Wash Day Grief
Have you ever noticed the settings on your washing machine as they relate to grief? Consider these common washing machine settings:
NORMAL: Normal responses following a loss may include mood changes, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, feelings of anger, abandonment, despair, loss of concentration, loss of energy, and the loss of motivation. These responses can vary based upon previous loss experiences, our relationships, and even our personality.
SMALL LOAD: Each person’s grief is a major life event. However, there may be some days the grief pain is not as intense. These days offer the time to catch your breath. Regardless of the relationship…regardless of the circumstances surrounding the loss…it is a major loss.
LARGE LOAD: Grief can bring on very intense feelings. These feelings can be overwhelming, even to someone with a history of always being under control. We can be paralyzed emotionally because of the shock a loss brings.
SPIN CYCLE: Several events can throw a griever into a “spin cycle”. Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, photos, music, food, and even fragrances can begin the “spin cycle” of emotions. These are normal twists and turns along the journey of grief.
RINSE CYCLE: The rinse cycle is a time of refreshing. Tears provide a natural rinsing, a cleansing of the soul. Grief encompasses all of the confusing and painful emotions felt after a loss. Mourning is the outward expression of these feelings...whether through tears, words, or actions.
COOL DOWN: No one can take grief away. Expressing grief to a safe person, or becoming part of a grief support group, can provide a “cool down” time. These steps can help soften the pain of grief, but the awareness of the loss will remain.
Give yourself permission to be a “NORMAL” griever. Some days will bring a “SMALL LOAD” of grief…other days will consist of a “LARGE LOAD”. The “SPIN CYCLE” may be intense at times…while the “RINSE CYCLE” of tears can cleanse the soul as we mourn the loss. Peace and acceptance can offer a “COOL DOWN” phase…a time of rest.
Jesus did NOT say “Blessed are those who GRIEVE”! But, He DID say “Blessed are those who MOURN, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4. Grief is the confusing tangle of emotions and feelings that are within following a loss. These may feel like loneliness, sadness, emptiness, anger, guilt and regrets. No one can see our grief, it is personal and private.
But, when we talk about these feelings the grief becomes mourning. A good definition of mourning is “grief gone public”. Mourning may be talking about the feelings, or even actions to honor the life of a loved one who died. Every one grieves, but not everyone mourns in a healthy manner.
Find a safe person who will let you talk about your feelings. As you talk about your grief you are mourning the loss…according to Jesus, that is when you find comfort.
Psalms 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted, He binds up their heart”.
Bob Willis has served as a Southern Baptist minister and hospice Bereavement Coordinator. He is a frequent speaker on grief, loss, and caregiver issues. His book “A Guide For Grievers” was released in June 2017, providing information on grief and supporting those who have experienced a loss. Bob has been a sculptor for over 25 years. In May of 2018, he became the Sculptor at The Great Passion Play, Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Set your house in order because Christ could come today . . .
And some tasks may be unfinished if you are called away.
An angel may have told you at the early morning light . . .
“Your Lord will come this evening and you’ll be home with Him tonight.”
Our hearts may become clouded as we think of work undone . . .
Those seeds that weren’t scattered and the crowns that we might have won.
There were souls we meant to speak to and Bible verses we meant to share . . .
And there were a lot of wasted moments we could have spent in prayer.
Now there are a few short moments to set undone things right . . .
And feverishly we’d labor until we see the warning light.
We all have a slothful soul and a careless heart and some spiritual eyes that seem to have no sight . . .
We need to work, and not reap in vain regrets, because my Lord Jesus may come tonight.
“Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44)
Tom Kesting was born and raised in Bluefield, West Virginia, and attended West Virginia University on a football scholarship. He worked in the marketplace doing sales and marketing for 30 years and worked at In Touch Ministries for 26 years. Tom became a Christian when he was 41 years old. Three days a week he broadcasts a 15-minute inspiration program on Facebook and sends out daily encouraging emails to friends and to those interested in positive encouragement and inspiration. Tom lives in Lilburn, Georgia, and has been married for 20 years.
Tears clouded my view as I attempted to navigate the storm that encircled my heart. I wanted God to take the helm, to part the waters for me to walk through. Yet I faced swells that threatened to capsize my life.
I had no eloquent words to pray. In tears I faintly whispered, “Help…” Every time I tried to catch my breath, I was pulled under again, choking on another wave.
The enemy had been trying to defeat me with repeated storms for years. This storm was wearing me out but I wasn’t going to give up now.
Jesus warned us we would face trials, but He also gave us hope. I clung to that. He came to be my peace in the midst of the storm.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. - John 16:33
Once when Jesus and the disciples went out on the lake after a busy day of ministry, a storm suddenly blew in and the disciples became distraught while Jesus slept. Jesus peacefully snoozed while the gusty winds and choppy waves broke over the boat because He knew who His father was and that He could be trusted to care of His children.
Storms shape us in different ways depending on how we react to them:
- Sometimes storms destroy us: when we forget who calms the storm and we give up.
- Sometimes storms define us: when we forget God works all things together for our good; instead adopting a victim mentality, wallowing in self-pity, rather than looking at our storm as an opportunity for God to show His faithfulness.
- Sometimes storms strengthen us: when we hold onto God as our anchor in a storm, believing that trials produce a testing of our faith which produces perseverance, we allow the storms to strengthen us.
If our eyes are on the storm we will wonder if He still loves us, but if our eyes are on Him as our anchor, we will know He always has and always will. He promised His peace—the very peace that allowed Him to sleep through the storm because He knew who He was and whose He was.
Our attitude during the storm directly impacts the outcome, even if it’s only the impact on our heart.
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7.
When we make the choice to not worry, but instead, pray about our needs and be thankful for all God has done, we will then experience His peace even in the midst of the storm.
Are you going through a storm? Will you trust Him, and thank Him for all He has done while you wait for the storm to end?
Dr. Michelle Bengtson is the author of “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression” and the “Hope Prevails Bible Study.” A board certified clinical neuropsychologist with over 20 years experience in the diagnosis and treatment of medical and mental disorders, she also knows the pain of losing loved ones and the despair that can follow trauma or illness. After her strong faith in God carried her through her tough times, she began a mission to instill hope in the hearts of others—even in the midst of their storms.
She is a popular speaker to multiple audiences and known by TV and radio audiences as a guest on a variety of Christian programs. She is also a wife, mother and friend. She lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with her husband, their two sons, and two dogs.
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Published on Friday, June 1, 2018 @ 2:23 PM CDT
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