Sunday, January 27, 2013

To all those who grieve the New Town dead


After my wife died, ten years ago, I started attending a church with a large membership.

After I started going to their worship services, I asked some of the members what they could offer to a grieving widower.  They told me that the church had a bereavement group that met one night every week.

I started going to it.  It was led by two women, both of whom were members of the church, and they had both lost a husband.  Every week, the attendees had a chance to talk a bit about their loss and how they were coping with it.  The two discussion leaders offered to everyone who came, regulars and first-timers, the same message: Christ will heal all your wounds.

Whether you are a Christian or not, though, there were two other things that I learned from the group, and these other two messages can help anyone who grieves for someone who has recently died.
  • You are not alone.  This was reinforced every week by the simple practice of discussing losses with other people who were also experiencing a loss.  Some of these losses were spouses, some were grandparents who the attendees felt close to, and a few members had experienced the loss of a child.  The grieving process is very similar for all losses.  Someone we knew is not here any more, but we will see them again some day, if we follow God's rules.

  • This other message must be considered a warning.  I say it so that you can prepare yourself for a possible disaster, even greater than the loss of your child or the adults who died that day.  If you experience a second loss within a short time after suffering one loss, it will take much longer for you to recover from the first loss.  This advice was given to me by the two women who led the church-sponsored bereavement group.

    Even if the second death is a distant relative or the loss of a pet, any second loss that happens soon after you experience one loss will weigh much more heavily on your emotions than the original loss, so expect that you will need much more time to finish the grieving process, and ask for even more help from family, friends, and professionals if you have a second loss soon after the first one occurs.

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Please know that a lot of people are praying for your emotional health and for the emotional health of your families.

Please know something else, as well. I say these words to you in the spirit of the Golden Rule, which says to treat others the way that you want to be treated.  The following words are words that I don't hear myself too often, but as a widower, I treasure them whenever someone says them to me, so I know how much they will mean to you.

You will see your loved ones again.  God loves you, and I do, too.

David