Honest Grief – Guest Post

grief, guest blog, emotions, #inspirationEvery person faces grief in their life. Some are thrust into the deepest, darkest parts of the valley of the shadow of death as they deal with life-altering losses. Serenity McLean is one of those people. With a background in adult education, she wrote Honest Grief to support others in their own unique journey through the valley. She’s my guest blogger today.

Without going into a lot of detail, I’ve lived through three years of loss. No aspect of my life was left untouched by the devastation. I hardly caught my breath from one major loss when the next hit. After three or four, I found it more difficult to get back up and carry on. After eight or nine, my life was a shambles and I was ready to just stay crumpled in a fetal position.

I’ve heard a lot of advice from well-meaning people about what grief should look like. From my perspective of walking in the deepest parts of the valley of the shadow of death, loss and grief, I wonder if many have become caught up in the happy-at-all-costs craze. In today’s instant gratification society, people expect instant happiness. Just look at the popularity of the song Happy – you know the one, “clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.” Having dealt with a lot of grief, I can honestly say happiness is not the truth. Don’t be fooled into believing a person is failing at life because of an absence of happy while grieving.

The truth is, life is not sunshine and unicorns every day. Most of us will deal with a loss of some significance, and it takes time to come to terms with the pain, anguish, sorrow, regret, remorse, anger, hopelessness, helplessness, and a myriad of very honest and real emotions. In fact, there are more than three dozen challenging emotions common to someone grieving. None of these can be dealt with in three bereavement days. When they all come at once it’s going to take a lot of time and work to address what I call grief stew. There is a road through grief to peace. It just takes time to forge a path through the chaos and turmoil. It simply takes time to seal up the wounds of a broken heart.

So next time your friend experiences the death of their loved one, don’t expect them to find their way out of that valley of the shadow of death quickly. Be gentle with them in their sorrow, because they are being refined. Sorrow is one of the most difficult things we humans can deal with. Be patient with your friend. It takes a long time to complete the journey through that dark and lonely valley. Grief can require months, even years to work through. When your friend emerges from the valley, they will carry deep scars, but they will be exquisitely beautiful. They will be a person of fortitude. They will be someone worth knowing.

One of the best things (and hardest things) you can do for your grieving friend is to stay close. Now more than ever they need a steady true friend. When many disappear because they fear the unhappiness, you can accept this is their journey and remain their friend.

Serenity McLean, the author of five Christian fiction novels, just released Honest Grief, a not-so-ordinary guidebook to surviving the abyss.

Happy to Help

#inspiration, friendship, assistanceA friend recently took on the task of updating my website. This is something I’m not able to do on my own and would normally have to pay someone else to complete.

Her generosity in helping me out in this way is incredible. Hours of time are being spent on something that gives her no obvious benefit. When I express my thanks, as I do frequently, she brushes it off, saying, “It’s no big deal and something I enjoy doing.”

Another friend recently asked me for help on a project she’s working on. This was in my area of expertise and I was glad to offer whatever assistance I could.
When she thanked me, I found myself saying, “It was no problem. I’m happy to help you anytime.”

It was no coincidence I met with both of these friends on the same day. I’d been feeling guilty about accepting the generosity offered to me, while freely offering the same to another. Thinking about how good it felt to assist one friend helped me understand why another would willingly spend time helping me.

If I refused her offer, I’d be denying her this joy. What a concept! I’m doing something for you by letting you do something for me. And, you are making me happy by allowing me to do something for you. This is the ultimate win-win situation!

“The greatest good is what we do for one another.” Mother Teresa

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