By Kelly Carr
I first stared into the face of grief when I was 5 years old—my prematurely born brother passed away at only 8 months old. Though I was just a child, I have snapshots of memories when grief surrounded my family.
As you know, the older we get, the more people we know who have gone on to Heaven. I recall a dear senior citizen facing a dire illness who said, “I know just as many people up there as I do down here. I’m good either way.”
The more experiences we have over the years, the more opportunities there are for us to discover grief in a variety of areas—from death to other losses. It may be tempting to want to shut ourselves off from future relationships so we don’t risk feeling hurt anymore. But then we would miss out on a ton of love and joy as well.
So we come to accept that grieving is a part of living. Yet that doesn’t make it any easier.
Grief Affects Us All
Though it’s a subject we may not think about or want to read about until we are going through it, grief in its various forms affects us all—and continues to do so throughout our lives. The articles in this issue are meant to help us process our own grief and find ways to help others who are currently grieving.
As you will be reminded several times in these articles, everyone grieves on a different time frame and finds different activities helpful to healing.
I tend to deal with grief later down the road from the actual moment of loss. I have noticed at the funerals of family members and friends in the past few years that I shed few tears at first. I’ve tried to evaluate this because I honestly felt a bit guilty at the time. I’m not a stoic person. I didn’t want people to think I didn’t care. Why wasn’t I crying? Perhaps it was shock. Perhaps I subconsciously felt I needed to be strong while others cried around me. Either way, it wasn’t until I was on my own, many weeks and months later, when memories would strike, the reality would set in, and the tears would come.
Some people shut themselves off when pain strikes. Others avoid the hurt by choosing self-destructive habits to distract themselves. And some of us don’t even realize that a change in our lives—a move, a strained friendship, a financial crisis, a medical diagnosis—is a situation that creates grief and something that we should allow ourselves to grieve over.
We Are Never Fully Prepared
We are never fully prepared for the moments that cause grief. Even when we know a death or a layoff or another major life upheaval is coming, we cannot truly grasp how our minds and emotions will process such loss. Surprise losses are even more upending. As I was preparing to put my thoughts down for this editorial, I received two pieces of news within a half hour of friends who suddenly experienced grief. One friend’s mom died unexpectedly. Another friend’s husband walked out on her and her children.
When will it ever feel better, and how are we expected to keep going? What can we do to ease others’ pain and provide the support they need?
The only thing I can contemplate is this: God promises us peace that goes beyond our understanding (Philippians 4:7). Though I feel helpless, I can pray for God to pour this supernatural peace into the hurting souls around me and into my own when my turn comes.