Home Features Practical ways to handle grief and the attendant pain by Dr. Olayinka Dada

Practical ways to handle grief and the attendant pain by Dr. Olayinka Dada

by Church Times

 A Regional Pastor and Assistant Continental Overseer, The Americas Continent in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Dr. Olayinka Dada shares his moment of grief and gives insight on how to cope when tragedy happens. Find below

grief

Dr. Yinka Dada

 

 The response to grief varies from culture to culture. In my culture, grief is suppressed with efforts to mask natural symptoms and emotions.

Getting back to your normal routine is seen as a form of strength; the faster you get back, the stronger you are.

 Recently, I lost my immediate younger brother. His death was sudden. I spoke to him the day before his death and he was hail and hearty. The news of his untimely passing sent a shockwave through my entire body. I was numb. I felt trapped inside a bubble or cloud.

I have been in great distress and extreme pain since his death. My heart is turned within me. My strength is gone. My bones are extremely weak. I am at a loss for words as the anguish is unbearable. 

 First, it starts off with denial,  ‘It can’t be; he is still alive.’

 Then followed by anger. I became angry at everything: the Nigerian Government, the medical system, the people around me with their comforting words that made me feel even more miserable, etc. I was cranky and easily angered. Any slight background noise during communication always irritated and worsened my mood.

 I later started to bargain with our Maker, creating what felt like an endless list of ‘what-ifs.

“What if he was in a developed world with established first responders?”

“What if he did not go to bed earlier?”

“What If I was with him?”

“What if there was no COVID-19 pandemic lockdown?”

 And so many more.

 This feeling transitioned into despair and later acceptance of the fact that he is really dead. The emotional rollercoaster lasted for many days (and is still ongoing). 

I am sharing my experience to highlight the following:

Grieving is a natural process and it takes time to fully go through it. It is personal, yet universal. Don’t fake it. Don’t mask it. Don’t avoid it. Don’t play strong. Extraordinary healing of our mental, emotional, physical, social, and intellectual well-being must take place in order to be whole and fully functioning again.

Prepare and plan for tomorrow. Prior to my brother’s death, I had recorded my daily broadcast (Divine Daily Prescription) for the following two weeks. I asked someone to share it daily on my behalf. My listeners thought I was still strong to record daily even at my lowest moment. They were wrong. I could not even post it myself!

Isolation is a great killer

Relationships are essential for living. Isolation is a great killer. The visitation of friends helped a great deal. Even though, there were times I just wanted to be alone, the presence of friends and the reading of tributes and encouraging words motivated me. It is a great distraction from negative thoughts.

The impact of marital relationships. Sometimes I just wanted to cry on someone’s shoulders and my wife was there. When I wanted to cling to someone tightly, my wife was there. When weak, worn out, and wearied with no strength to get up, my wife was there.

When low and listless to pray, my wife was there for me. Ecclesiastes 4:9 -10 (MSG) sums it all by saying “It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, But if there’s no one to help, tough!”

We are mortal. Death is a part of life, we all owe death. We are on a journey, making us pilgrims here on earth – from birth to death or from cradle to the grave. We are here for just a short and fleeting moment. We are all sojourners, we are all strangers. Are you prepared? Don’t put your treasures here on earth, but build treasures in heaven; live with the end in sight.

Ask for God’s help

Prayers. Ask God for His help, His touch, for coping mechanisms, and for healing. Even though the mind and body are intricately connected, grief’s emotional rollercoaster will present you with days or times you are too weak to your bones to even pray or study the Bible. The prayer of agreement with loved ones can help lift you up. Let friends and parishioners pray for you. It is fundamental. 

Settle relationships and make peace. Paul warns us in Hebrews 12:14 by saying “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord”. That is, one should avoid conflict at all costs. Settle any issues and forgive no matter the gravity of the offence. Avoid bitterness and guard your heart. Live holy. You need the Spirit of Jesus Christ in order to love the unlovable and forgive all. Ask Him for his Spirit and He will gladly give it to you, freely.

Grief: No one is exempted

 In conclusion, no one is exempt from grief. If you suffer any loss or pain, you will go through it. The duration of the grieving process varies from individual to individual. It depends on factors such as the ability to express oneself unhindered through crying, the support systems around you, comforting words, circumstances surrounding the loss, personality, religious beliefs, and more.

Allowing the natural process to occur without bottling up or masking emotions is quintessential to optimal and sound health. It is important to note that grief can also be complicated and seeking professional help whether spiritual or medical might be required if your grief seems to be unending.

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