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Understanding the Death of a Friend
Death is all around us
Every day, we read about people dying, there is war, conflict, murders, natural deaths and sudden deaths. How do people cope with death and the loss of a loved one? Death is final, it is the end of life on this earth, and it is traumatic and sad.
It is a fact, we cannot escape death and it will happen. How people die and when is not in our hands but of our God. God is a just and incredible father who loves us unconditionally, and His word has prepared us to overcome death and grieving yet we sometimes still let the flow of traumatic emotions run through our minds when we confront the death of a loved one.
Romans 8: 35 -39 says:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the daylong; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is encouraging to know that our Lord is always with His people and that there is nothing that can separate us from his love, not even death.
Sadness, depression and grieving the loss of a loved one
Coming to terms with death of a loved one is a personal experience and emotions overwhelm the grieving person. There is no right or wrong way to mourn the loss of a loved one. Each person experiences different emotions and the first most important fact to remember is no matter what emotion comes to the fore, it is normal. Yes, it is normal and a person is not crazy if they cry, or remain silent or whatever reaction flows from their mind.
Grief as we know, is the reaction people experience at the loss of a loved one, and affects our mind, body, emotions and spirit. Often while travelling through the process of grief, a person will notice physical reactions such as lack of appetite, sleep, crying, restlessness and unable to relax.
Thought patterns of the loss run through the mind and memories of good times and sad times bring flood the mind. Questions of how and why this happened and trying to understand the finality of death, knowing it is real.
Sadness, guilt, despair, anger and hope are strong emotions that trigger immediately upon the news of a death. Confronting spiritual meaning and reactions is another way people try to understand and accept the loss, yet questions are raised as to why, while we deal with the grief.
Allowing time to heal the grief
Mourning is a process and there are no rules, it is a unique experience for each individual and having support during this time is important. Although there are times when a person would prefer to be alone, perhaps to reflect on the relationship and find comfort in the Word of God, there are times when help is needed. Losing a loved one often leaves a gaping hole in the lives of the survivors and having support from either family or friends do help the process.
While there is no time limit for a person to grief, understanding and support is unconditional and each person should be allowed to go through the process of grieving and coming to terms with the reality of death. Denial is often the first reaction and a person can experience this emotion when learning of the death of a loved one.
Emotions of anger and rage can overwhelm a person when told of a death. The outburst of anger or rage is not specifically targeted at medical help, friends, family or the deceased but merely an emotion of accepting or trying to come to terms with the loss.
Depression is another reality that can affect people coping with the loss of a loved one. The overwhelming sadness is normal and will not last forever.
Life continues with blessed assurances
However long, a person takes to deal with the loss of a loved one, is acceptable, there are no rules and it is up to the individual to come to terms with death. There are the comforting assurances from the Word of God that help during the sad times. It is these inspired verses that can bring understanding and guidance to go forward, knowing that the unconditional love of God is always with you.
Isaiah 25: 8
He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign LORD will wipe away all tears. He will remove forever all insults and mockery against his land and people. The LORD has spoken!
For no one is cast off by the Lord forever.32 though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.
Perhaps the most comforting scripture during the process of grief is –
Matthew 5: 4
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Coming to terms with the loss is the acceptance that the loved one has left the world and does not mean that the deceased will be forgotten. Indeed not, the pain experienced will diminish and will be manageable. Moving forward with life yet never forgetting the loss is a process and often memories will flood the mind to remind a person of the good, bad or sad times.
Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
The above two verses are uplifting, encouraging and supportive during the process of mourning. Walking closer to the Lord during the distress of losing a loved one is comforting; it is the inner peace that helps to come to terms with the universal love flowing through the situation.
I am coming to terms with the death of my friend Paddy; it is painful, sad and distressing. I have found comfort from the incredible help, and support given during his last few minutes on earth. The doctors, paramedics who arrived within five minutes to attend to him were professional, experienced and a pillar of strength. The support from Hospice (the palliative care association of South Africa) who brings dignity in death, support during bereavement, gave their unconditional love and comfort during this time. There amazing staff are just that, amazing. The friends and family members surrounded by the sudden death all trying to deal with their personal sadness at the loss of such an astonishing man united to support each other and assist during this sad time.
Paddy Gibb, the master florist, genius creator of outstanding floral arrangements, compassionate and well-loved person will always remain an inspiration to the ones left behind.
However difficult it is coming to terms with the death of a loved one, the greatest comfort I have found is from the assurance from the Word of God. The overwhelming love and support of friends and family is incredible. It is only through the powerful love and grace of God that strength is given to accept the truth.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.