Twelve years ago, my 17 year old daughter was killed in an automobile accident. She was the first person who I really loved that I lost. Since then, both my parents have passed away. It is going to happen. A parents, close friend, child, or spouse dies and we find ourselves in a personal place we have never entered before. For me, it felt like a huge hole that just penetrated me and I was left grasping for emotional air. Our grief is often felt from the inside out.
As men, I believe we tend to be very hard on ourselves when we go through the grieving process. We often have unrealistic expectations of how “well” we should be doing as we try to recover. I kept telling myself, “I should be over this stage by now.” Our culture encourages us to “be strong”, “man up”, and “don’t show weakness”.
In reality, when we are faced with the loss of someone we really care about, we need to slow down, be honest about our feelings and embrace the grief. Don’t stuff it down deep so it won’t surface. Embrace it and let your feelings and emotions flow. By stuffing it down, we only suspend the grieving process temporarily. We don’t shorten it, we distort it.
The people that we really love and are close to are special. And there are usually not many of them. Their loss has a significant impact on our lives. To not allow ourselves to fully release the emotions that their loss brings to the surface is to diminish the reality of our loss. And, in a way, it diminishes the importance to you of the one you lost.
So, my advice is to fully embrace your grief! Work through it openly and honestly. Let it take the natural course that God intended. After all, it was God who created you with the capacity to love and to care for others in a deeply personal way. And He created you to deeply care when they are gone.
Coach Clay Dewees