Working Through the Grief Process

“Five days ago none of us thought we would be sitting here”.  Those words spoken by the priest officiating at my brother’s funeral mass continue to resonate as truth.  None of his family and friends thought that this tragic event was a possibility.  Yet within a matter of seconds, on July 3, 2015, our family experienced a traumatic loss far outside the realm of what we normally expect in life.

Suicide is a shocking event. It shatters our world and sends us reeling. We have no defenses that prepare us for the horror of losing a loved one like this.  Sadness, depression and despair are inevitable following the loss of a loved one by suicide.

Loss by suicide is traumatic.  The grief experienced is unlike any other.  It leaves people with significant invisible wounds.  Our bodies go into hyper-alert and serotonin levels plunge.  We are left with debilitating symptoms of depression as well as post-traumatic stress that lasts and lasts.

In the midst of my profound grief, I was looking for a tool I could share with my family members that might help them.  I am a faith community nurse, and that is what I do.  I direct people to resources that they can use; practical tools to help them on their life journey.  All of a sudden, it came to me, “Good Grief”, Granger Westberg’s little gem of a book.

I grabbed it from my bookshelf and read it again. Granger has touched many people’s lives through this book, with more than three million copies having been sold.  He gives insights and practical approaches for dealing with grief in a healthy way.

One of the biggest appeals is the simple way it is written. It is a small book that packs a big punch.  It is an easy read for people dealing with grief, who are having difficulty focusing.  It can be read from cover to cover. Or, the book is divided into ten stages of grief, describing the road most people must travel to get back into life for each stage.  You can also use the index to key in on a specific issue you are facing.

In this book, Granger addresses individual spirituality and faith as part of your grief journey.  He talks about using your “spiritual muscles”, actively using what you have developed on your spiritual journey throughout your life to sustain you during this dark time.  Through your faith, you realize that life will never be the same, but you will gradually find the path to life again.  By faith, we have walked through the valley of the shadow of grief and will come out stronger.

If you have a copy of “Good Grief” sitting on a shelf I encourage you to pick it up and reread it.  It is applicable to loss in all kinds of life events – from loss through death to loss from divorce, employment, family relationships or addiction.  Think of someone in your life who may benefit from this book, and “pay it forward”.  Not only will you be sharing a resource that will be helpful to the person you gift, but you are continuing to share Granger’s insights on living faith-filled and healthy lives, a timeless classic.

“I walked a mile with Pleasure, she chattered all the way, but I was none the wiser, for all she had to say;
I walked a mile with Sorrow, ne’er a word did she say, but oh, the things I learned from her- when Sorrow walked with me.”
– Robert Hamilton


Resource note:
An additional Health Ministries resource recommendation,   “After Suicide Loss: Coping with Your Grief” by Bob Baugher PhD and Jack Jordan, PhD.  This book takes the reader through the first few hours, days, weeks, months, year, and beyond.  It addresses the practical issues you may face because of this trauma.  It is an excellent resource for anyone touched by suicide.