Offering Hope and Encouragement in the Midst of Sorrow

 The information offered is in no way to be used as a substitute for seeking help from your healthcare provider. If you are having feelings of depression, anxiety or desperation please seek help from a health care provider immediately.

 Do you wonder if the things you are feeling are normal?

The young widow lying in the silence of the night heard a key slip into the lock on her front door. The dead bolt snapped and the door creaked as it opened. The sound of footsteps coming down the hall was unmistakable. She was accustomed to the resonance of the steel-toed boots carrying a tired body towards the bedroom. As the door of her bedroom opened the widow bolted up in her bed. She squinted in the darkness searching for the familiar face. It was not there. She reached to turn on the bedside lamp. The air in the room seemed stagnant as she realized she was alone. The deadbolt remained securely locked. No one had entered through the door, yet in her mind the sights, the sounds, the smells were there, as vivid as if they were real.

 Seeking a reprieve from the grief that dominated his life for the past few months, a young widower and his son found solace camping near a quiet stream. In the wee hours of the morning the young widower awoke to the sweet sound of his wife breathing in bed next to him. Instinctively he reached out for her. The empty space that met his longing arms oriented him to his surroundings. He was sure he had heard her. The cruel prank his mind played on him was agonizing as the reality of his loss impacted him once again.

 A young boy sat at his desk, eyes intently looking at the math problems in front of him. The clock on the wall read one hour later than when his mom had last checked on his work, yet the page sat mostly void of answers. He appeared to be focused on the work that lay on his desk, but the thoughts that lurked inside his mind had nothing to do with math. A slow motion film was playing across a wide screen somewhere in the tablets of his memory. The same segment of film played over and over engraving itself into his thoughts, so as not to be forgotten. As the film began to roll he could feel himself sitting behind the driver’s seat in his mom’s minivan. He remembered the level of excitement quickly escalating as the van neared the exit to the amusement park. He could almost hear the sounds of the laughter ringing in his ears. Then suddenly the film abruptly stopped and the picture changed. The sound of laughter turned to screams of terror and the sound of crushing metal. The last picture that flashes across the screen blinds him with flashing lights. Instinctively he put his hands over his ears hoping not to relieve the shrill squeal of the ambulance siren. The young boy wondered why he could not remember doing the last math problem.



           Do these stories remind you of feelings

                              you have had?

The Bible has a great deal to tell us about those who suffer and those who mourn. When we read the Psalms we are given a glimpse into the emotional struggles David went through. In the New Testament Jesus himself gives us examples of those who suffer the pain of loss. As believers in a concrete God, living in a world filled with mystics claiming knowledge from beyond death, how do we deal with experiences that bring these uninvited records of our loss to our minds?

Educating ourselves about the impact loss has on our emotions is of value if we use the information to help us build Godly responses in the midst of the grieving process. During the Vietnam War people began to use the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to explain why some soldiers had emotional difficulties when they returned home from the battlefront. The terms ‘combat fatigue’ and ‘shell shock’ were coined to try to explain why the soldiers had nightmares during the night and were not able to concentrate during the day. ‘Flashback’ became a common term for the films that replayed in the veterans’ minds. For many years people believed that only soldiers or other people who had experienced the effects of war could get PTSD. But based on new research, doctors and other healthcare professionals are learning that people from different economic, social, and educational backgrounds have traumatic experiences that can, and sometimes do, lead to PTSD, or PTSD-type symptoms. Most widows-widowers or their children will not be diagnosed with PTSD. Our purpose for exposing you to information regarding PTSD is to help you understand that when you are experiencing the type of loss widows-widowers go through, the stress to your body and mind can cause PTSD-type symptoms. The intensity with which these type of symptoms is felt depends on several factors. It is important to realize that there is not one ‘standard’ pattern of reaction to the loss of a spouse. Some have adverse effects for a long period of time, while others recover rather quickly.