Grief, Dealing with the loss of a Friend

Latest posts by Rebekah Phelps (see all)

RIP Kevon Theall

RIP Kevon Theall

Heartbreak is dealing with the loss of a friend, that’s one of the things I said I’d be talking about but I didn’t think I’d be talking about the sudden loss of “a friend” from grade school today. Grief, dealing with the loss of a friend is heartbreaking, nothing you’d want to factor into your day. It’s nothing you expect to happen in the course of the month or plan for during the year.

As I Corn. 15:55 says; “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

Rest in Peace Kevon Theall. My memory goes back to the 8th grade (but I think he came into “our class” in 5th or 6th grade). He was one of the guys that I considered “saving me” — my reputation that is. I laugh now but it wasn’t funny at all then. It was terrifying … “some girl” liked “Steve” and she knew I did….and so she did, and then she began calling me the big S-word (slut). I was no more so than Santa is the Grinch. I’m not sure if Kevon, Mike, James and Steve came around me to find out if that was true (LOL) OR they just “liked me” – but they found out I wasn’t and I realized no more liking my age group. That cured me. I wanted no more part of rumors. It is funny now but I attribute “those guys” to digging me out of a nasty rumor and I always appreciated “them” for that – I don’t even think they recall or ever meant to but I suppose by “association” since they were very “popular” they saved my reputation. That’s my grateful-hero memory of Kevon. So handsome – such a movie star smile, adorable in those cowboy boots and hat and what a great friend he was to so many that remained close with him long after high school. I’m heartbroken for our friends, I feel so sad for his girls, parents and co-workers. I wish he had called someone; I wish I could have talked to him. I’m so glad he knew The Lord and I’m so glad for him of what he accomplished. Rest in Peace Kevon. Shalom.

I’ve said this and I’ll say it now and again and again.

Best money I ever spent on myself was Grief Recovery. I took the course through the Grief Recovery Method (Institute) in 2008. Russell Friedman wrote the books “The Grief Recovery Handbook” – When Children Grieve and several others (on divorce & pet related). That did me more good than any amount of counsel ever did. Pretty intense though. NOTE: Adults must walk through their grief issues and that grief book before attempting to walk a child through it!

If you broke your leg, you wouldn’t stall to go get it set properly. You’d go to ER as soon as you could get there. If you were in a car accident and severed your arm…same thing.

I wish I knew years ago what I know about “Grief Recovery” now. But we learn as we go and “in time” or the “right time” for us.

Don’t “wait” to get your heart “set properly” – don’t wait to “recover” – take action soon after you experience SORROW.

It’d be impossible for me to give you everything I learned in 4 long days but I’d like to go over a few things so “my friends” and you have this.

First, The MYTHS about GRIEF and what most all of us learned.

  1. Time heals all wounds
    1. The TRUTH – Time doesn’t heal anything, action does. If “time” heals everything then what’s the “time” we heal? Isn’t 3 years enough? 20? Does 1 person’s time frame nullify another’s?
  2. Replace the loss
    1. The TRUTH – If “puppy dies” you don’t run out and get another puppy. Puppy #1 can’t REPLACE Puppy #2. EVERY relationship is unique. The TRUTH – You can’t replace that friend, father, mother, favorite Aunt, etc.
  3. Grieve alone – “Go on now, leave your mom alone, she’s hurting” —
    1. The TRUTH – well, what about the child? So are we taught to “go to our rooms” and grieve alone? Cry by ourselves. Why are we taught to retreat and “be alone” – directly or indirectly that message is given often.
  4. Be strong for others
    1. The TRUTH – “Non-Feeling or Expression” doesn’t equal strength. It gives the message feelings aren’t correct or appropriate.
  5. Bury your feelings.
    1. The TRUTH – Feelings are KEY to recovery. Children do this so naturally when allowed. Like they’ll say; “Mr. Goldfish, I loved watching you swim, I hated cleaning out your bowl and I’ll miss you!” They state what they loved, what they didn’t like and close with “goodbye.”
  6. Stay Busy
    1. The TRUTH – working longer hours, taking on another job, constantly going, going, going is just going to wear you out. What you’ll accomplish is exhaustion or illness.

Something else that’s “common” but not accurate is the person who died becomes a hero or a villain. An angelic being or a demon. NO ONE deserves to be on either side of that coin. Even the worst of the worst would have something positive and the best of the best has something negative. This sounds kind of cold or harsh but in the grief recovery course the teacher said; “Even a father who was over the top in disciplining a child at least provided a roof over their head.” OUCH…. I don’t like the way that sounds either but it was the point ALL people can have SOMETHING “above the line.”

A more “healing approach” is to take the time to make a graph. For ANY loss.

MAKE A GRIEF CHART

Example Grief Chart

Example Grief Chart

You can see the one I attached, although not entirely accurate with memories and history (including reunions) I did this to give you an idea but couldn’t do this in word like you can with a good ol’fashion pencil.

Make a straight line across a piece of paper. You will write DATES on this line.

On the LEFT side put the date you met (if it’s a parent, it’s when you were born, if it’s a spouse it’s when you met, if it’s a pet, when did you get the pet …or have the child and so on).

On the RIGHT side put the date of death (or loss – you broke up, you got in a fight, you moved away)

ABOVE the line goes anything POSITIVE you can remember. Anything HAPPY, anything that created JOY

The height of the line is the significance of the POSITIVE memory. Perhaps it’s a pencil head high or off at the top of the chart!

BELOW the line goes anything NEGATIVE – perhaps starting with the impact of the LOSS. Again, the depth of the line indicates the depth of the pain, hurt, tears, anger, disappointment, shock, fear, etc.

Don’t worry about how many lines you have ABOVE the line or BELOW.

Each line UP or DOWN should have a “tiny comment” that YOU know what it means and stem from the DATE(s) on the line across.

NOW for the hard part. But first you need a HEART with EARS person. That means someone to JUST LISTEN.

Listen means listen…no talking. You can nod your head, sounds are good, expressions are fine but LISTEN. If you’re the LISTENER, this isn’t about YOU or anything YOU have been through.

  1. Don’t grieve alone. Saying HOW you FEEL is extremely important NOT just what you remember.
  2. Don’t get so busy you can’t sit down and make a chart. TALK about what you remember and HOW you FEEL.
  3. Don’t run out and think you can just make a new friend, replace a husband, adopt a new pet or latch onto a new best friend. That’s really not “fair to them” anyway (the NEW person). They aren’t them and can’t be replaced or substituted even if it’s a “father figure.” You might eventually have someone you look up to “as a dad” etc. but they aren’t THAT person. They can’t be.
  4. Don’t try and “be strong” for anyone – this is YOUR time of GRIEF. If you want to cry, cry. If you need to be mad…be mad. Just don’t be scared of your own feelings. They won’t last forever, but you need to “empty the jug.”
  5. Don’t wait for TIME to heal anything, action does. If your tire went flat, you wouldn’t pull up a stool and sit and wait for the tire to be inflated or changed. TIME does nothing, action does! What you do in that time counts.

Lastly,

Please don’t tell people “you understand” THEIR LOSS – because you don’t. You can’t. ALL relationships are unique. The reason I say that is just because let’s say “you both lost a dad” – one person could have a wonderful father with fond memories and who was faithful to the core. The other person could have been molested and lived watching their mother get beaten.

One person’s heartbreak could actually be relief and the others devastation. Even within a family. Everyone will respond differently based on what they worked through BEFORE A DEATH happened, where they were in that relationship, what conversations they had prior to the loss, how verbal or non-verbal the relationship was, etc. Some people will openly grieve and others will naturally “retreat” if you will because they have more peace about it OR because that’s what they’ve been taught. Some people have come to grips with a loss (prior – like aging or ill parents) and others feel bludgeoned! EVERY relationship is UNIQUE.

I hope you or someone you know finds this helpful and if you ever need a heart with ears, let me know.

If this only helps 1 person, I’ll be immensely grateful to have gone through enough heartache myself and taken the course “to help” others move through it as well.

Take the time to cry, it washes your heart,

Rebekah Lea Phelps

PS: I’d be happy to speak about the topic of GRIEF

PSS: I’d appreciate your liking my Author FB Page

 

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