There are so many ways that a person can experience loss. Loss of job or income, loss of dreams, loss of health, loss of property, loss of life, just to name a few that our family has personally gone through. I’d like to discuss how we handled these losses as a family and how our church body helped us to carry the burden of our losses. I would hope that writing this would help add to the dialogue (that I believe SHOULD happen) about helping those around us to survive their losses and begin to thrive once again.
Different types of losses effect each one of us differently. The loss of a pregnancy/child will have similar, yet different effects on the mother, father, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, etc. The same goes for other losses. I can only speak to how specific losses have effected me. I’m sure the same goes for any losses that readers of this post may have gone through themselves. We each have a multitude of life experiences that effect how we experience loss, but there are some common threads that run through how we are able to recover from loss and how we can help others to survive losses as well.
1. Sharing Our Experiences with Each Other
I can’t tell you how many times I have felt comforted, just by knowing that others had walked this road before me and survived. By this, I don’t mean that people said, “I know exactly how you feel,” or anything along those lines. I would never dare say that to anyone. What I am talking about is brothers and sisters in Christ who came along side me and said, “I have experienced something like this and I am here to listen to your experiences, to share your burden, and to talk if you need to talk.” Sometimes it is a comfort to simply know that you are not alone.
2. Others Offering to Help Carry Your Burden for Awhile
So many times, we have had fellow believers walk with us through our losses. Sometimes it is to offer monetary help. Sometimes it is to offer practical household help. Sometimes it is to buy us groceries or bring us a meal or run errands for us. Sometimes it is simply to sit with us as we prepare for the worst and to pray as hard as they can, with and for us. The recent illness I have been going through is a great example of how we can carry others through loss. In this instance we experienced a loss of health, a loss of income, and a loss of a dream/ideal (wanting to pursue natural medicine, but being forced into going through surgery because of the life threatening nature of the illness). We have had folks clean our house, bring us meals, pick up and dump our trash, pay our bills, run our errands, stock up our cupboards, pray with us, remind us to rest, and lend their ears and shoulders for us to share our burdens with them.
3. Being Silent and Knowing When to Speak
I believe this is truly a gift that God gives to those who have suffered losses. I also believe that this is accomplished by being sensitive to the nudging of the Holy Spirit. I also believe it is better to err on the side of being silent, but present than to speak words that can injure. I think this is a great subject for introspection and I am still working on this one myself.
4. Offering Support Beyond Ourselves
This could be in the form of books, blog posts we have read, support groups we have heard of, or connecting folks with friends who have gone through similar struggles. When using this tool, I try to remember how overwhelming it is to be experiencing loss. Most of the time there is not a lot a person can process because of their loss. It is all we can do to draw the next breath. I think it is a very hard place to be when you have a loved one that is experiencing a loss that you yourself have not experienced. The feeling of helplessness is overwhelming. I try to always remember in these instances, “first do no harm.”
I obviously don’t have all the answers, but I do know that these things have helped our family through miscarriage, health issues, deaths of family members, loss of income, and loss of property. We have been loved on by so many different folks, some from our church, some from our daily lives, and even some strangers. Experiencing loss myself has made me desire to be more intuitive towards noticing others who are experiencing loss and to be able to help them to survive their loss and thrive afterwards, as many people have helped us to do.
Be Peace, Kimbrah
This post is part of a MennoNerds Synchro-Blog on the topic of Death, Loss, Pain and Grief, July 14-30, 2013. Check out our page on MennoNerds.com to see all the other posts in this series.