Grief is something we will all experience at some time or another. I have had eight losses since last June, and most of them have hit close to home. I also realize my friends and family have also recently experienced losses and it seems we are attending more funerals than weddings. Not to mention the celebrities we have recently loss such as Bobbi Kristina and it becomes overwhelming. Grief is not just limited to a death, it can be any loss. Job loss, divorce, foreclosure, break up, are all losses and many of us on top of experiencing a death may have endured one or some of these. There are five stages of grief: Shock, Anger, Bargaining, Acceptance, and Resolution. Although this is the order of the stages it doesn’t mean you will grieve in that order. You may go back and forth, stages may overlap, and there is no time period. It’s important that you take whatever time you need to grieve and process the death of your loved one or your loss. Everyone has their own way and eventually you will get to a place of resolution. So if need to cry, or scream do it!!! I hate when people tell you not to cry or just because of your faith you know the person is in a better place so you shouldn’t cry. No matter how strong of a person you are or how strong you may be in your faith it doesn’t take away the pain. GOD weeps with us! The worst thing you can do is suppress it, you have to deal with it! There are resources such as grief support groups, and individual counseling. I myself love both, I’m a advocate for counseling its a great tool! You have to decide whats best for you, just know you don’t have to go it along! And if you find yourself in a deep depression please seek the help of a healthcare professional. Remember self care is very important during the grieving process if you don’t want to crash and burn. It can be journaling, taking a bubble bath, prayer, meditation, reading, visiting with a friend, taking a walk, treating yourself to lunch, massage,etc, taking a vacation, and maybe you can’t do the big ticket items everyday but the little ones you can. It’s ok to take a break, ask for help, and place boundaries where needed. Grief comes in waves, some days I may have a memory that makes me laugh, then there are days I cry uncontrollably, sometimes I feel pained as if a lump is in my throat that want move. Grief also triggers other grief so although you are dealing with one loss, you may start thinking of another loss, or all of them together. I loss my father last June he wasn’t my biological dad but he was my father the man who raised me, and I still wrestle with it. I don’t understand it, and I’m still asking GOD why. I hate that I didn’t get to say good bye, yes he was in the hospital but we expected him to live. He got sick all of a sudden and out of no where and no one saw it coming. I ask GOD why did such a good man have to leave the world suffering in the hospital, why couldn’t he die a peaceful death? The Chaplin told me to ask GOD these questions when I meet him, I will and I do now. I still don’t have the answers I seek, however I thank GOD for giving me a peace the surpasses all understanding. Tomorrow would have been my parent’s 26th wedding anniversary, last year was there 25th but he had passed two months prior. It also would have been his 70th birthday last October. Today is the one year anniversary of my Uncle’s death, I will never forget this day because I was in the Christian book store getting my mom a anniversary gift in remembrance of my father that said love never dies. My mom called screaming and crying in the phone saying “Uncle Homer just died”. I rushed to get her and we went to the hospital which ironically was the same hospital where my father had died a couple of months prior, can you imagine? Here again we were looking at a deceased loved one in a hospital bed. Then in April of this year my boyfriend’s dad passed, we watched him take his last breath. During that time I got a call that my biological dad was terminally ill with cancer and he just passed on July 17th. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to visit with him multiple times, I was able to tell him that I forgave him and that I loved him, I was able to pray and sing with him, play gospel music via Pandora and just be able to care for him when I visited. God allowed me to say good bye to him, I said my goodbyes on a Wednesday and he passed on a Friday. I realized one day while visiting him that it didn’t matter who was right or wrong, what he had done or not, I instantly forgave him for the things I felt he didn’t do and the ways I felt wronged by him. The tears started pouring and all I knew was I loved him and he loved me. I hated to see him dying of such a cruel disease such as cancer, he was literally deteriorating before my eyes. The one thing I have noticed through each loss is that grief brings out the ugliness in people. People argue over the funeral arrangements, assets, and everything in between. All of sudden people feel a sense of entitlement and they even try to question the relationship you had with your loved one. Truth is everybody has had their own experience/relationship with the loved one and each person will have their own story. When someone passes you are left with memories the good, bad, and indifferent. No one can tell you how to feel or measure the pain you are feeling. However people will do their best to make you feel guilty or dad. You can’t fall victim to any of it! Just realize that your family member or friend is grieving and may be experiencing a lot of anger, guilt,etc. We have to extend each other some grace and space! And when you lash out extend yourself some grace and put yourself timeout. Sometimes you even have to do this during the funeral arrangements. Death can be a painful experience however it can also be a teachable moment. Great things can come from pain! A few lessons I’ve learned are: enjoy the moments you have with your loved ones, treat each day as you last, live don’t just exist, take opportunities when they present themselves, dance in rain, find peace in the storm, live your dreams, say I love you often, forgive, make amends where needed, leave the work sometimes and play, get some sun each day, you don’t have to be right all the time, do random acts of kindness, get your affairs in order because death is certain, if its something you want to do or say, just do it! When we experience loss people say I’m here if you need me or let me know if its anything I can. Well let me tell most people aren’t going to ask you for help or tell you what they need. Therefore these are a few things people need when they experience a loss: support, help, money, company, and food. Money because people have to buy clothing to wear to the funeral, hair dos and hair cuts, food, depending on the policy it may not cover all the expenses,etc. However everybody may not be able to buy something or give money but there are countless other things you can do. People need you to just call them, and allow them to vent. Go deeper than sympathy and show some empathy by visiting them, hug them, and cry with them. Maybe you help with the program, making arrangements, making phone calls, and everybody is coming to there house so you could help them clean up or receive their guests when they want to take rest. Company is not just needed during the days before and the day of the funeral. As my mom would say people need company after the fried chicken is gone. And I know for me who wants to cook during this time or the days ahead. Therefore you can’t go wrong with taking food to the family house even days and weeks after. Lastly one the most touching things was friend’s inviting us over for dinner after my dad’s funeral, they were sending the food with us but I said please enjoy it with us. We stayed over and ate, watched movies, enjoyed their company, and they sent food back with us; that was the sweetest. I had another friend to treat me to breakfast. I will never forget that, and I will do just that for someone who experiences a loss. GOD promises us in his word “blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted”. Without GOD I couldn’t do grief or get through it! GOD is able!