A note from Kelly King: Recently I have said goodbye to some ministry friends who have changed their address to heaven. Almost daily, I’m reminded that their absence is still raw and painful—especially to their family members. In today’s article, Kaye Hurta begins a series on loss and grief. Whether you are going through this kind of loss personally or you lead others who are going through this kind of grief, Kaye gives all of us some practical suggestions based out of her personal example.
In three days I have an appointment on my calendar with myself. The purpose? To sit alone quietly and remember my mom. Why? Because in three days it will be the anniversary of my mom’s death. My mom’s name was Joyce Ann, and she died on March 12, 1992 suddenly and unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm. She was 67. I was…younger.
I don’t need an appointment to think about her, but I have learned that in order to move forward in my loss and grief I need to engage in certain practices with intentionality. What will I do during my appointment with myself? I’ll tell you in a minute.
In my role at our church, I spend a good bit of time with people who are grieving. There are as many responses to loss as there are people, and one thing I am asked often is, “Is this normal? Am I normal?” The answer is almost always, “Everything is normal, but not everything is helpful.”
It is common to be surprised by our responses to grief and loss. Some common responses are fear, feeling out of control, and feeling self-conscious. There are spiritual responses along with emotional, mental, relational, and physical responses. All are normal, but not all are helpful.
Here are some self-reflection questions for you to use yourself or with someone who is grieving a loss:
- How have I responded to God in my loss? (e.g., anger or resentment toward God, doubt in His goodness or existence, lost hope, etc)
- How is my loss affecting me emotionally? Mentally? (e.g., can’t think or remember, can’t cry, can’t stop crying, obsessing, getting rid of everything, enshrining everything, feeling hopeless, overwhelmed, helpless, suicidal thoughts, depression)
- How is my loss affecting my relationships? (e.g., extremely others-focused or self-focused, hurt or disappointed by how friends or family react, feeling abandoned, lonely, or betrayed, irritated, isolated, fear being alone)
- How is my body responding to my loss? (e.g., insomnia, hair loss, weight loss or gain, metallic taste in mouth, ulcers, sore muscles)
The next few articles from me will be focused on loss and some tools to help you help others navigate the road ahead. At some point in helping someone face life after loss, the tips you glean will be helpful, but probably not on day one. One of the sweetest gifts you can give a woman hurting from loss is to simply be present and listen.
It has been 26 years since my mom died, so why do I still make an appointment with myself? Because I have learned that grieving the loss of my mom (grieving any loss) isn’t a one-time event. Grief is a process. I make an appointment to “check-in” with myself. I take time for guided self-reflection, to pray through whatever emotions are uncovered, to remember, to laugh, to cry, to wonder what it would be like with her, to be sad for what I missed and grateful for what I had. If you are reading this and you have lost your mom (for whatever reason), I’m so sorry for you loss. There is never an OK time to lose your momma.
Do you need to make an appointment with yourself? I encourage you to do so.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.