Get Over It or Get Through It?

Listen to this obituary

Grief is complicated and can be made harder by the grieving event’s unique circumstances. Let’s talk about the particulars of that and I refer you to The Grief Recovery Handbook by John James & Russell Friedman. 

Thankfully, I’ve only had to do a handful of death notifications. They are unpleasant for all concerned and made me feel totally inadequate. But reality is what must be faced! If there has been an accident or a stillbirth — 100% of the time, I believe it helps to have the grievers view the body. If it is a lingering decline, grievers are usually “called in” as the time to say goodbye draws near. 

When my wife died in 2006, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders as the kids and I decided to turn off the artificial life support. I thought we would have hours to say goodbye, but we really only had about 10 minutes. I do remember and value that time we did have.

It was healing to have members of my physical family and church family and friends as a family with me, as I look back on the losses I have experienced. I wouldn’t have done nearly as well if I faced it alone. So, when a death occurs in your family system — just show up and shut up! No one is going to remember your amazing words, but they will remember that you were there!

Getting OVER a significant loss is practically impossible but getting THROUGH a significant loss is eventually doable! I like to show up and make sure I say in a loving and believable tone, “WE will get through this!” And I would add that you and I should never let anyone create time frames and clearly defined stages for us! I have some idea of the usual time frame and stages of recovery, but every relationship is different, and every loss of a relationship is different.

It is not desirable or possible to forget your deceased family member or friend. We shouldn’t even try to do that. We just owe it to our beloved ones to continue to take steps in the general direction of becoming once again complete.

The first steps to grief recovery can begin almost immediately. All the steps cannot be accomplished at the same time like items checked off a list.

James and Friedman ask us in their book:

1. If you fell down and gashed your leg and blood was pouring out, would you immediately seek medical attention? The obvious answer is yes.

2. If circumstances and events conspired to break your heart, would you seek attention immediately, or would you allow yourself to bleed to death emotionally? Pick one!

Friends, it is never too soon to begin to address your grief. Rally your support system to be there with you as you face the realities of loss. Not IF, but WHEN your next loss occurs, will you try to get OVER IT or try to get THROUGH IT?

I know what I will do! 

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Doug Greenway

These blog articles are written by the retired minister and former educator and counselor, Doug Greenway. He'd love to hear from you with your comments, questions, or suggestions for future topics. You may reach Doug at

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