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Finding our way through loss (2)

24 February 2023 ‘A time to be born, and a time to die.’ Ecclesiastes 3:2 KJV

Researchers at the Colorado Institute of Grief give us this helpful four-stage path to recovery after a painful loss. 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 ’anaesthesia’ that buffers the early blow and allows us time to gather our coping mechanisms. Stage two – Protest. We feel anger and resentment against God, but at the same time, we feel guilty for blaming Him. We might blame ourselves, the doctors, the patient, and question God’s love and faithfulness. We might even start bargaining with Him: ‘If You’ll just do a miracle and bring them back, I will do this…’ Stage three – Disorganisation. Everything comes apart at the seams. The lifestyle we knew and loved unravels. The dreams we treasured suddenly evaporate. We feel hopeless, powerless, lost in a strange, empty universe. Secondary losses might start to hit us: financial insecurity, social upheaval, depression, loss of concentration, and so on. We become convinced that life will never be normal again. We survive moment to moment, afraid to look at what’s ahead. Stage four – Reorganisation. Unrelenting grief gives way to waves of sadness that vary in frequency and intensity. We begin to accept and accommodate our loss. The energy we spent on grief slowly becomes available again, enabling us to adjust to the demands and opportunities of our new lifestyle. Slowly we re-emerge and take hold of the reins again. The process can take many months, and full recovery can even take years. But God promises it will come! There will be ‘a time to heal…to build up…to laugh…to dance’ and ‘to gain!’ (Ecclesiastes 3:3-4, 6 NKJV).

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