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Picking Up the Pieces 

Thinking Out Loud: Picking Up the Pieces 

Grief is a part of life.  There are so many things humans grieve over, some intensely personal like the loss of a long time pet or a stolen family heirloom, and others that are familiar to many such as time to trade in the family car in which you took many family vacations.  None are as profound as the death of a loved one.  The very word “death” indicates a final ending, goodbye, and forever separated.  Until this event has touched your life it is nearly impossible to understand how many places in our lives it affects.

Initially it can be a gaping wound, raw and unbearably painful in our emotions, our soul. Our rock, our confidant, the taproot of our family system is gone.  How will life go on?  If the passage of time is healing, we can be left with a large scar we are always profoundly aware of. Something important has concluded, and we are left with no real idea how to function without him – or her – or even go on in life.  There is no question that we cannot return to what was. We may even feel some guilt when we try to imagine a new tomorrow without this person.

But death is so much more than the raw emotion. The void or blank spaces that are left are as real as the emotional pain.  What are typical blank spaces? Companionship, friendship, loving, caring and sharing a goal lead the list.  Biting at the heels of the first list are final expenses, finances, new decisions you must make alone, living arrangements and old friendships that may feel uncomfortable now.  The list is much longer but these are likely to be the glaring blanks in the beginning. Each of these must be filled in with a new arrangement.  As harsh as it sounds, it is necessary and a part of the stabilizing process. It is the hard part of accepting that you are alive and someone you love is no longer with you.

When the shock wears off, the mundane everyday tasks will confront you.  It is akin to anesthesia wearing off after a really painful surgery.  Getting up and doing what is necessary, no matter how uncomfortable or how much you don’t want to, moves you through the process.

Establishing a new normal is a deeply personal challenge.  No one can determine your new normal but you, who are the most affected. How can you start over? Your new normal is determined by the empty spaces left in the wake of your loss.  Every time you encounter one, make note of it no matter how insignificant it may seem.  Why are you doing this? It is necessary to know where the voids are to begin to fill them. Losing a loved one leaves a void, an empty space. Your new normal is created by how and with what you fill those spaces.

Picking up the pieces may really mean filling in the blank spaces.  When you do you will have created your new normal.  You will feel more stable, stronger, able to face the day, and ready to receive the hope of God’s promise from His word in Isaiah 61 for He gives beauty for ashes, comfort for pain, gladness for sadness in His name.  Ask Him to guide you through the journey of filling in the blank spaces.  He will.  He waits … for you.

John T. Catrett, III

Scissortail Hospice Chaplain

306 North Main Street, Suite E

Bristow, OK 74010


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