TnT Talk: 7 Stages of Grief
Have you ever taken on the responsibility of talking to a bunch of 3rd-6th graders about losing a loved one? I did, and I was excited; I had a couple of weeks to prepare, and then boom, the weekend before I was supposed to speak came, and I was like crap. I still need to prepare. I recently got back on a Let's Talk of the Young Dad Podcast; I talked about the seven stages of grief, yes 7; I added two that are super important. It's important to note that these kids go to a Bible-based program called AWANA; if religion isn't your thing, proceed as you may.
How many of you here today have lost someone you love, whether they passed away and went to heaven, or let's say it was a pet that went to heaven?
How many of you have had a best friend move away, or were you the friend that moved away? How many of you stopped seeing a family member or friend you liked because they moved away? How many lost a parent or a parental figure due to a breakup/divorce?
Grief comes in a lot of forms. It comes fast, at the worst possible times, and when we least want it to happen. Let's take our lesson to the Bible quickly; each book of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote about Jesus's death in the New Testament. How do you guys think that the people felt about Jesus's death? Correct, they were sad, devastated even.
Let's talk about the seven stages of grief. Yes, we're going to get through all seven super fast.
Stage 1: Fear
In Luke 8:24-25, Jesus addresses his disciples as he is calming the storm; he asks, "Where is your Faith" When we lose someone, as I said earlier, it's often sudden, and we often can't prepare for it. It's scary trying to navigate life without that person. It's okay to be scared.
Stage 2: Denial
Who knows the apostle that denied Jesus in the New Testament 3 times? Correct, Simon Peter. Do you guys remember why he denied Jesus? It's because he was scared and feared what would happen. That's not exactly the kind of denial I want to talk about. We can often deny that we lost the person we lost; we can deny our feelings of sadness and fear and deny the pain we are feeling.
Stage 3: Anger
When we deny our feelings, those feelings turn into a new, compelling emotions. Does anyone have a guess? Correct again, Anger. There is a great verse in Ephesians 4: 26-27" In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry."
Stage 4: Bargaining
How many have tried to make a deal with Him when we have prayed for God to help us? For example, " Dear God, you know if you take this anger from me, I will pray more and share the bible with friends more/." Is that really how it works? We also try to bargain or make a deal with ourselves, let's say we start being sad on Friday, and we tell ourselves we have to be happy by Monday. Why? Grief has no time limits, and you don't have to be okay by a particular day, date, or time. It's on you.
Stage 5: Confusion
Now, when you are dealing with grief and losing someone you love. It's going to be complicated. There will be days, and times, after you feel you are doing better when you feel sad. When you're at the store, and song that reminds you of that person comes on. You might be doing something, like fishing, that person, and you might have gone fishing in the past. You're suddenly sad, but you thought you were over it. What's happening at that moment is you remember that person and honor their memory. The person might be gone. But the memory isn't.
Stage 6: Depression
How many of you know what depression is? You're right if you think it's like a profound sadness. However, it looks different for everyone. Some will cry and be sad; some might eat or not eat, some might sleep more, and some might not. Personally, one of the times I was the most depressed was when my divorce happened a couple of years ago. I didn't eat, lost 60 pounds, was mad at everyone, and wasn't sleeping much. Suppose you are ever feeling anything like this kind of sadness or notice a change in your eating or sleeping. Please, do two things- pray and talk to someone you trust.
Lastly- Stage 7- Acceptance
Know that your fear is normal, your denial is common, and your anger is emotions mixed; know not to make a deal with yourself, don't ignore why you feel sad, pray and talk to someone.
When the time comes, and you have come to the place where you can accept life at its new standard, embrace it. Go forward with faith that you will be okay, that God has a plan for you, and that you will be okay. There is no rush to healing; let God heal you in His time.
How would you have answered these questions from my kiddos?
What do you do when you're frustrated with a friend you know is hurting because of a divorce and want to help them?
I answered, well, you have to take yourself out of it. You aren't the one going through it. It would be best to reassure your friend that you are there for them when they are ready. Remember, they are on their time. You can also pray for them.
What do you do if you don't feel like you can talk to your mom, parent, or an adult about your sad feelings and depression?
Honestly, this question broke my heart. I hope and pray that my kids will always come to me and talk to their mother or me if they feel depressed. I answered, well, that's a hard one. You can talk to other adults, teachers, and leaders. You can also pray cause He is always listening to us and wants to hear our troubles, even the sad ones. I also suggested they write their feelings to help let them out.