On Grief and Afternoon TV

Dealing with grief on afternoon television is not something that you normally think of.  Or perhaps want to read about.  But, I have been touched by some recent story lines on the ABC soap, General Hospital, that have dealt with the deaths of a few beloved characters.

I am a long-time fan of this show that has had stories about cancer, AIDS, the Nurses Ball, the mob, and family dynamics.  They have also had some stories of freezing the Earth, crazy capers and adventures, and memory mapping.  It is entertaining and something I enjoy tuning into.

Several characters have died recently and the ramifications are being felt in a variety of ways by those left mourning their loss.  Oddly enough, a few of the shows have helped me and are nice to cry with.  Despite being make-believe, it has helped me tap into my own feelings.  That may be odd, but hey, you cope with grief and loss the best you can.  Right?

A teenager named Oscar died of a brain tumor, a nursing student named Kikki was murdered, and a baby named Jonah was stillborn (or so the family thinks).  These are recent deaths and there have been many others.  A bit crazy at times, but they have had ripple effects on the canvas of the characters.

One story line included the first day of school for Oscar’s girlfriend and friends.  It was the first day back since his death and has been hard on everyone, as you can imagine.  Joss was his girlfriend; they were each other’s first loves.  Joss is a 16 year old who plays sports and does well in school.  She went to school but then left and skipped for most of the day.  She went to Oscar’s Meadow, a park in his honor, and talked with her brother Michael, who was Jonah’s father.

While at school, Joss felt guilty for going to her locker a few times during the day without thinking of Oscar.  She felt bad for trying to move on and shared that it meant she no longer loved Oscar.  Michael told her it is okay to have good times and that Oscar would want her to.  Also, that she shouldn’t beat herself up about it.

Michael asked Joss if she wished there was a checklist of how to deal with grief to help get through it?  She said, yes.  Michael explained that grief takes a long time, often much longer than you’d expect.  And, he explained that memories can pop up at any time.

Regarding Jonah, Michael told Joss that he was overwhelmed thinking about something he’d never get to do with his son.  He was saddened that his son died prior to him sharing special times with him and day to day life.  It spoke volumes for all those who have lost children without ever knowing them.

Oscar’s mother Kim is having another problem.  She thinks moving to another city will help with her grief and painful loss of her son.  She seems hopeful that running away from where she lived with her son will help.  Clearly that grief is with you no matter where you are, but her character doesn’t seem to get that.

As hard as all of this is, feelings must be felt and learned from in order for there to be healing.  As much as we may want to, we cannot run away from them.  At least not for very long since they are often there.

And, Kikki’s mother Ava is trying to deal with it in another way.  She and her daughter were estranged before the death.  So, she has a lot of guilt and is trying some crazy ways to communicate with her daughter thinking it will help.  And, of course, it isn’t.  So she remains in pain and in guilt.

So what can one learn from all of this?  It is important to remember that grief can hit you in waves at any time and when you least expect.  Some days and weeks are easier than others.  And some are painful, or bring up memories, or a specific time on the calendar with that loved one.

Also important is what my friend Gordon used to say, don’t be a grave hugger.  In other words, don’t have regrets with your loved ones.  Remember the last thing you say to someone could in fact be the last thing ever said.  So, let’s be careful with our words and our feelings.

If you have guilt, ask for forgiveness, pray, and try to forgive yourself.   I am working on some of that right now and it is challenging but important for healing.  The doubts and questions come up frequently and can be frustrating.

Also, there is no checklist to complete to be finished with grief. There is no right way to heal from such a loss.  There are several stages but many of them happen together or can repeat themselves. There is no line from A to B that helps heal the pain and loss.  And, that can be hard to take.

Running away from the pain also can be a short-term fix but ultimately doesn’t help to process and deal with the loss.  In fact, many people will tell those grieving to not make big changes within the first year.  So selling everything and running off somewhere may sound tempting but cannot hold off that pain forever.

Each loss is different, each person dealing with the loss is different, and each healing journey is different.   May we give ourselves permission to feel what we need to, while striving to move forward.

May we remember it is okay to be happy despite our pain and loss.  I think our loved ones wouldn’t want us to stop living but instead live in their honor and memory.

May we be there for each other and let each other know that we care.  May we not judge someone dealing with a loss but instead offer our support and step up as we can.  And, may we always, always love.

(Note: all of the images in today’s blog are from Power Point Clip art).

On Prayers and Grief

On this first Wednesday of September, I have a lot on my mind. I have many prayer requests and there are many people in need of healing, comfort, and so much more.  I have seen on the news that lives have been forever changed by Hurricane Dorian.

I cannot even imagine how the residents of the Bahamas are feeling today.  I would imagine devastated, shocked, gutted, and perhaps angered. They have to rebuild everything and make sure their loved ones are still alive.  My heart goes out to them and breaks for them.

In times of tragedy like this, I turn to prayer. Also in times of loss, need, and praise, I turn to prayer. I talk to my Savior about things on my mind and ask for healing, comfort, answers and things to happen. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.  And other times, there is waiting that must be done.

Two nights ago, I was mulling over this blog on answers to our prayers and how to write on this subject. I realized that some people may not like or agree with what I write.  I also realized that there are several answers that the Lord gives to our prayers — yes, no, wait a while.  I don’t know about you but some of those answers are hard to deal with.

Prior to Malachi’s death in 2016, we were praying for his healing. We prayed for him to be fine and for him to grow to be a fine young man. I dreamed about Ian and Malachi going to college together.  Sadly, that was not to be.  Seems the Lord had other things in mind.

Then, when Kirk was whisked off to the hospital on his last day, I prayed and prayed for him to wake up and be okay. That too, for reasons I still don’t understand, was not to be. It was merciful he was taken so quickly and painlessly without suffering (at least that I could tell). On the other hand, we didn’t have time to say goodbye.  And, that hurts.

Now, they are both in Heaven and part of the saints who have gone before us.  There is comfort in that.  There is comfort also in knowing that I will see them both again.  Still, I wish I could see them again here and give them both a hug.

Scripture states that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord who are called according to His purpose.  But, regarding Kirk’s sudden death, I have to say that I am not there yet.  I still have too many questions, too many doubts, and a lot of pain.  I can’t yet see that things will be good without him, just very different.

Because of my faith, I know the Lord is always faithful and is with me no matter what.  But at times, I want to scream at Him that I don’t want to feel what I am feeling, I don’t want this pain, and I don’t want the suffering that goes along with a loss. 

I then ask “why me?” when I should be asking “Why not me?”  After all, death is a part of life and the circle of life.  Birth, living, and dying are what everyone will go through.  We will all have to deal with loss, grief, pain, and many changes.

I was told once that we shouldn’t question God.  I do not agree with that.  I think He can handle my questions.  And, I am sure that He expects doubts and people having trouble with terrible things in their life.

I know that some pastors preach that everything is good and you will have abundant blessings when you are in God’s will.  Perhaps, but not always, so I have to disagree.  Terrible things can and do happen to everyone.  Pain that seems unbearable at times is part of life. And grief and any kind of loss or scare can take its toll and lead to doubts.  Despite all of that, the Lord is there.

The promise I grew up learning is that no matter what we are dealing with, the Lord is  there with us.  And we are taught in church to pray without ceasing.  I have tried to do more than I used to and am seeing what that power of prayer can be.  Still, I don’t always understand the answer.

For the past year, I have been helping to lead a prayer group of parents from our church.  We meet monthly to discuss things, share prayer requests, and pray together.  My praying out loud has improved and was something that used to really scare me.

For me, more than anything, this is a support group and a group to learn from.  All of us are on a journey with our children, just in different phases of it.  We can help each other, we can support each other, and we can lift each other up. This group and their children mean a lot to me.  Their concerns and struggles also mean a lot.  What we share remains among us.

I may sound like I’m rambling or doubting my faith. I don’t mean to.  Instead, I have been trying to make sense of the most pain and loss I have ever dealt with.  I have many comforts, those who are supportive and helpful, and that is great.  And yet, I know this won’t be the last time I deal with a painful loss.

I hope that just as my friends, family, and prayer group are helping me, I hope I can help someone else.  It would be nice if we could talk more about our losses and our grief.  It is a hard thing to do, but is important.

I will continue to pray.  I will also continue to try to accept the answers, even when they are those that I don’t want to hear.  I will try to be there to listen to others and share what I need as well.  And I will always love.

I hope that if you are grieving, you have someone to share with, a faith to rely on, and prayers.