“I’m sorry to tell you that your sister died.” 1987
“One of the twins didn’t form and you lost him.” 1988
“Dad committed suicide last night.” 1991
“I’m afraid you are going to need surgery on your neck. You have five slipped disks and may not get full use of your left arm.” 2006
“You need to come right away – if you want to say goodbye to her.” Mother-In-Law, 2006.
“I’m sorry to inform you, you have the beginning stages of cancer and it has spread throughout your entire reproductive system.” 2006
“She’s DEAD!” Sister-In-Law, three months later – 2007
“Your dog is fifteen years old and is suffering. I recommend that you put him down.” 2007
“I am going on tour mom. Headed to Baghdad in a few months.” 2007
“I don’t love you like a husband should love a wife.” 2007
“You need to get to the hospital now.” I arrive and am told, “Mom’s dead.” 2008
“I’m getting married and moving to Washington.” Last child to leave the nest - 2011
"Another corporation bought us out. Co-workers are quitting and positions are being terminated left and right as the new company is down-sizing." 2012
“Your divorce is granted.” 2013
“I hate to be the one to tell you, but your best friend shot herself.” 2013
HELLO … MY NAME IS GRIEF.
Believe me when I say that I have seen my share of grief in my short time on this earth. Sometimes I was given the grace of having at least a decade to recover and then there were years when it just kept coming. Whether it was my health, or a death of a loved one, and even the death of my marriage. Grief just seemed to be a huge part of my life. I finally have come to terms with the journey it can take. There is healthy grief and then there is unhealthy ways to cope with grief. I’ve done both.
There are times when I scratch my head and wonder, “How did I survive that?” Yet here I am, still breathing and somehow still able to function. Every loss in life is here to teach us something. The lessons are personal and beautiful in their own way. Grief taught me how to forgive, and step past my fears. It provided me with an insurmountable amount of courage to embrace a ‘new normal’ and to let go of full control. I had no control over not one of the losses that I had gone through.
The year 2007 was an especially hard year for me to get through. I don’t even know how to put that year into words at the moment. There were times when I just wanted to blow my brains out just to end the pain. Alcohol helped at times, but with the history of addiction in my family, I put the brakes on before the hook went in too far. I was wise to do so. I saw death on a daily basis at my job, as I work in the funeral industry. I have wiped many a tear and counseled literally hundreds of people. I just couldn’t help myself get through a lifetime of loss.
I decided it was time to get professional help and stayed in counseling for ten months. It was during this time when my counselor talked with me near the end of my time with her and said, “Kim, God is going to use this somehow. How can you glorify Him with all that He has gotten you through?” So I began to ask Him. “What are you teaching me, Lord?” No, I didn’t hear claps of thunder and there was no lightning dancing across the sky. Slowly I learned (and I am still learning) that God is truly in control.
Grief taught me more than to endure and to find courage. Grief showed up at my door like a hooded enemy and I even gave it names. Actually there appeared to be three hooded entities all together. Their names were Fear – Loss & Change. They stayed with me around the clock. I woke up and there they were … I took long walks and they remained close by my side. I even began to set a place for them at the dinner table for them. The nights were the worst. Fear would speak and say, “You never going to get through this.” Loss was like the buffer of the three and would whisper, “You got this.” Change was slow to speak and it was like he never spoke with words, but would simply show me things. I began to have vivid visions and my desire for change grew stronger and stronger with each passing day.
Sleep slowly came as peace began to flow over my Fear. Loss taught me how to accept the things I cannot change and serenity became my friend. I recall a Summer afternoon when I knew it was time to step out completely. I had finally discovered three new hooded entities that knocked upon my door. They exchanged slight smiles with Fear – Loss and Change as they entered my life. I named them as well. I call them Faith – Hope and Love. These days, I call them by name on a daily basis to keep me company. They gave me the courage to change and grow. They comforted me and guided me to make smart choices for my future. I have long and loving conversations with them every single day. They helped me simply accept. I might have a long way to go, but looking back I know how far they have helped to carry me to where I find myself today.
Grief is not our enemy. Grief is a great teacher of life. It is simply a part of God’s hands, like to potter the Bible speaks about. His gentle hands forming us into the likeness of the Darling of Heaven. It can be a tough lesson to embrace. The art of surrender is not an easy thing to do when we as humans want to take control. When I feel out of control and need to surrender, I call on Faith. Faith whispers, “I’m always here for you.” Hope has taught me about boundaries and the art of simply being still. Ahhh … and then there is LOVE. Love is the greatest of all of these. Love holds no wrongs. Love bears all things. Loves hopes all things. Love endures all things.
So the next time you suffer loss of any kind, try to recognize that Fear, Loss and Change are there to teach you first. Faith, Hope and Love will never leave you nor forsake you. Embrace what each one is there to teach your soul. Don’t try to put on your mask to try to fool the world that you have everything under control. Don’t mask it with drugs, alcohol, sex, work, fitness, eating, or any of the other addictive behaviors. Simply FEEL what it is doing inside of your soul. Introduce yourself when it approaches you and says,
“Hello. My name is Grief.”