There have been appeals for him to be in our thoughts and prayers to preserve his life and recovery. And many of us are praying. However, I dare to say, his troubles emanated from events that occurred prior to his current tragedy. His inability to effectively deal with the death and loss of loved ones, including losing his Mom to colon cancer at twelve, seems to be the core ill for his psychological and spiritual health.
“Death always seems to be around me, I’ve been burying people for a long time.” Lamar Odom
A lot of us may feel this way, but it is important to have strong support systems in place when experiencing loss or multiple losses of loved ones. Some of us even struggle with the day to day reality of mortality.
Some use drugs as an escape to the void of nothingness: albeit it a temporary and dire escape from feeling pain. When we have not experienced or seek the peace of God, as believers or the non-confessed, the paths we chose for comfort can inevitably lead to escalated despair. Lamar Odom received notoriety because of his celebrity, but like many of us, he seemed to suffer in isolation and anguish that could have been prevented.
No one has a plan set in stone for overcoming grief. However, understanding the stages of grief can help us navigate the journey for the process of healing. According to authors Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler, the five most common categories for these stages are:
1. Denial – a coping mechanism to reject all we must face when we lose someone, especially those who were close to us or an integral part of our lives. We are in a state of shock merely trying to get from one day to the next.
2. Anger – when we emerge from the numbness and began to feel again, we often choose to experience anger. It seems a bit more manageable than coming to terms with the hurt you are undoubtedly experiencing. Blame placing emerges during this stage and dissipates as you enter the next.
3. Bargaining – post loss is primarily associated with often miss-placed guilt. We further burden ourselves with thoughts of “what if” and “If I only had…” Somehow we think our actions could have prevented these inevitable events from occurring.
4. Depression – refusing to be ignored any longer, the realness of what has transpired surfaces. Along with it comes sorrow, regret and sadness that seems to last an indeterminate amount of time. Without the help of God and His overshadowing, rescuing love, we can get stuck here for what seems like forever.
5. Acceptance – is not that you are good with grief or the grief becomes good. It is the acceptance that your life will go on without this person or persons as a part of your life. Going on without them is now your accepted reality.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy (Psalm 126:5).
This seems like an impossible truth. As believers, we do not have to sorrow as the world (those who feel hopeless and abandoned) sorrows but, sometimes we do. You may not turn to drugs or alcohol abuse but maybe you escape from the pain of reality in other ways like: over-indulging, distancing yourself from relationships or working excessively to the point of exhaustion.
Seek spiritual counsel and grief counselling even if you think you are okay. You may be able to provide support for someone else who is stuck. Whether you are sympathetic or empathetic you can offer comfort of the best sort: your presence and wise words of encouragement. Grief can be a good step toward healing.
As you navigate through your process and help others, you can be an example of honoring your loved ones the same as you honor God: by the way you live your life after you’ve known them.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14