Grief can occur from a multitude of things. I grieved when Daddy was diagnosed with cancer. I grieved when Mother was diagnosed with dementia and I realized that the mother I had known was lost to me. I grieved when each of them died. All three forms are the same process, the same pain.

There are 5 stages to grief:

  1. denial and isolation
  2. anger
  3. bargaining
  4. depression
  5. acceptance

You don’t always go through them in order, and may not experience all of them. Grief is unique to the individual, and can hit you out of the blue: in a movie, at the store, when you pick up the phone to call them and realize that they aren’t there to call.

You have to allow yourself to grieve. There is no correct amount of time and no right way. It is personal, but if you don’t allow yourself to heal, you can move into complex grief, which requires professional help.

One of the hardest things in dealing with grief, is that while you are dealing with yours, and trying to hang on, others are dealing with theirs, and trying to hang on, and you are thrown into the mix together.

There are 3 personality types for expressing grief:

  • Intuitive mourners– touchy, feely, comfortable with emotion. Sensitive to others. Less able to rationalize and may appear more overwhelmed and devastated.
  • Instrumental mourners – seek accurate information, analyze facts, make informed decisions, problem solvers. They may appear to others as cold and uncaring, seeming to be dispassionate and detached
  • Dissonant mourners – in conflict between what they experience internally and what they express outwardly. They are in conflict with themselves and want to avoid it. They struggle to hide their true feelings in order to maintain the image they want to put forth. They may condemn themselves and feel guilty for not feeling what they think they are suppose to feel.

Whichever category you are in, to you that is the right way. It is easy to judge others and be angry, but it is important to remember to have grace for those in the other categories, too.

In the body of Christ, we are gifted in different areas. Some are merciful, others are nurturers, others servants. But as we grow in Christ, we try to develop all of these areas within ourselves, and learn to do what doesn’t come naturally.

The way you handle grief and caring for elderly parents can be viewed in the same way. We need to step up and do whatever needs to be done. Do your part and let others do theirs, in all areas. You need each other, and need to help each other stay healthy.

There are people willing to help you. Let them. Find someone who has experienced it, and ask questions. Turn to your family and friends. They are the physical hug from the Living God Who will get you through this.

This post was written by Darla Carthel. To read more about her, click here