Is Your Grief and Loss Model Adequate?

Listen to the audio version here. 

[The following is the transcript of this week’s video. It’s not word for word but a close representation of what Cam said in his video. This transcript is provided for those of you who are unable to watch the video or would prefer to read the message instead of listen to it].

I have a question for you that I'd like you to think about for just for a few minutes.

Is your grief and loss model that you're working with adequate? There's been so many losses this last year. So many people that are dealing with transition, dealing with job loss, financial loss, loss of health. People have lost family members. There's been a great disturbance in the whole church community — going from the way things used to be to whatever the way things might look like in the future.

I want to suggest that your loss model and my loss model, if it looks like this (see image), might be inadequate. This model does have value and can help us think in terms of some of these defining words. There is often shock and denial. There’s this valley people go into when they have a loss or are dealing with grief. There's often anger, bargaining, and depression that is not an unusual feeling or mood people end up with. In good grief, the person thankfully does eventually end up in a place of acceptance.

Having gone through a lot of different types of losses myself this last year, including one that would be considered a capital “T” traumatic loss with my wife dying from cancer in May. I've been doing a lot of thinking and processing as it relates to my loss. What I'm learning is that regardless of the degree, size and shape of the loss, we need a model that will be adequate to help us deal with the complexity that grief often is.

I want to show you a model that I stumbled across in my reading that I've been working with. I'd like you to consider the value for you as you deal with the losses you are facing. I want to do this in two parts. Next week, I’ll be sending you a video that frame loss for a congregation dealing with loss. This video focuses on you as an individual — you as a leader, a parent, a father, a mother, a friend, or someone who has dealt with loss on some level. This is called the puzzle piece model of grief and dealing with loss. I found it in the book entitled, Resilient Grieving: Finding Strength and Embracing Life After a Loss That Changes Everything, by Lucy Hone.

This, as you see it here, is by no means complete. There are many puzzle pieces missing that can be added. These are just a few I have found helpful and named from my experience of dealing with loss. There are just a few I have found extremely helpful. Everybody’s experience of grief and of loss is so different. There are no two people that will experience the same journey after a loss, regardless, how of how large or small that loss is. Here are just a few of the puzzle pieces that I think are critical to add to your grief model and have room for.

We need empathetic listening. We need people in our lives who will listen to our story and won't give advice or tell us it's going to be okay. We need people to empathetically come over to where we are, feel what we feel, and identifying with our suffering and pain.

Another piece is exercise. Whether it's a good walk or some type of energetic exercise like cycling, running, going to the gym. This is a huge piece that I personally have found very important on my grief journey. I've called it grief cycling and found a lot of healing in my body, mind, and heart.

Normalizing suffering is another puzzle piece. Those who think everything should be all good won’t grieve well but get stuck.

Journaling is another puzzle piece I personally have found incredibly important because it allows you to process what you're experiencing — your feelings, thoughts and questions. Journaling gets out what’s inside so you can see it and reflect on it.

A growth mindset is another core element of good grief. It's the opposite of a fixed mindset that believes I have everything I need to get through what I'm going through. When you're going through grief, you need to learn. You need to experience new people and understand new ideas so that you can get through what you’re going through.

Another puzzle piece is a grief cleanse. It’s a puzzle piece that takes you more deeply into your loss so you can process what you’ve experienced. It's an experience I did just a week ago. It was a seven day process where I spent time each day going down deep into my grief, journaling and reflecting on what I was experiencing. I found it found it a very healing process.

And I want to invite you to put in the comments other puzzle pieces you would add to this model and recommend to people grieving their losses.

I also want you to reflect on the adequacy of your grief and loss model. Let me know your thoughts and what you’ve learned about loss and grief while on your journey. Let me know why you think this puzzle model might be helpful or valuable.

As you consider your losses, I encourage you to do the hard work of grief if you’ve had a loss this year, four months ago or 10 years ago that you haven’t fully processed. I encourage you to travel forward and down into your grief — into your losses so that you can become truly healthy, whole and healed — which is God's desire for all of us. Thanks for watching and please go down and leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.


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