Grief can come from loss of dreams and hopes. The 5 stages of grief are a process when grieving loss. My story on how I coped with grief…
Topics Covered: Grieving Stages, 5 Stages of Grieving, Grieve, Stages of Grieving
The Stages of Grief – Coping With Grief and Loss
by Tony Woods
Grief can come when you experience the loss of dreams and hopes. The grief stages are a process when grieving loss. My story on how I coped with grief
Grief can come from broken expectations, dreams and hopes. For example the loss of a job, home, cherished item, money or part of your body. It can also come as the result of the loss of relationships, such as with friends or parents, with divorce or the death of a loved one. It happens to all of us sooner or later.
Once, a mountain stood before me that I had only seen in my nightmares. My son was diagnosed with leukemia and given only months to live. We looked for a miracle. But eight months later, I held him in our arms as his heart slowed to a stop, and Heaven became a more precious place.
To help you see how I overcame grief I’ve used the story of Abraham in the Bible and let it illustrate in allegory form my grief process. Abraham had been commanded by God to take his son to the top of a mountain and there to sacrifice him. The thought was abhorrent to him, but he set out in obedience. On the way, his son asked, “Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7) In the father’s response lies one of the Bible’s most enigmatic revelations: “God will provide the lamb?”
Did Abraham believe that? And if so, then he must have been searching for a lamb as they climbed together. It was only until all hope had been abandoned and the knife was raised that God intervened.
As I watched my own son dying, I also was looking for anything that would serve as a substitute to relieve my pain. Abraham found that God provided a substitute – a lamb.
When we are grieving or in emotional pain we will look for anything to help relieve the hurt. We look for coping strategies or mechanisms. Those substitutes that we look for to relieve the pain, I have called ‘lambs’. Each one offered hope, but each one was inadequate and unable to bring the relief I so desperately longed for.
I can see now that each substitute ‘lamb’ was an attempt to turn me away from God’s provision. I’ve given them names, the better to recognize them when they return, as they most certainly will. They are no strangers to anyone in grief.
“Why is this happening to me!” I cried. In an attempt to cope, I blamed myself and others; including God, for my loss. Anger can manifest itself in many ways. The ‘lamb of anger’ would convince me that if my grief was someone else’s fault, then maybe I could deal with it. But this only resulted in more injury and more grief. When I chose to shift the blame and forgive myself and others the anger left.
The ‘lamb of denial’ suggests that the best way to deal with grief is to insist that it’s not there. “It’s not happening to me!” I declared, which brought distraction rather than confrontation. I learnt that I could not begin the first step to freedom and healing while denying and covering up the deep wound. It was not until I was honest with myself and admitted I was hurting and acknowledged the loss that the healing began.
We’ve all been taught the value of barter: the more valuable the commodity the higher the price. The ‘lamb of trade’ would convince me that my grief could be exchanged. “God, I promise to be a better person if you would”, I said as I tried to bargain with God. I had to remind myself that God is God, the Creator of the universe, and that his love is unconditional.
When grief can no longer be denied, beaten or bartered away the ‘magician’s lamb’ waits in the shadows until grief has blinded a person beyond rational thought. “Your help lies in power beyond your understanding,” he declares. This is the most dangerous ‘lamb’ of all, because he would lead you away from the only real Source of healing: God Himself.
The ‘demon lamb’ prefers to let his subordinates chisel away at a person’s faith that is made weaker by grief. But he is never far away, and always willing to mount an attack. His weapon is deceit; he uses it well, and drawing his victims into constant depression.
Stress from unresolved grief can affect us both emotionally and physically. The Hebrew word for ‘grief’ means to be diseased, sick, weak, sorrowful or wounded, therefore we can assume that many illnesses may have their origin in unresolved grief.
These ‘lambs’ are visitors along the grief process. Each has its own technique, but the goal is the same: to pull the grieving man or woman away from a comforting God. During our eight-month ordeal, and in the years following the death of my son, each of those ‘lambs’ has tried to pull me away from God’s love and comfort. At times, I was tempted to remain in my grief and allow negative thoughts to take over. But when the waves of grief threatened to sweep over me I looked to God for comfort and found amazing strength to overcome.
In working through the grief process, there had to be a point at which I made a decision to release my boy and look ahead. I still miss him! There will always be an empty place in my heart. But God has surrounded that empty place with His own healing, helping me stand again and praise Him for His mercy. He loves you, too, and wants to be with you and comfort you in your pain.
Watch the video called, ‘Living Free’ and discover how much God loves you.
Tony found that the 5 stages of grief were a process when grieving his loss. This has been his story of how he coped with grief…