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In recent years, weighted blankets have become a thing. I had my first encounter with one over the holidays when visiting family members. While reclining in a chair, my sister-in-law laid the blanket on me like a mantle and I claimed it for the rest of my stay there. According to Healthline.com, there are benefits to using these blankets, such as relieving chronic stress and improving sleeping. However,there are also noted risks such as difficulty breathing and claustrophobia.

Grief as a weighted blanket

Grief has been around since the beginning of time and in some ways, it is like a weighted blanket. It too can take your breath away and be claustrophobic. I cannot imagine any of us voluntarily crawling under this blanket to find safety, comfort and healing. Yet, like it or not, at different points in our lives, we all experience loss and find ourselves involuntarily wrapped up in a blanket of grief.

Grief at different levels

Three months ago, on January 26th, grief settled like a weighted blanket over my heart along with a multitude of others at the news of the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianni; John and Keri Altobelli and their teenage daughter Alyssa; Sarah Chester and her 13-year-old daughter Payton; Christina Mauser, an assistant coach; and pilot Ara Zobayan. Gaping holes of an immeasurable size bored into the hearts of the families impacted by the tragedy. Broken, bewildered and wondering how they will carry on in the absence of their loved ones. Gaping holes of lesser and yet impactful sizes left in the hearts of those of us who were touched in some way by these people. All experienced grief at different levels and to varying degrees. The majority of people felt a loss at some magnitude, whether it had been grieving for the loss of these people themselves, or grieving the hurt and pain their loved ones must have felt.

So how do we respond?

My reaction, like countless others I am sure, was one of disbelief. “It can’t be true.” “It is so surreal.” These words of denial echoed in my head when I heard the news about the crash just hours after it happened. In the following days I found myself repeatedly saying, “LORD turn back the clock…let it not be so” as I looked at pictures of those lost in the crash and thought about their families. As new stories surfaced about the flight and the pilot’s expertise, I imagined those people who might be struggling with anger and looking for a reason and perhaps someone to blame in their struggle to cope with the loss.

Grief has layers

Then there are those who were plunged to the depths of darkness and despair, depressed and struggling to gain footing. Acceptance is not a place easily found by anyone in the midst of shock of loss. Denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance represent what has become known as the five stages of grief identified by psychiatrist, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. At different times, prayerfully, all will cross the line of acceptance. However, not without being jostled back and forth between these various stages, in no certain order and when least expected. Like an onion, grief has layers and it brings most of us to tears with no warning.

When we encounter grief and loss, healing can seem so far out of reach and at times impossible. However, being aware of where we are in the stages of grief and recognizing that what we are experiencing is a part of the grief process will be helpful in recovering from loss. From this place of understanding we can emerge from underneath the weight of grief. We can find hope and healing as we cherish the memories of those lost and allow God to enter into our pain. He will bring true peace and comfort to our hearts and help us balance the impact of loss and tragedy with perspective.

If you or someone you know are struggling with the process of grief, don’t hesitate to reach out. Call us today at Optimum Joy to have someone walk with you in your time of grieving.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” Psalm 34:18

Written by therapist Roslyn Jordan

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