The bombing of the passenger jet in Ukraine on July 17, 2014, is tragic to say the very least. Two hundred and ninety eight individuals lost their lives. That jet explosion is also reminiscent of the terrible nine-eleven disaster where even more lives were lost. These acts of merciless violence leave many mourning, and a lot of homes will never be the same as a result. But one of the beatitudes gives this reassurance, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
It’s always heart-wrenching to lose a love one. There isn’t really a group of words that can effectively describe the ordeal. I know. I lost my older brother three years ago. Indeed, everyone has a different experience reacting to death, yet none of them are joyous. Just the realization of never being able to see or touch the decease ever again, is enough to shatter into pieces a perfectly good heart. It’s one thing if that person is lying in bed sick, and death is expected—it would still hurt, but at least the death wouldn’t be a surprise. However, what magnifies the pain is when that individual is healthy and strong one minute and is snatched away by death the next. Then the sorrow deepens.
We use various coping mechanism to deal with the loss of friends and families. The most common is crying. Crying is natural and second-nature. It is the number one way humans express grief. If Christ in his human form could cry, why shouldn’t we? John 11:35. He too felt heartache, and was sadden by the death of his friend Lazarus. He also cried over Jerusalem in Luke 19:41. His examples are the best indications that it is OK to cry. The length of the crying phase will vary from person to person, and that’s fine too. There is no set time-frame nor is there an on and off switch, so NEVER feel out of place for weeping. Though tears will not heal a broken heart, it may bring comfort.
Another common copying mechanism is denial. The profound trauma experience from losing a loved one can be too overbearing for some individuals to process. As a result, they may unconsciously slip into a “This-is-not-happening” phase. Short term denial as a means of coping has its place; it allows the mind to slowly absorb the distressing reality which will in turn minimize having a complete meltdown. Long term denial is unhealthy however, because constantly running away from reality offers no long term resolution.
Most times crying and self-denial go hand in hand as well. These are legitimate reactions to grief. There are other ways to cope and we all have our unique combinations. Notwithstanding, grieving is an unpleasant experience, yet it is the road that will eventually lead to recovery. Don’t be afraid to start the journey. We can be contented in knowing we’re not alone. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
See Part II Tuesday to discover the strength to press on!