Grief and Loss: Transitions, Death, Passing and Passed Away

Hello Family and Friends,

I am so excited to have been asked to write blogs for Gospel against Aids (GAA)  I would like to give honor and thanks to God, GAA, my friends, and family for allowing me this opportunity of sharing information and inspiration. Please enjoy this blog regarding transitions.

When going through this great maze we call life, we are always faced with the harsh realities of death. Some people have a hard time discussing this natural occurrence because it makes us think of our own mortality. I never will forget when my father and mother called me over to their home and stated we must talk to you about their wishes. Like most adult children, I was shocked and thought, “wishes about what?” Then my father just stated “our death”. Shocked and frighten my immediate response was, “Do you know something I don’t or are you going somewhere soon?”  You know how we do trying to pretend that we hadn’t heard anything really and hope to God, that your parent maybe experiencing a senior moment and will forget the subject at hand and will move onto something else.

My father was a visionary. He believed in preparation; he wanted to make sure that his family were taken care of and that his final wishes were being respected and accepted. I know you must be wondering after I used the comment “was a visionary” did I mean to say that my father had passed away? Yes, that is what I mean. My father died on October 31, 2014, yes family, on Halloween. I really didn’t care for this made up holiday anyway, but my father was my anchor through all my storms, my hero, my knight in shining armor, and my secret admirer transitioned home to be with the Lord. Would you like to know what the conversation was regarding my fathers and mothers final request thoughts one year before my father’s death?

As I said previously, they called me over to discuss their final wishes. I knew that they didn’t want to be place in a casket. They didn’t want anyone looking down on them and making comments such as: “He looks so peaceful, “looks like he’s just sleeping”,” oh he sure looks good”, “ they put him away nice.” So my father said, “we have made arrangements when the time comes we are to be cremated and our ashes will be place into an urn and put into a mausoleum.”  I asked “would you like a memorial service to be held in your honor?” My dad said, “That would be fine I want photos of me and friends a family gathered sharing stories of my life and adventures in golf”. My dad continued by saying I know this will be a lot to ask of you, but if I go before your mother, I will need you to be strong and help her to handle my state of affairs, can you do this?”

I was so numb to the idea that they wanted to be cremated. My beloved parents reduced to ashes.  I had such a hard time of accepting this decision until I realized that at all funerals the Pastor always says “ashes to ashes dust to dust”; it was in that moment that I realize that we are all but dust when we are born into this world. During that moment I realized and was proud of the fact that my father was such a visionary and wanted to ensure that his family was protected even in his death. So when I got that dreaded call from my mother while I was at work, I won’t lie to you. I went through the Dr. Krubler Ross stages of death: Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

 Anger: I was angry with my dad for leaving us and cursed his name as I threw everything on my desk to the floor. I cried uncontrollably as to the who, the what, the when, the where, and the how to comfort my mother during this time and begin making the calls to my family and friends regarding his passing.

Denial: I know I must be tripping that this was a bad dream that I keep reliving. My dad is not dead. I got that message wrong. As my hands shook I called my mother back, only to hear her crying in my ear as to when I would arrive at their home? I stated in most calming voice is there anything I can get for you as I head on over to your house? My mother, stated no sweetie, these nice police officers said that they would stay with me until your arrival.

Bargaining as I drove to my parent’s home from work which was an hour away from my job, I asked God please to give my dad another chance to get it right. He can be stubborn, mean, and prideful, but my Father in heaven, he doesn’t know any better. But one thing I know for sure is that he loves his family so much. I promise I will watch him harder when his memory fails, I promise I will take the keys away from him so cannot drive and be a possible cause of harm to himself or others. I promise to be a better daughter to my folks.  Oh please Father in heaven, don’t let this be true!

Depression:  My father is dead, my father died today, I am fatherless, I will not be able to hear his voice when he says “hello, daughter of mine”.  These are the various thoughts that ran through my mind as I drove to my parent’s home to be with my mother. How can I help my mother through this loss? They have been married for almost 60 years, she must feel that she has lost the love of her life, how do I begin to help her through this and also help rebuild my life as well? Oh God, what do we do now?

Acceptance as I pulled into my parent’s driveway, I remembered all the lessons my father tried to teach me and the joy in his voice and smile on his face when he saw me walk across the stage to graduate from graduate school with honors. As I rang the bell to go into the house, my mother and daughter met me at the door. It was in that moment when I saw her face and we all embraced, I knew we would get through this because that is what my father would have wanted to see that his family would continue to go on.

If you are experiencing any of these emotions following a loss, it may help to know that your reaction is natural and that you’ll heal in time. However, not everyone who grieves goes through all of these stages—and that’s okay. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to go through each stage in order to heal there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.” stages—and that’s okay. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to go through each stage in order to heal there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.”

Losing someone or something you love or care deeply about is very painful. You may experience all kinds of difficult emotions and it may feel like the pain and sadness you're experiencing will never let up. These are normal reactions to a significant loss. But while there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can renew you and permit you to move on.

  • Face your feelings. You can try to suppress your grief, but you can’t avoid it forever. In order to heal, you have to acknowledge the pain. Trying to avoid feelings of sadness and loss only prolongs the grieving process. Unresolved grief can also lead to complications such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems.
  • Express your feelings in a tangible or creative way. Write about your loss in a journal. If you’ve lost a loved one, write a letter saying the things you never got to say; make a scrapbook or photo album celebrating the person’s life; or get involved in a cause or organization that was important to him or her.
  • Look after your physical health. The mind and body are connected. When you feel good physically, you’ll also feel better emotionally. Combat stress and fatigue by getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising. Don’t use alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of grief or lift your mood artificially.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry, to yell at the heavens, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh, to find moments of joy, and to let go when you’re ready.
  • Plan ahead for grief “triggers.” Anniversaries, holidays, and milestones can reawaken memories and feelings. Be prepared for an emotional wallop, and know that it’s completely normal. If you’re sharing a holiday or lifecycle event with other relatives, talk to them ahead of time about their expectations and agree on strategies to honor the person you loved.

The first order of business is to take a few minutes to absorb what has just transpired. You’ve just been informed that a loved one has died unexpectedly: You may be numb, overcome with grief, in a state of panic or going through any number of reactions. These feelings are normal. However, you have work ahead of you hard work. If you’re the deceased’s next of kin, you have a responsibility to notify others. However, this doesn’t mean you must do it on your own. Enlist the help of a good friend to do this task for you. While some calls might be best coming from you, most people will understand if you have a good friend, spouse or sibling call on your behalf.

The phone calls can be brief. It may help to have a list of what information should be relayed, such as the nature of the death (if you wish to reveal it), anticipated funeral date and funeral-home arrangements. If you don’t want to go into detail about the nature of the death, you are not obligated. However, people are curious and will ask, “How did he die?” or “What happened?” Be prepared by coming up with an answer you feel comfortable with. For example, maybe he died unexpectedly in a car accident.

What helped our family as I stated before, that my father had made arrangements, if he were to have transition here in the state of Arizona, the crematory would have come to pick up his body but because my father was killed in another state we had to pay extra to have his autopsy, death certificates, and have his remains shipped. Our biggest fear was that his remains would not be there in time for the date that we had set for his home going celebration. I think the most challenging part for me was summarizing my father’s life and ambitions into one page and selecting photos for the home going program and those that we wanted to have framed and make copies for family members and friends to have memories. I hope what I have shared with you this month family while very emotional for me, will be some assistance and inspirational to you. Death is not an end but a slumber until our fathers in Heavens return. So, when you are faced with a loss of a loved one remember the 27th Psalm “though I walk through the valley shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thy staff and thy rod they comfort me” let my words be a comfort to you.

 

Hugs to all,

 

Ms. E