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Let’s face it… painful emotions drain our energy so it’s only natural to avoid them. Often we hide our grief or bury it beneath anger and blame. But I implore you to choose a better path, even if it is with blood-shot eyes, take on grief with bravery.
Grief vs. Despair
Accepting grief does not mean we wallow in our misery. We can feel sad, even brokenhearted, downtrodden and depressed without remaining in a state of hopelessness and despair. Here’s how to do that.
FORGIVE – If anyone was the cause of your suffering, pray for the strength to forgive them. That includes forgiving yourself.
FIND THE DIAMONDS IN LIFE – No matter how small, find something to be grateful for. If your entire body is consumed in pain but you are breathing freely, focus on the ability your lungs have to give you life-sustaining oxygen. I know from experience that struggling to breathe is pretty scary.
SHARE, AND SYMPATHIZE – When we share our feelings and sympathize with others, it connects us to each other in a powerful way. And as you do, remember these “be”attitudes.
- Be real; allow people to see your imperfectness.
- Be patient; these things take time.
- Be compassionate with others and yourself
- Be-lieve that God will help you through the pain when you ask for His help
Here’s my recent story of grief
It is close to my heart, and even closer to my father’s heart.
I could hear the intensity in her voice as she questioned, “How far away are you?” “I’m not far.” I responded, trying to remain calm as I talked into my phone. “You need to get here as fast as you can because your dad’s heart rate is very unstable.” I held back the tears as I gathered the family. We quickly hopped into our vehicles and raced down the road to a hospital 20 minutes away. Suddenly, “not that far” stretched on like an eternity.
This was my father’s fourth heart attack.
He already had 6 bypasses and a stint keeping him alive. At 83 years of age, I knew his body couldn’t handle much more. I had been anticipating a call like this for a long time. I knew this was the end. I just wanted to see him alive one more time. I wanted one more smile from him and one more laugh from one more silly joke he told. I needed one more hug from him; just one would be enough. But the reality of the situation told me I would not get any of these things.
My husband dropped me off at the emergency exit so I could run inside. I was told my dad had been moved to the intensive care unit. We followed directions which took us to a waiting area on the 5th floor with an empty desk and a phone on the counter. After making the necessary call, they told us we could not come in yet. I wanted all the answers right then but they just didn’t have them. I was only slightly comforted by the logic that if he were dying at that moment, they would have let us in.
We found out later he had gone into cardiac arrest, with a heart rate down to 30 beats per minute. I don’t know how he survived, but he did. It was a long hard afternoon, trying to keep family and friends updated, while also attending to a very frail father. Keeping it all together emotionally was difficult. I’m glad both of my sisters and other loved ones were there with me.
My youngest (half) sister grew up with my dad and her mom in a different home than my other sister and me. The three of us had our first moments together alone with dad, sharing stories and even talking about the hard stuff like arrangements for the funeral (whenever that would be). We had a few more scary moments in the weeks to come but in the long run my dad made it through and he’s doing better now.
THESE are the diamonds in life; the really really important things that fuel our souls, strengthen bonds with loved ones and flood us with gratitude.
- I did get that one more smile and laugh and hug. I’ve received many. The greatest part about it is they all mean so much more to me than if my dad had shown up at my front door that day instead of me getting a call from the E.R. nurse.
- I spent valuable time, bonding with my sisters. This was such a rare gift. Our hectic lives and the necessities of our children, husbands, work etc. has kept us from enjoying that. I appreciate it more now.
- I watched my husband (and my sister’s husbands) sacrifice their entire afternoon to comfort and support their wives when we needed them. The three of them also gave my father a priesthood blessing, calling on God to sustain him, which He did. My dad said his pain immediately subsided after the blessing was given.
Yes, I experienced the deepest feelings of anguish on that long drive to the hospital, but on the other side of that pendulum swing, is the sweetest experience of joy. Trust in the balance of life, even when you’re in the depths of grieving. God will help you through to the other side of the pendulum.
Come with me on this journey of discovering the joy we can have beyond the heartache.
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