By Ada Brownell
Author's Note: Several chapter didn't make it into my book, Swallowed by Life. Yet, I believe this information is helpful, so I'm sharing it here. You can purchase Swallowed by Life, an Amazon best seller, Here
When we walk through difficult times, we need physical, emotional and spiritual help. There is plenty out there if you know what to look for and where to go.
When Carolyn began to recover enough after chemotherapy, she urgently desired emotional help. I was a thousand or more miles away, and that’s one reason why I wrote this book. I told her about the Cancer Society’s support groups, called her every day, prayed, and flew to see her twice in two months.
Yet, a diagnosis of a terminal, debilitating or painful disease is a whopping load for the patient and his loved ones to carry emotionally, even when the Lord walks with you every moment of the day.
I have several recommendations picked up through wandering around in the medical community and picking experts’ brains.
1. GET A GRIEF-MATE
Find a spiritual partner to help you in your fear and grief. Arrange to contact your grief-mate when you feel overcome by fear, you are terribly sick, have a situation you don’t feel able to handle, or a decision with which you need help.
Your grief mate can be a pastor, a counselor, a Sunday school teacher, a friend or a relative who is spiritually strong.
I have a friend who has battled cancer for years and it recently returned and her husband, Gerald, just discovered he has prostate cancer. Yet, she leads a cancer support group at our church. While she spends much of her time encouraging others, she relies on the love, prayers and fellowship of people filled with compassion.
2. GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO GRIEVE
Allow yourself to talk about your loved one, or about your own illness and the doctor's prognosis.
Cry. Jesus wept when he heard his friend, Lazarus was dead. When I was grieving, I set aside a devotional time every day when I could get alone with God and talk to him about my grief. During the day and when you're in public, you sometimes have to shove it away. But I felt better knowing I'd have that time in my upstairs bedroom kneeling and crying before God, telling him about my broken heart.
Each day I stripped another layer off a part of me that felt as if I had died, too, and helped me keep a focus that I am still living and need to fulfill whatever purposes God has for my life here.
It helps to understand the stages of grief and that grieving is normal both for the dying and those left behind.
According to Drs. Frank Minirth and Paul Meier in their book, Happiness is a Choice, there are five stages of grief which occur to anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one or discovered he has an incurable illness. Even Christians will have these grief reactions.
1. The first stage of grief usually is denial. The person refuses to believe that what is happening is true. This stage normally doesn’t last long.
2. The second stage is anger turned outward. In this stage people sometimes feel angry at God, their doctors, or anyone they feel they can blame for their problem. Sometimes people even angry at someone who died. Other people get angry at those in good health or those who haven’t lost a loved one.
3. At stage three, we have anger turned inward. The grieving person begins to feel guilty, then begins to be angry with himself. He absurdly begins to blame himself for everything.
4. Stage four is when the person feels genuine grief. Tears and sorrow are normal and help the individual get grief out. Even though we know there is hope for those who “die in the Lord” there should be genuine grief.
5. The fifth stage is the resolution stage where the person comes to acceptance of the event. This stage is the result of a person working through the four other grief stages.