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.
I’m seven and a half years old and it’s Christmas time. My two older brothers and I live with our mom. I like living with Mom better than Dad. Mom can’t afford as much stuff, but she’s nicer and I don’t have to sleep with my little step-sister who still wets the bed. I’m a big girl now so I don’t wet the bed anymore. Well… not often anyway.
Mom has to work hard to pay for the things we need. Our clothes are old. Mostly we wear what other people give to us because their kids grew out of them. It’s not so bad because old clothes are softer than new ones. It’s a good thing we live in California and don’t need coats because we don’t have any. Sweaters keep us warm enough on our way to school once we’ve walked a while.
Our big brother. who’s eleven, cooks when Mom’s working. We eat lots of oatmeal with butter and sugar when we can’t buy milk or eggs. At least we don’t have to eat soggy milk toast anymore. Yuck! Sometimes we eat hotdogs and sometimes beans. Lately, we just have tortillas for lunch and dinner with butter and sugar. I don’t mind. I think anything made with butter and sugar is fine cooking.
Still, when Mom says we can’t afford presents for Christmas, I believe her. I guess kids don’t grow out of toys as fast as they do their clothes. I try not to be disappointed but I’m sad. I don’t want Mom to know how I feel because I don’t want her to feel bad, but there isn’t much I can do about tears falling on my pillow just before falling asleep at night.
We do have a nice Christmas tree, though. It’s kind of scrawny and it doesn’t have a lot of decorations—mostly paper ones we kids made. Of course, there are no presents under it. But it’s tall and smells good.
The night before Christmas finally comes and I remember something. Mom forgot about Santa! He always comes through with something! I have to go to bed right away so Santa can come.
In the middle of the night, I get up to go potty. The kitchen light is on and Mom’s sitting in a chair resting her head on her crossed arms on the table. Her eyes are closed and she’s making a kind of purring sound so I know she’s asleep.
I wonder if Santa came. I’ll just peek around the corner. The kitchen light is shining on the tree in the living room. Hey! What’s that thing in an open box under the tree? It’s—no, it can’t be—but it is! It’s a doll! A brand new baby doll! I tiptoe in for a closer look. I know I’m not supposed to touch presents before morning, but she’s so pretty! Her pink dress is as soft as flower petals like it was made that way instead of having been washed a bunch of times. She’s the same size as a real baby and her blue eyes open and close like one. Oooh! She even feels like a real live baby. I inhale the smell of her straight yellow hair. It smells new. I love that smell. I love this baby. I’m going to name her Sally.
Sally can’t sleep in a box on the floor; she’ll get cold. I softly sneak her to my bed and fall asleep with her cradled in my arms. I wake up again needing to go potty. Oh yeah! I forgot all about it the first time. I must not have slept very long because Mom is still sleeping in the kitchen with the light on. As quietly as I can, I gently place Sally in her box-bed under the tree. Goodnight sweet baby. I’ll see you in the morning. And Boy-oh-Boy! Will I ever be surprised!
That Christmas morning so many years ago, I had yet to be properly introduced to God. I knew Jesus was God’s son and Christmas was Jesus’ birthday. What I didn’t know was how to truly love and trust Him.
Years later I came to understand how much God loves us. "He gave His one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life." John 3:16 (TPT) That’s a Christmas present we can all celebrate.
As a child, I would never just leave a gift for me under the Christmas tree. Don’t leave God’s precious gift of salvation through Jesus unopened.
BIO: Vivien Chambers spent many of her early years in Tacoma, Washington. She moved with her husband to Texas in 1981 and now resides in the Fort Worth area. Vivien has served as a Stephen Minister and presently enjoys volunteering as an assistant in a Multiple Sclerosis swim class. Vivien is currently working on her first book. She has five grown children and six grandchildren.
Published on Saturday, November 30, 2019 @ 8:52 PM CDT
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