Layers

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There are some beautiful things made of layers. Rock formations in both the Rocky Mountains and the gorgeous Grand Canyon area display the various kinds of minerals and rock in their layers. These formations stacked one upon the other are truly a sight to behold. Certain clothing styles exhibit uniqueness using layers of flowing material to flatter the model. Foods intrigue the taste buds and please the appetite with layers of delicious flavors begging to be explored and devoured.

The grief journey is made up of layers as well. While beautiful may not be the adjective used to describe this part of life, the layers do have purpose as you learn to live without the presence of a loved one. The order of the layers in grief is not always neat or clearly defined. Yet along the way, there are certain layers each grieving person will most likely encounter at some point in their journey.

When first presented with your loss, it is natural to want to deny the event. Shock tends to bring a numbness that is actually helpful in making it through the very early days of grief. Soon, however the second layer appears.

The pain of loss can be severe. It is felt not only emotionally – but can manifest itself physically as well. The inability to rest and sleep well takes a toll on the body. Fatigue contributes to your hurt and exhaustion is a real danger. I personally experienced a sudden weight loss in the first week – 25 pounds, which I did eventually gain back. However, I have heard that others tend to see a rise in their weight as they deal with loss. Either way, the body fights to adjust to the loss and pain.

At times when you reflect upon grief, you might consider doing anything in order to see your loved one again. Talking and trying to bargain with God is not unusual. When the desired response is withheld, feeling anger can be the next step. You are angry with the situation; angry with the person you feel is responsible for your loss; angry with God; angry with yourself for not being able to change things; and perhaps even angry with your lost loved one for “abandoning” you. There is no shame in anger – it is holding onto that anger and acting upon it that can later cause you regret.

As you are forced to move forward in your journey, you have time to reflect and evaluate your situation. Perhaps you face loneliness that none of your friends can understand. Living without your loved one is hard and you are unsure of how to proceed. Depression closes in and the world looks dark. While this is also a common stage or layer of grief, the severity of the depression and sadness should be monitored. If you find it difficult to get out of bed for days at a time or you feel desperate enough to make unwise decisions, please tell someone. Go to a church, tell a friend, or pick up the phone and call someone who will listen and share your burden. There is hope even when you cannot feel it.

This leads to the final layer of acceptance and hope. You will come to a point in your grief journey when your outlook on life is better. Joy will be felt again, in spite of what you have gone through. You will experience more good days than bad days.

Do not be alarmed if you find yourself revisiting a layer that you thought you had left behind. As I stated earlier, the journey is messy and a bit circular. It is not uncommon to re-experience sadness at certain times, even when you feel you have made progress in dealing with your new life.

Keep living, place your focus forward, and realize that the varying emotions you experience are the layers of your journey. Those layers will shape you into a beautiful person with an incredible, unique purpose.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Until next time –

Karen

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Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

“Sorry, wrong door”

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I admit there have been a couple of times in the past few of years when I found myself at an incorrect address. Knocking, waiting, and then realizing my mistake, I would grimace as I muttered, “Sorry, wrong door” to myself and quickly moved on.

The first time was on Easter a couple of years ago. I ran home after church, grabbed my food and headed over to meet the others who had driven separately and had already arrived. Looking back, my mistake was not having the address with me. I tried to call my son to get it but he failed to answer his phone. I knew the general area, but ended up turning one street too soon.

I remembered that this family had recently painted their front door a beautiful, bright color. So when I drove down the street – the incorrect street mind you – and saw a beautiful blue door, I sighed with relief. I had found it!! I grabbed my food, went to the door, and knocked loudly. To my dismay, the person who answered the door was no one I knew. “Sorry, wrong door.” How embarrassing!

My latest fiasco locating a house occurred this weekend. Granted, I had been given the incorrect address but I did not learn this until after my humiliating experience. So there I stood, alternately ringing the doorbell and knocking loudly determined to get a response. How could they possibly be gone? They were expecting me. The mystery was finally solved when I made a few phone calls and came to the conclusion that my information was flawed. I quickly retreated from the strange porch groaning, “Sorry, wrong door.”

As you find yourself walking through grief, there will be times when denial rears its ugly head and you want your news of loss to be a mistake. You want to tell grief, “Sorry, wrong door!” and send it far, far away from you. The instructions we gather for life seldom prepare us for the devastation that can be felt when death makes its appearance.This process of denying is a normal stage of grief.

More than anything, you wish you could change the past, have just one more day, and enjoy more time with your loved one. Life demands so much at times that it is easy to take for granted those who are near and dear. How could you possibly be experiencing this loss so soon? Things were not supposed to turn out this way. Your heart breaks and your mind screams, “Sorry, wrong door!”

When events of life and death seem too harsh to be real, accepting them as truth can challenge your faith. Believing that you will learn to live without your loved one can seem overwhelming and impossible. Yet, that is what we are called to do. Instead of saying, “Sorry, wrong door,” try voicing the words of this hope-filled scripture to find healing as you travel through your grief.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”   Proverbs 3:5, 6 (NIV)

Until next time –

Karen

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.