Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:31
The ongoing theme of this podcast is to Speak Life to your situation. How do you “speak life” to someone going through the grieving process? Death is a part of life. Nobody likes it. It comes in all forms and never when you are ready. Grief is a part of the human experience, and we grieve not just for the person who has died, but also for the part of our life they take with them
Here are three suggestions on what to say when someone is grieving that is not insensitive, or cliché.
- I wish I had the right words, just know that I care.
- I don’t know how you feel, but know I am here to help in any way I can.
- If you want to talk, I’d love to listen. I’m here if you would like to talk about it.
I bring up the often gloomy subject of death, dying and dealing with loss. It is one of those few subjects that is always present just below the service but we rarely want to discuss.
150,000 people die every day. 90% of them die naturally.
I want you to live. One of the purposes of this show is to make you stronger, happier and better. So, to do that I wanted to cover this topic if possible to inoculate you if I could. When the issue of death comes up in your family or you hear about it from a friend, you will have some points of view and things to remember..
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” ~Norman Cousins
What is it about death that scares us?
What is it about death that intrigues us?
Death is the great mystery. It may be a taboo subject, or it may be the most controversial topic I have been spoken publically about. We all must die.
There is no age requirement. It can happen at anytime.
“There are only three things for certain, trouble, death and taxes, this I know.” – Marvin Gaye
So we all must die, but how many of us truly live. What is life then? What is the meaning of life?
How do you know you are living a good life? Can you gauge it, measure it, and quantify it?
To die “naturally today in the U.S. usually means they died from heart disease, stroke, obesity, and aging. Infectious disease is in this equation somewhere and comes when we are weak.
In 2012, suicide took out more people than car crashes, followed by poisoning, and murder.
Death affects us differences. We grieve differently. It’s a loss. It’s guilt. It’s the realization. That we are mortal.
Grieving is a progress. How should we handle death? Should it be with remorse, or with a celebration?
I have learned that there are five stages of grief. They also happen at other times in our lives. They are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Denial is the first of the five stages of grief. It helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible.
Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. We can get out of hand with the anger. The anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love.
Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. “Please God, ” you bargain, “I will never be angry at my wife again if you’ll just let her live.” After a loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce. “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others. Then can I wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream?” We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements. We want life returned to what is was; we want our loved one restored. We want to go back in time: find the tumor sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the accident from happening…if only, if only, if only. Guilt is often bargaining’s companion. The “if only” cause us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently. We may even bargain with the pain. We will do anything not to feel the pain of this loss. We remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt.
After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss. We withdraw from life, left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering, perhaps, if there is any point in going on alone? Why go on at all? Depression after a loss is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of. To not experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual. When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realization that your loved one didn’t get better this time and is not coming back is understandably depressing. If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.
Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality. We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live. We must try to live now in a world where our loved one is missing. In resisting this new norm, at first many people want to maintain life as it was before a loved one died. In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, however, we see that we cannot maintain the past intact. It has been forever changed and we must readjust. We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time.
How do you handle death? Religions always have tried to explain it. I give you the views of several different ones on this episode.
I suggest that you handle death and those grieving with compassion and with your ears and your heart. Just listen. Don’t try to be or say anything. Just be a shoulder to cry on and a person. Don’t project your pain.
Death is a natural part of life. We collectively don’t handle it well. We tend to internalize it, allow it to eat at us and hurt us more. Understand that it is a process you learn to handle over time. Loss is a very big issue.
Loss is associated with irrational thoughts and behaviors. It comes from felling like we are out of control. The reality is that loss is inevitable.
How we choose to see things dictates how we’ll experience them. Would you rather see everything as precious or pointless?
I don’t know if I succeeded in helping you with this monologue on death, dying and loss. I would like to know what you think though.
It is not death that man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live. – Marcus Aurelius
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