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Thursday, October 7, 2010

What I'm Reading Today: Genesis 48-50

My maternal grandmother – to whom I was always close – moved into my hometown the summer before I entered the 8th grade. From that time until I graduated from high school and left for college, I was my grandmother's primary caretaker.

My grandmother was in remarkably good physical shape during the final years of her life. Her greatest challenge was that she wrestled with Alzheimer 's disease. This meant that it was a challenge for those of us who loved her to watch her mentally deteriorate before our eyes.

Shortly after I went away to college, my folks moved my grandmother into a group home where she continued to exist for another six years. She finally passed away at the age of 85 in 1991.

In the days between my grandmother's death and her funeral, I didn't expect that the funeral would be all that difficult for me emotionally since in many ways we had been saying goodbye to my grandmother for years. On the day of the funeral, however, I was surprised to realize that my emotions were every bit as strong as if my grandmother had died suddenly from a heart attack.

The experience taught me an important lesson about grief: grief is unpredictable. You have no way of knowing exactly what it will look like or how it will feel until you are in the midst of it.

Unfortunately, our society has yet to learn this lesson. Most folks act as if there is a predictable cycle or pattern to the grief process. In its most cruel form, some get impatient with folks who don't "complete" the grief process (if there is such a thing) in a timeline considered acceptable. People will judge some by saying things like, "You still haven't gotten over your loss? You should have by now."

I appreciated today's passage from Genesis because it gives us an example of how Joseph dealt with his grief around losing his father. He took time off, he participated in the rituals/travel he needed to, and he gave himself the time he needed to process his feelings.

Perhaps you have experienced a loss in your life that you are still living with and (on some level) are judging yourself for not handling the grief in ways others might expect. If that's the case, cut yourself some slack. Don't judge your feelings – honor the. Then realize that grief is a process that (1) looks different for everyone, and (2) has no specific timetable attached.

Til next time …

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