I am inspired to write this blog to help someone to cope with the difficulties of dealing with the death of a newly found friend. I hope that anyone who is experiencing grief or loss will find some solace in this piece.
“I am not in a good place right now. Will you call me please?” This message was “What-apped” to his mother,on Tuesday evening. His profile picture was very telling,it presented with his hand covering his eyes and quite uncharacteristically,he was wearing black . She dropped what she was doing and called him right away. “Mommy ,” he said,”my friend has passed,he just died in his sleep. Mommy, I was with him on Friday and we were goofing around and running jokes. But he did say he was tired, because it was so hard walking to and from work in the snow.” Both of these guys are from tropical countries and they do not ever get snow. Did he die from exhaustion or was it a heart attack? That was not determined.
New friend’s funeral
The country, where they are currently living and working do not ship dead bodies.Hence the deceased young man had to be churched and cremated there. It was not anything he had ever seen before. This is how it went:the undertakers brought the body to the temple in a box (just a wooden box) without any handles for the pall-bearers to hold;there were no assistants with the undertaker, he drove the hearse and delivered the box to the temple.So the friends, who attended the ceremony had to lift up this one hundred and eighty pound body,somehow, and lay it in state. After placing the box in the temple,they then had to remove the body from the box, wrap it in white sheets and then cover it with flowers. “It broke my heart to have to cover his face,” he later shared. Poor boy! Do understand, that there were three of them as friends of the deceased in attendance,and they had to do all of these things, themselves? But that was not all.
When the rituals were completed, the friends had to go to the crematory and watch the process of cremation from start to finish. But that is not even the whole story, the worst part was that the long bones and the hipbones were not completely burnt,,so they had to pick them up and package them along with the ashes.This was an indignity to all concerned. The pain of the loss and the undignified way in which the processing of the remains of his friend only redoubled their grief. His parents had to endure the entire charade by Skype.
Loss to suicide
If you knew this youngster you would know that funerals are not ,and I mean not his favourite place to be at any point in time. He shows up only if it is a close family member or really close friend. May I just tell you that he lost a few friends in their teens? If I remember rightly, they were in first year at college and one boy hung himself. The funeral for this kid was so unbearably sad. I remember when everything ended at the burial site a bunch of them just stood by the grave and they wept. Some of us as parents stood by and we all just hugged those boys and wept with them. Even writing about it now brings tears to my eyes.This kid was his mothers only child!
Loss to car accident
There was another untimely death that really hurt him . This time, this young man’car crashed into a wall and somehow his brain dislocated. He was in a coma for a couple weeks, well, he never recovered. This boy died and left a little sister and wow , his mother and his friends were devastated.
Victims of Crime or Terrorism
This young man has experienced the death of yet another close friend to murder. This time there were two of them a boy and a girl,killed. These guys were his school-mates. They were involved in an accident and in their attempts to do right by the victim,who was injured met their untimely death.
A parent should never bury his/her child
Often in cases of untimely death of children I have heard the grieving parent lament with great agony, that a parent should never have to bury their child. I concur. Today I listened to a sermon given by my friend who lost her oldest child, by natural causes. It hurts the most probably because of the choices he made. You see he was asthmatic, but he was also a smoker. Her grief is still very very raw and she gave this sermon on the anniversary of his passing. She spoke about how she has been able to cope with the loving support of her closest friends and counsellors. But she also mentioned how other people made it harder for her because they would make ugly remarks and somehow appear to blame her for not doing enough to help him. I have cried with her so many times. I just lose my ability to find words to say, nothing from my lips to her ears to help her to cope with her loss.
Grieving is a process
I have lost many of my dear friends and relatives too. Some have been ill and died at a young age. Others have had surgery and never woke up. Those I have been able to get over quickly enough. I have learned to cherish their memories and the loss ,by accepting that death is a part of life’s complex process.The Bible tells us that death is an inevitable appointment for man.
But the one that I have not been able to let go, not ever ever stopped grieving was a brutal rape and murder of my “bestie”. She was my friend and confidant. I remember vividly the last time I saw her,so many years ago now, I was going out on a date and I changed clothes at her home that evening. When I was about to leave, she kissed my forehead and that’s something she had never done before. . Days later, I heard she went missing and that was it. I am crying now even as I write this.
I did a bit of research and am drawing some inferences from grief counselling I have received during my life’s journey in giving grieving individuals some tips on managing your grief. The psychologists believe ,that if you understand what you are feeling or experiencing, that is the first step towards coping with your grief. There are different stages that one goes through during the grieving process.
Here are a few tips to help you understand the grieving process.”Understand the Process of Grieving, that I found on the medical website webmd.com
“Doctors have identified five common stages of grief:
- Denial: When you first learn of a loss, it’s normal to think, “This isn’t happening.” You may feel shocked or numb. This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of overwhelming emotion. It’s a defense mechanism.
- Anger: As reality sets in, you’re faced with the pain of your loss. You may feel frustrated and helpless. These feelings later turn into anger. You might direct it toward other people, a higher power, or life in general. To be angry with a loved one who died and left you alone is natural, too.
- Bargaining: During this stage, you dwell on what you could’ve done to prevent the loss. Common thoughts are “If only…” and “What if…” You may also try to strike a deal with a higher power.
- Depression: Sadness sets in as you begin to understand the loss and its effect on your life. Signs of depression include crying, sleep issues, and a decreased appetite. You may feel overwhelmed, regretful, and lonely.
- Acceptance: In this final stage of grief, you accept the reality of your loss. It can’t be changed. Although you still feel sad, you’re able to start moving forward with your life. ” (reference: http://www.webmd.com)
Prayer and meditation
I am a Christian and I believe that prayer ing does help in coping with loss. The Bible tells us we do not have such a High Priest that is not touched by our sorrow. For he has been through all of it, just like we do. He knows how we feel and he sympathises with us. Therefore, we have that friend in Jesus who will bear our sorrows and or grief.So when you are down and feel lonely or discouraged or when our hearts feel like we just cannot take anymore, then ask him to help us cope. He hears and he answers our prayers.
Death is inevitable and we cannot choose (except in the case of suicide) how we die. Those who are left behind have to find ways to cope with the pain and loss. We will experience immense grief after death especially when the life lost is that of youthful persons and ones near and dear to us. Grieve if you must but never lose faith.