In our world of instant gratification, people do not always understand why the process of loss and grieving can take so long. Yet, loss allows us to rest in the grace of God and draw us closer to him, maturing our faith as our perspective of life changes, and we find meaning in our grief.
Drawing from his expertise as a certified trauma expert and own experience, H. Norman Wright helps nurses and healthcare workers work through grief and loss in his book, Recovering from Losses in Life. He tackles difficult issues such as blaming God for your loss and learning how to express yourself as you share your pain with others
Wright describes three grief responses:
- you express your feelings about your loss
- you express your protest at the loss as well as your desire to change what happened and have it not be true
- you express the effects you’ve experienced from the devastating impact of the loss. “The overall purpose of grief is to bring you to the point of making necessary changes so you can live with the loss in a healthy way,” Wright says.
When we grieve, we move through several stages of denial, with each stage bringing the reality of the loss to a deeper and more painful level. The anniversary of the death or something that reminds you of that person brings with it an intensity of grief that rivals our initial feelings of loss. Friends and family members may not understand how to respond. It’s okay to let them know what you do or don’t need. People experiencing grief mainly want someone who will accept and understand them.
The actual recovery time from loss varies depending on the intensity and type of loss, including traumatic events that shatter our sense of safety and refuge. Nurses may witness serious injury or death, or experience threats from patients along with long, stressful shifts. Trauma changes our grief response with feelings of hopelessness, flashbacks, and isolation. As we stay connected to others, it helps us to recover. “The normal losses we all experience will be handled so much better when our identity is in Christ, and we see ourselves from God’s perspective—valued, loved, and sufficient because of Him,” notes Wright.
Study questions and a list of resources at the end of the book making it ideal for a small group study. Recovering from Losses in Life (2006) is published by Revell.
Diane Stegmeir, RN, MACL, CDE, CCM, is a diabetes case manager in Salem, Oregon.