Hope for the Journey
Traumatic life events take us on a long journey into a new dimension of growth and maturity. We know we can embrace the grief that comes with this journey because of the words of Christ, echoing to us from the Galilean hillside: "Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted" (Matthew 5:4, TNIV). While it is not always obvious where we are in the grieving process, many researchers and authors have attempted to help us understand it. Initially, as we engage the reality of a trauma, many feel a range of emotions from anger to numbness. Our responses may vary from weeping to withdrawal. The good news is that God, having created us, knows us completely. He fully understands our feelings and respects them. Certainly Jesus modeled this as He confronted the anger and anguish of His good friend, Martha, when her brother, Lazarus, died (John 11:21).
Because trauma forces us into a new situation, former coping strategies may be inadequate. For the Ferlaaks, being excellent parents to a healthy and happy family was lost and a new perspective was needed to deal with new challenges. This may seem overwhelming. Letting go of dreams, habits, and hopes can be crushing. It is in this part of the journey that friends and family play a critical support role, providing consistency in a time when our world is shaken. Familiar scripture is also of great comfort, reminding us of God's faithfulness and unchanging promises.
Families in grief also need to develop a new framework that adjusts to the traumatic event and allows it to exist within their lives. The Ferlaaks embraced a framework that utilized forgiveness but did not neglect accountability. Forgiveness frees the grieving person to deal with difficult issues, while faith actively builds the new construct and provides strength to implement it.
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