Blessing for Those Who Mourn: Denial

A weekly blessing with prayer and self care tips. #griefwithoutgroups



Weekly Blessing for Those Who Mourn

Welcome:[1]-

We gather here in your presence God, in our need and bringing with us the needs of the world.

We come to you, for you come to us in Jesus, and you know by experience what human life is like.

We come with our faith and with our doubts; we come with our hopes and with our fears.

We come as we are, because you invite us to come; and you have promised never to turn us away.

[words of welcome - invitation to take a few breaths]

[1] From the Service of Prayer for Healing, Iona Abbey Worship Book, 90.


Reading of the Week: How Do I Love Thee? Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for right. I love thee purely, as they turn from praise. I love thee with the passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.

Self Care Ritual: Denial

Definition- Denial[1]

Denial is the stage that can initially help you survive the loss. You might think life makes no sense, has no meaning, and is too overwhelming. You start to deny the news and, in effect, go numb. It’s common in this stage to wonder how life will go on in this different state – you are in a state of shock because life as you once knew it, has changed in an instant. If you were diagnosed with a deadly disease, you might believe the news is incorrect – a mistake must have occurred somewhere in the lab–they mixed up your blood work with someone else. If you receive news on the death of a loved one, perhaps you cling to a false hope that they identified the wrong person. In the denial stage, you are not living in ‘actual reality,’ rather, you are living in a ‘preferable’ reality. Interestingly, it is denial and shock that help you cope and survive the grief event. Denial aids in pacing your feelings of grief. Instead of becoming completely overwhelmed with grief, we deny it, do not accept it, and stagger its full impact on us at one time. Think of it as your body’s natural defense mechanism saying “hey, there’s only so much I can handle at once.” Once the denial and shock starts to fade, the start of the healing process begins. At this point, those feelings that you were once suppressing are coming to the surface.



Reflection:

Take a second to think about some ways that you have personally experienced denial during this pandemic or since the death of those you are actively grieving today. Pause

Take a second to think about some of the ways groups (family, congregations, our country) show signs of denial during this pandemic or after the death. . Pause

Denial is normal – though it’s not always safe.

Denial is a sign that people are emotionally overwhelmed and they need a break – but it can cause additional emotional problems if people get stuck in this space or stuck in their grief.

Denial is a sign that people need care and compassion – but like most things, when you are trying to heal, all things should be done in moderation. In the short term it may decrease the intensity of feelings, but in the long term it will cause those feelings to be intense for a longer period of time.

What to do and When to do it: [2]

Denial is a problem if it is used deliberately to avoid the reality of death or to escape the emotions resulting from a loss (which can manifest themselves as insomnia, fatigue, anxiety or chronic depression). You may be avoiding reality to one extent or another if you:

  • Continue to speak of your lost loved one in the present tense.

  • Refuse to believe your loved one has died.

  • Pretend the deceased is away on a trip.

  • Leave clothes and other personal articles exactly as they were for months after the death, and get very upset if anyone moves them.

  • Dispose of anything and everything that serves as a reminder of the deceased.

  • Neither talk of the deceased nor speak your loved one’s name.

  • Downplay your relationship with the deceased.

  • Stay so busy with work or travel that you are running away from your grief.

  • Resort to chemicals (drugs, alcohol, nicotine) to block out the pain of loss.

Suggestions for Coping with Denial

  • Understand that denial serves a normal function, especially in the beginning. It is your mind’s way of protecting you from more pain. Besides, your brain doesn’t “get it” because it is loaded with memories of your loved one. Although the person has died, the one you love continues to exist in your memory and in the memory of others.

  • Denial must be dissolved eventually, but there’s no specific time frame. It becomes a concern only if it interferes with your ability to function normally.

  • Don’t pretend that things are all right when they are not. Be honest with yourself and others. Distractions may keep you occupied but don’t help you move toward resolution.

  • Take a hard look at what is gone and what remains. Take stock, count, recite and recount what’s been lost.

  • Face the fact of the death squarely. Name it, spell it out and talk it out. Replace delicate words and phrases such as passed on and passed away with more truthful terms like died, dead and widowed.

  • Let others (especially children) see your tears and participate in your sorrow; it lets them know how much you care and assures them it’s all right to feel sadness when you lose someone you love.

1) If you are overwhelmed by the news – set boundaries for how much you will read or watch the news.

2) Use the word dead when talking about the person who died. Euphemisms may seem kind, but they can actually make it difficult for people grieve.

3) Practice telling others when you are overwhelmed. Someone starts talking politics, feelings, etc. “I need a break.” “Can we change the subject for a bit?” Chances are that they are overwhelmed too.

4) Consider using affirmations or mantras. Remind yourself that you are alive. Remind yourself that you are strong. Remind yourself that you can get through this.

[1] https://www.psycom.net/depression.central.grief.html [2] https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2013/06/tips-for-coping-with-disbelief-and.html

Prayer

[as she would like]

Blessing

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Live forgiven, ᶧ claim your wholeness and go in peace.


©2019 by the Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer