The Many Facets of Grief

Welcome  We all know what it means to grieve.  We are keenly aware of this act and the emotions it brings forth when we face the loss of a loved one.  But did you know that grief can encompass more of life than just the passing of friends and relatives?  I think it’s important to be aware of the different types of grief we may encounter, for ourselves, but also for those we love and seek to comfort.  Thank you for joining me today.

Food For Thought  The definition of grief is “to feel great sorrow, especially following a death.”  Synonyms for grieving include mourning, lamenting, crying, sobbing, weeping, suffering, and aching.  After any loss or great change in life, we can be left with feelings of grief, complete with weeping and aching.

I want to stress this point: I am NOT downplaying the grief felt following the loss of a loved-one.  This type of grief leaves a void like NO other.  I have friends that have had to grieve the loss of their husbands and I watch, unable to fathom that type of loss and the feelings that go with that experience.  But any feeling of loss can have us experiencing the stages of grief.

Other types of loss that may prompt stages of grief include the loss of a job, home, or relationship.  It can look like bankruptcy or empty nest syndrome.  Your very best friend may be moving across the country or you may have found out it’s necessary to change church homes.  I have even seen an article about grief at the end of a vacation time.  There is an element of loss in each of these circumstances that can spur feelings of emptiness and deep sadness.  It is necessary to process them, just as someone grieves following a death.  The well-known and widely-published five stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  During any type of loss, a person may experience these in the suggested sequential order or experience them in a variety of patterns.

I thought I was being irrational when I felt a sense of grief following the exit from my teaching career.  How could I possibly be sad when this was a choice I had wanted to make?  It seemed completely wrong and I thought I was losing my mind, again!  But this is not uncommon, according to most mental health care professionals.  I was given assurance that I was not “crazy” and that it was actually normal for me to go through a period of grief, because in a sense, a piece of my life died the day I walked out of my classroom for the last time.  The career that had consumed eighteen years of my adult life, along with the years studying and working on my degrees, was like a relationship that had suddenly come to an end.  Because I felt more than ready for this change in my life, at the time, I failed to prepare myself for the sense of loss that would come.  This hit the hardest at the end of last summer.  I was used to being home during the summers so the first three months after leaving my job felt pretty normal.  In August and September, while grateful to not be going through the back-to-school chaos and dealing with the unsavory side of teaching, I still found myself feeling empty and somewhat lost.

You could say I started off with denial.  How can I possibly be sad about leaving a job I was so sick and tired of?  When people asked if I missed it, I emphatically said “No!”  I wouldn’t even consider talking to anyone about what was going on at my former school.  Then I was angry!  I wasn’t angry about choosing to leave, but I was very angry about who was hired to take “my” place in the classroom.  I was angry about the feelings I had when I left and harsh words that were spoken.  I was angry about not making it to retirement.  I was angry that I had put all my eggs in one basket…I don’t know how to do anything but teach.  I was SO angry that no one missed me or cared about what I was doing now.  No one says anger has to be rational while in this stage of grieving.  I was also doing my fair share of bargaining with God. Somehow with a belief that if I worked harder for Him, studied harder, prayed more, He could make my situation better.

Then the depression hit.  I went several months this winter in a sea of self-pity.  I’m a failure.  I couldn’t hack it.  I wasn’t good at my job.  I’ll never be successful.  I can’t do anything right.  No body likes me or wants me around.  The world would be better off without me.  Yes, folks, it gets that bad!  That’s how you know it’s depression.  My poor husband had to listen to this mess night after night.

Then, the clouds give way and the sun shines again, both literally and figuratively.  Praise God, the stage of acceptance does come!  It’s taken about a year of time, prayer, study, and encouragement from friends and family.  But I have come to a healthy acceptance of who I was, who I am now, and who I want to become.  I am not the only person to change careers in mid-life.  I am not the only one that has faced major decisions regarding change.  I am not a failure or worthless.  And neither are you…whatever it is you are facing and whatever stage of grief you may be in.

You may very well be in one of the stages where it seems impossible that things will ever get better or you feel you can’t overcome.  Your feelings are valid.  Hold tight to your faith.  Look for hope in each day.  Stay strong.  Seek counseling if you need to, it can be a big help.  A season of refreshment and renewal is just around the corner after the season of gray and emptiness.

Suggested Reading is a comprehensive and reputable source for all topics related to grief and healing.  There are specific resources for helping children, grief following murder, suicide and other circumstances, along with grief during the holidays or following experiences like break-ups.  There are a wide variety of books available, as well.  It is a source with a lot of information, but in easy-to-understand language.

Today’s Scripture

Today’s Recipe  This week we are focusing on some of the best summer recipes.  Today’s recipe is especially for those who find themselves with an abundance of squash this time of year.  From the time I was a child, on into adulthood, I’ve been blessed with squash a-plenty during the summer months.  I happen to love zucchini and the yellow crookneck summer squash.  I can fix them in a wide range of dishes, from savory to sweet, traditional to a little crazy.  Zucchini-mint jelly, anyone?  Today we have a baked meal using economical chicken leg quarters alongside the best squash of the season.  Throw in some butter, garlic, parmesan, and FRESH basil and we will rock this summer dinner!


Garlic Parmesan Chicken with Summer Vegetables (serves 5-6)

  • 5-6 chicken leg quarters
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 TBS minced garlic
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 medium zucchini squash, cubed
  • 2 medium yellow summer squash, cubed
  • 1 lb baby potatoes
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into chunks
  • 1-2 TBS chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Have two racks prepared in oven.  Set oven to 375 degrees.  Spray 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Rinse chicken leg quarters and pat dry with paper towels.  Salt and pepper as desired.  Melt butter in shallow pan in microwave at 30 second intervals.  Stir garlic into butter.  In separate shallow dish combine bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.  Dip each piece of chicken into garlic butter, then into bread crumb mixture, coating both sides.  Place chicken, skin-side up in prepared pan.  Place on bottom oven rack and bake 60 minutes.

Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  In large bowl place all cut up vegetables, potatoes, and basil.  Add olive oil and toss to coat.  Add the leftover bread crumb mixture to the bowl, continuing to mix until vegetables have a coating.  Dump vegetable mixture onto prepared pan.  Place pan on top rack of oven and bake 30-40 minutes.