A Stop On Grief's Journey
By Lynn Batcher, Chaplain & Grief Support Volunteer
Perhaps Surprising to Most People
“…Can it be that in a world so full and busy, the loss of one
weak creature makes a void in any heart, so wide and deep
that nothing but the width and the depth of vast eternity
can fill it up?” - Charles Dickens.
We human beings are created out of love, for love. We flourish when we form deep connections with our world and especially with other people. These relationships enrich our lives and help us endure life’s inevitable struggles. The downside of that reality is that with the loss of a deep connection comes great distress. When we lose someone or something important to us, we are sorrowful; we can’t think straight; we question the meaning of our lives; and, we sometimes become ill.
According to a growing body of evidence and the experiences of so many, we recognize that we have also been given a way to not only survive the loss of a love, but to grow through it. In the words of psychologist George Bonanno, human beings seem to be “wired” to recover from the many effects of great loss, yet not alone. The vast majority of us do recover and many of us grow in our capacity for compassion and mature relationships.
Perhaps surprising to most people is that the process of grief itself is the principal way that we do this. Grief is the road we travel from the chaos of early loss to the peace of a new normal. It is a journey that can transform us.
We Want No One to Have to Go It Alone
"…Grief feels like suspense. Or like waiting; just hanging
about waiting for something to happen…it doesn’t seem
worth starting anything. I can’t settle down. I yawn,
I fidget, I smoke too much. Up till this time I always had
too little time. Now there is nothing but time.
Almost pure time, empty successiveness" - C.S. Lewis.
Of course, recovery, much less growth and transformation, does not always happen. It depends on many factors, but especially on having circles of support. We need other people—friends, family, colleagues, faith communities, sometimes professionals and others. It is possible to engage the grief journey alone, but it is definitely the hard way to travel and can make one’s journey with grief very slow.
This is why Genesis’ compassionate, quality health services include care for those left behind when a loved one dies. Genesis Grief Support exists because we want no one to have to go it alone.
I have had the privilege of companioning people along their grief journeys for over thirty years working in churches and as a hospital chaplain. I have also suffered my own losses, like the unexpected death of my husband of forty-five years together and followed by my mother’s death less than a year later. I have seen in others and in myself the transformative power of grief and how redemptive suffering can be.
A Brief Stop on a Long Journey
"Grieving is a journey that teaches us how to
love in a new way now that our loved one is
no longer with us. Consciously remembering
those who have died is the key that opens the
hearts that allows us to love them in new
ways" - Tom Attig, The Heart of Grief.
Now in retirement, I volunteer at Genesis Grief Support by making follow up phone calls to families a few days after their loved one dies. Most of the people I call are too distracted by the need to make arrangements, frequent visitors and a sense of abnormality to really want to talk long or be in touch with their feelings.
In these situations I see my call as simply a reminder that the Genesis’ caring staff is going to continue to companion them whatever their need. I let them know they will be receiving a packet of information about the normal grieving process and that more Genesis Grief Support services are available to them when and if they need them. I remind them they can call for grief support at any time on our helpline at 563-421-5000.
Sometimes, however, I catch a person who for whatever reason really needs to talk. Then I listen. Sometimes they express appreciation for the care provided to their loved one; sometimes it is appreciation for all the support coming their way from family, friends, work colleagues, church, etc.; sometimes it’s their sense of shock about the death; sometimes it is relief that their loved one is now at peace; sometimes it is the raw pain they are feeling – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
Wherever they are, my call is reassurance that Genesis Grief Support is and will be with them into the future. I am honored to be a brief stop in a long journey. The journey is hard but Genesis cares before and after a loved one’s death and insures that the journey will not be any harder than it needs to be. There is still connection. There is hope. There is still help.
Click here for more information. You may also contact a Genesis Grief Support staff member at 563-421-5000.