CLINTON — This holiday may be someone’s first without a family member, or maybe it’s one of repetition, but an alteration has taken place.
The holidays, however celebrated, can be rough in terms of grieving what has changed when compared with years past.
Grief is not just that of a death, but of a void, a change created and human need looking for a replacement. Generally, the result is pain for those handling their voids while going through the healing process.
“Everyone grieves differently,” said Jon Yarian, coordinator with Genesis Grief Support, “but in general, the grief that is there is the pain of living with unmet needs. Those may be physical, mental, spiritually, emotional needs. They're needs that used to be met by my loved one, but my loved one isn’t here meeting those needs anymore.”
“It doesn’t just hit you like a headache and go away,” he added.
Yarian went on to explain the first times. The first-time experiences following an event of person to mourn can be intense.
Those feelings, albeit sometimes undesirable, are completely normal and serve a purpose.
“Pain tells you that there is something that you need to address,” Yarian said.
Sometimes that is entering a community, or to stop withholding oneself from that love.
“We are not self-sufficient in any sense,” said Paul Holmer, former pastor of Clinton's Immanuel Lutheran Church. “We may like to tell ourselves that, but we need others. Community is important, and to identify that and draw from others and to give to others to make those relationships possible.”
The pastor said to drop the shoulds: One does not have to do anything but grieve in their own way so long as it’s healthy.
"There is no to-do list to complete grieving,” according to Yarian.
People may feel pressure to be put together; they maybe are in a position that doesn’t appear to lend itself to vulnerability. In his community, the church, Holmer has put himself in a position where he doesn’t feel that weight to refrain from acting on his emotions.
“I think there’s some of that expectation to be that strong person there, but also there are times to cry with people,” Holmer said. “I’ve had funerals where I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the end of the sermon. Sometimes I just barely made it and I had to gather my composure again. Because those are relationships that are now gone, but I think people also understand that.”
“Their pastor is human,” he said.
Four parts of grief practiced at Genesis follow acceptance, adjustment, relationships and inner peace. People, according to Yarian, must work at their own pace and come to resolve naturally; create lasting relationships with the departed; have some understanding that love doesn’t need to end; be tender to oneself and process the new environment; and become aware of the needs that need to be met in life.
For those not going through pain at the moment, but know someone who is, Yarian suggests inviting them around, letting them know that they are thought about and loved. Grief is not a bad thing. It’s a journey that most go through to heal and find new ways to fill a need.
“There is a lot of caring there, and sometimes we don’t know about it until those kinds of things happen,” Holmer said.