moments, we should stop and mourn that moment as well.
God as my hope
We cannot understand God. And many times we don’t like God’s will or we blame him for the bad things in life. Sometimes we wonder if God exists, why does he allow evil things to happen.
Well, for christians the true is next: God is not far from us even when we suffer and when we are angry with him. He is omnipresent, He has not left us to go through suffering alone.
He doesn’t expect us to walk through the “valley of the shadow of death” on our own (Psalm 23:4)
He doesn’t require that we have our own strength but to know that “He is our strength” (Habakkuk 3:19)
He doesn’t demand that we muster up our own source of understanding but to “trust in the Lord with all our hearts” (Proverbs 3:5)