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The Sting of Grief

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Having experienced multiple (close and personal) losses, I am poignantly acquainted with the sting of grief. The loss of my oldest sister who died at the age of 36 with five children, my only brother who died from complications with drug addiction, my first child who died on my birthday, my father who died when I was only 18 years old my freshman year in college, and my dear mother with whom I was very close and  her caretaker while she was on hospice care has equipped me to identify with others who have experienced similar losses and it has been because of my faith, family and friends that I have been able to have hope in the midst of it all.

The unconditional love and providential care of God have been an impeccable source of strength that has made a profound sensitivity in my heart in times of bereavement. I am compelled to believe in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles concerning death, dying and they die in the Lord as well as the assertion that we should comfort one another with these instructions; and the Holy Spirit will call to remembrance those things revealed.  The institution of family was also a source of strength as it is intrinsically designed to support and comfort.  

The losses have since become an inspiration of joy and laughter as we reflect upon the memories of those gone but not forgotten. Friendships have also become even more meaningful in quality and quantity of time spent together. Sharpening and encouraging one another are valued commodities that could never be replaced.  This has been and will continue to be a progressive journey where our relationships and love for one another will be paramount over and above any other any other worldly possession.

I am also grateful for the amazing scholarship and riveting testimonies of others who have barred their souls in an expressed effort for others to benefit from their experience with grief. Harold Kushner’s “When bad things happen to good people” helped me at a time when I was 18 years old and lost my father to ask the right questions in order to get the right answers. 

Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s “On Death and Dying” helped me to get in touch with the anger repressed so that I could embrace the acceptance denied. All of which was instrumental in giving me an insight in the hope offered in Christ Jesus through the comfort of the Holy Spirit.  

In II Corinthians 1:4, the apostle Paul asserts praise to God for comfort received so that it may be given to others in dire times of necessity.  Recognizing that this perspective is germane to Christian believers and/or at best to those who are receptive to such belief, there are others from different persuasions who also need support.  Consequently the resonating sound of cpe101 mandates that we find people where they are, address them where they are and serve them where they are. And since we live in a pluralistic and diverse society, facilitating their need for hope in the midst of grief requires getting to know them so that their needs are adequately met.  If it is immediate, it may require being a good sounding board with active/reflective/non-judgmental listening. If there is the permission of time, we can reach out to resources with compatible beliefs e.g. Catholics may require catholic priests, Muslims may require Muslim priests or imam, Jehovah’s Witnesses may require other baptized members who are considered ordained ministers.  

In any event, assisting others with hope in the midst of grief is a precious labor of love that primarily requires a ministry of presence where we make ourselves available to others in a capacity that is specifically and individually determined by the one in need; and when we know what is needed, then we can extend ourselves as an instrument by the one who can supply all our needs according to his riches in glory as expressed in Philippians 4:19 it is my humble belief that we can not offer that which we have not received; therefore it is incumbent upon us who are in a position to assist others that we ourselves have been assisted. 

Charles Gibson

Chaplain II PruittHealth Hospice (Macon)

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