Written by Chaplain Liz Danielsen
It had been several months since the unthinkable happened to our family. She was gone. My beautiful wife and the mother of our 3 children.
I wondered how we would move forward again as a family. Her death had caused incredible pain in all of our hearts. I could tell it was taking a toll on my family. The amount of responsibility I now had was overwhelming: cooking, laundry, cleaning, and work, just to name a few.
My kids were struggling with their grades in school. They fought with each other more than they ever had. Something had to change! We needed professional help.
That is when I met Liz Danielsen at Spiritual Care Support Ministries (SCSM). My kids and I spent time getting wise counsel from her. I remember her telling us that everyone grieves differently. She encouraged us to talk to each other about our loss so that we would better understand each family member’s unique experience.
She also provided us with resources to help us better understand grief and find hope in the midst of it. With God’s help, our family began to strengthen again. Chaplain Liz was truly a God-send.
The Uniqueness of Grief
Have you ever lost someone you love? Perhaps you wondered why it seemed to affect you differently than others you’ve known who have dealt with grief.
As a healthcare chaplain working in hospitals and hospices for several decades, I have spent many hours with families as they have grieved for their loved ones. While these families shared losing a loved one in common, like the family who lost their wife and mom, their experience with grief was unique due to the special relationship they had with her.
Contrary to what many people think, grief is a process that has a different timetable for each person. It brings with it a sea of emotions that often take time to work through. Grief brings out the best and the worst in people. Much of this has to do with their loss of control, structure, and balance.
A Time to Mourn
If families are going to grieve in a healthy way, they must be given time to mourn. Mourning is simply how a person walks out their grief journey. In order to find healing, families must work together and find a place to connect and communicate with each other.
While everyone’s experience with grief is different, there are general guidelines that can help anyone regardless of their unique situation. As you walk through grief, the following 13 steps (not in order of importance) will move you closer to finding the healing you need.
13 Steps for Grieving Families
1. Create a space to process what has happened, but recognize that some of the family members will need more space than others.
2. Find ways to celebrate and remember your loved one together.
3. Together as a family, identify the changes that have occurred because of your loss. Discuss how you can work with each other to accommodate these changes into your life in a positive way.
5. Respect, love, and pray for each other as you are processing the emotional, physical and spiritual pain that you are all experiencing.
6. Remember that crying is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign that you loved that person.
7. Recognize that for a while you may feel like you are on a roller coaster of emotions. Be patient with each other.
8. Be mindful that no one knows what the other one is feeling about the loss. It is important to ask questions that will promote understanding.
9. Although it will not be easy to do in the early months after a loss, try to laugh and play together. While it may be difficult at first, it will get a little easier each time you do it.
10. Each family member will have memories that they alone hold dear. Never stop celebrating those memories. When you are ready, share them with others.
11. Ask for help and support as often as you need it. There are times when we just can’t do it alone. We need others! If you feel that there are some things you just can’t share with your family, speak to your pastor, a chaplain, a counselor, or a trusted friend. Attend a support group.
12. Make a choice to work toward getting better rather than risk the chance that you may become bitter.
13. Turn to God’s word for comfort and strength. Two great verses to meditate on are Matthew 10:27 “With God, all things are possible.” Matthew 5:4 says “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Are you grieving the loss of a loved one or know someone who is? Find more information and support by visiting SCSM at www.scsm.tv or contact Chaplain Liz at ChaplainLiz@scsm.tv. You can also subscribe to her blog by clicking here.
About Chaplain Liz
Reverend Liz Danielsen is the President and CEO of Spiritual Care Support Ministries (SCSM). An ordained minister, Chaplain Liz has spent several decades working as a hospital and hospice chaplain before opening her own ministry in Warrenton, VA.
SCSM exists to provide faith-based compassionate care and emotional healing for individuals and families struggling with loss and pain, whether from illness or the death of a loved one, a chronic condition, divorce, or other personal losses.