Navigating life’s losses (2)
“A time to be born, and a time to die.” Ecc 3:2
Researchers at the Colorado Institute of Grief offer us this helpful four-stage path to recovery. Stage one – Shock. Our initial response is one of denial and disbelief. “I can’t believe this is happening…it’s not real!” There is a numbing of our senses, a God-designed natural “anesthesia” that buffers the early blow and allows us time to gather our coping mechanisms. Stage two – Protest. We feel anger and resentment against God, yet we feel guilty for blaming Him. We may blame ourselves, the doctors, the patient, and question God’s love and faithfulness—even bargaining with Him. “If You will just do a miracle and bring them back, I will…” Stage three – Disorganization. Everything comes apart at the seams. The lifestyle we knew and loved unravels. The dreams we cherished evaporate. We feel hopeless, powerless, lost in a strange, empty universe. Secondary losses may loom: financial insecurity, social dislocation, depression, loss of concentration, etc. We’re convinced that life will never be normal again. We survive moment to moment, afraid to anticipate the road ahead. Stage four – Reorganization. Unrelenting grief gives way to waves of sadness varying in frequency and intensity. We begin to accept and accommodate our loss. The energy we expended on grief work becomes available again, enabling us to adjust to the demands and opportunities of our new lifestyle. Slowly we reemerge and take hold of the reins again. The process will take many months, and full recovery even years. But God promises it will come! There will be “a time to heal…build up…laugh…dance…gain!” (Ecc 3:3-4, 6 NKJV).