One quote from a book, whose author and title I failed to note, reads, “There’s no use damming up sorrow,” he said. “The river of grief has its own course and its own pace. Tears are a gift from God. Sorrow can grieve over a loss and still be grateful for the time you had.”

I attended a funeral this week for a man who died at age 101. He was a man of wealth and a noted philanthropist. He caught Covid and could not fight it off.

I also spoke with a friend who has been diagnosed with a rare disease. There is no cure and her future is uncertain in regards to pain, suffering, side effects from strong medications, etc. We’re both reading “Celebrate Life: New Attitudes for Living with Chronic Illness.” We are on the chapters about grief as it arises with the diagnosis of chronic illness, and how to navigate through that grief.

The man who died had buried his wife after 66 years of marriage. My friend and I have both been married for 51 years. He knew grief. He also knew success.

My friend and I have both born and raised two children. All four are lively adults. We have known success. He and his wife bore four boys. All of them spoke at the funeral.

I wish he was here so I could ask him how he managed the rapids of aging and decline. He was a strong Christian. Was he able to lean upon the Lord during his dark times? I understand he exercised every single day until the last two weeks of his life. Had a personal trainer come to his house. I am far, far behind on that front!

Guess I best get up and get moving for a longer life and the best health I can obtain. Along with my friend I take many medications daily. Bob calls it “Better living through modern chemistry.” Indeed, I have outlived both of my parents.

Years ago Bob and I worked at The Children’s Home in Hamilton, Ohio. We were told to read Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s on entitled On Death and Dying. The children we worked with often went through these stages not only regarding their family of origin, but also the workers who came in and out of their lives. Kubler-Ross outlined five stages of grief. Some therapists have added a few more, but the basic five are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The stages do not necessarily occur in that order. You do not necessarily experience the stages only once. The stages also apply to chronic illness patients.

We all know that none of us will get out of here alive, unless the Lord returns before our life ends. We will leave behind people who admire and love us. We will be left behind by others who die. Have we even thought about how to navigate that? Nope, I think most people live in a high state of denial, not even thinking about it until there is no choice.

Research shows that damming up sorrow is very bad for one’s health both physically and mentally. For a person with chronic illness damming up the sorrow can make the symptoms worse! “The river of grief has its own course.” Have you ever considered that tears can be a cleansing part of the river of grief? When was the last time you just let go and had a good cry? It can work wonders for all parts of you.

The river has its own course.

We change, we age, we diminish in our capacity to do the things we used to do. Can you be grateful for the strengths you have had, even if you must let them go? Can you rejoice in the goodness of living, even this day which is so unlike your days were years ago?

Sorrow, grief, loss and gratitude can exist side by side. Don’t try to dam them up. Be grateful for the life you have had thus far and look forward to the life you are still living.

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