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The Mourning Process

Aug 17, 2007
I think we, no, I should say I, often forget that grieving is an extremely individual process. No one can really experience grief in the way I do, and no one can experience it in the way you do. When the Lord says in Matthew 5:4, Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted, it seems to me he acknowledges that the comfort will be whatever works for the person and their state of grief.

Why is grief so particularized?

Our relationships are complex. Here I will use my mother as an example. Very often she and I had a troubled relationship. Frequently, I thought of her as angry. Even though she said often that she loved me I found it difficult to believe because she was so critical. Toward the last of her life, and, in her Alzheimer's, she became much sweeter, and I did often feel loved by her. I have had to admit to myself that I truly loved my mother and wanted her approval, above anyone else, but I didn't really like her for many years. If I'm honest she felt the same about me. What does this do to the grieving process? Unfortunately, it makes it a mixed bag. Part of me was very sad and grief stricken that she died, but part of me, a terribly hard admission for me, was relieved that I wouldn't be trying to live up to expectations I couldn't possibly attain to. I think the grief devotional gave me a chance to express the long term change in relationship for me and my mother and the always evolving nuances of it.

We grieve in the context of our current lives. If we are leading productive, happy lives, if we are loved and can express love, if we can have the freedom to make life giving choices, then we are going to be much healthier in our grieving. For some deaths which I have mourned, my life, my marriage, my finances, my personal well being have been in turmoil. Then grief just stirs the boiling pot. I tend to sink into depression and self-pity, to feel victimized by life and even God, to go into the "just one more thing for me to bear" mold. It's kind of a super grief and even feelings of being buried alive in the tomb with the person I'm grieving. I experienced this with my grandmother's death. Everything in my life seemed upside down, and I was having problems in my marriage and finances especially. I truly loved my grandmother, and she loved me. Her death was like the last straw in "why is the universe and everyone in it conspiring to kill me?" vein. I just couldn't seem to rise above any of my circumstances for healing or peace. It took me a good year or year and a half to begin to feel grounded again, this, because I went to therapy.

Our past is interwoven with our present. Past ideas about grief will rule. I was always from a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" family. That kind of philosophy leaves little time to grieve. I was ever helping with the funerals, making the financial plans around the will and estate of the deceased family member. The idea of just taking time for myself to grieve was considered selfish and uncaring of others. So grieving, in any way, except a very quiet and non-obtrusive manner, will never come easily to me. I think now I try to allow myself depression, anger, the intake of all the mental information about the loss and the outgo, the weeping and true grieving. But it will never be natural to me. I think there are still some very open wounds because I still find myself in avoidance and denial about many facets of grieving.

Our spiritual lives will have a deep impact upon us. I am a Christian, and I believe John 3:16 with all my heart. So my grief is never for the eternal life of my fellow Christian. I believe that is a fait accompli, and she is with the Lord. My sorrow is for me here, but I accept and breathe in deeply the consolation, the presence, the peace, the understanding and the love of the Lord that does not just tide me over and keep me surviving until better times, but helps me to prevail and find the joy even in the sorrow. I love the Bible quotes that seem to hold out so much hope, not for the present because the loss is always in the present, but for the future, to be the consolation for the foreverness of our souls. It is the passage on which our devotional is based. I believe Isaiah 61 is really about the Lord Jesus and who he will be to his people, that grief will be transformed and ultimately eliminated and that he will be there:

...to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3

The promise of the Lord is even more expansive than this passage from Isaiah because it provides even for eternity in Revelation.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:3,4
About the Author
Diana Burg is an author with several books. She writes novels, short stories, plays, screenplays and poetry. Her passion is writing.

Mourning Glory - A Devotional for Grieving is a book for those struggling through a loss and looking for support and comfort. http://www.amourningdevotional.com
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