Loss and Grief & Hope and Healing

A couple months ago, I mentioned in an Instagram post that I was going to share about grief and loss. It took me awhile to get around to it because there is just so much I have to say about this. I’m going to try to get into it in this post.

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Loss: the fact or process of losing something or someone; the state or feeling of grief when deprived of someone or something of value

Griefkeen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death

Hope: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen

Healing: the process of becoming healthy and whole

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Loss of a Loved One

My grandmother (adoptive) passed away in May (I shared about her here). Grieving her passing and learning to live without her has been very hard for me. My grandma was not just my grandma…she was also my friend. She is one of the people that has known me and loved me the longest–over sixteen years of my life. The reality that I’m not going to see her on this earth again sometimes is crushing…I miss her oh so much. But I know that someday, by God’s grace, I will see my Grandma in heaven someday.

 

 

mother's

 

Adoptee Loss

When a person is adopted, there is a loss of biological family (unless sometimes in an open adoption) and in the case of international adoption, there is a loss of culture. This loss is a bit complicated though, for this loss is often the loss of a person(s) who is/are still alive. Example: I grieve for the loss of my birth family but I do not know that they are not alive. They may very well be alive. But I still grieve that they are not in my life. This loss has also been termed ambiguous loss. One definition of ambiguous loss is when a person is physically absent but psychologically present.

Also, I don’t know why my loss occurred. Was it because I was a girl and my parents wanted a son? Were my parents poor? Did they already have several children? Was I taken from my parents by a family member or the police? I don’t know. And this lack of closure is also what makes this loss ambiguous.

 

 

Ambiguous loss is a loss that occurs without closure or understanding. This kind of loss leaves a person searching for answers, and thus complicates and delays the process of grieving, and often results in unresolved grief.

 

This ambiguous loss that many adoptees have is overlooked by many people. They think that because we adoptees now have a family, that’s all that matters. Family is important, yes. But the gaining of my adoptive family meant a loss of my birth family. And that matters too.

What if someone had told me after my grandma’s passing, “Julie, you still have your grandpa. You shouldn’t be sad that your grandma isn’t in your life any more. Be thankful you still have your grandpa”. Wow, that would be really invalidating. Yes, I am so thankful for my dear grandpa. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to miss my grandma.

But you see, so many people do this to adoptees. I think many of them are well intentioned but they don’t understand what they are saying. Comments like “You’re so lucky/blessed to have been adopted” or “You should be so grateful you have a family” or fill in the blank invalidates the pain of losing our birth families. Yes, I am blessed to have a family and I thank God for the gift of being loved. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss my birth family. You can’t replace a person with a different person. Each person in your life fills a special place in your heart that no one else can fill. And for me, that goes for both my both families…they each have their own place in my heart.

 

Disenfranchised Grief

 

If you ever wonder why most adoptees don’t share about their pain over their loss, here’s why. Reverend Keith C. Griffith said, “Adoption is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful”. Adoptees are expected by the majority of people to be thankful. And if an adoptee is anything but thankful, he/she is usually slapped with the “angry adoptee” label.

Think about it. If you were to speak up about your pain only to be called “angry” time and time again, would you keep speaking up?

Well, thankfully, there are adoptees all over the world who keep sharing their stories, the pros and the cons of being adopted, regardless of what people say and call them. And that takes real courage and bravery.

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Hope and Healing

Grieving the loss of someone who was alive but now is in Heaven.

Grieving the loss of people who I’m related to but not sure if they are alive or not.

 

How do I heal when it seems the pain from these losses will never end?

“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
“He [God] heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Jesus feels our pain when we hurt. He reaches out His nail scarred hands to heal our wounds and to soothe our aching hearts. He doesn’t ask us to forget our pain. He doesn’t ask us to stop hurting. But He does desire to heal us. Whether or not we allow Him to is up to us individuals. We won’t heal any other way except through Him.

I love the words to this song by Mark Shultz. You can find a youtube video of it here.

“He Will Carry Me”

I call, You hear me
I’ve lost it all
And it’s more than I can bear
I feel so empty

You’re strong
I’m weary
I’m holdin’ on
But I feel like givin’ in
But still You’re with me

[chorus:]
And even though I’m walkin’ through
The valley of the shadow
I will hold tight to the hand of Him
Whose love will comfort me
And when all hope is gone
And I’ve been wounded in the battle
He is all the strength that I will
Ever need
And He will carry me

I know I’m broken
But You alone
Can mend this heart of mine
You’re always with me

[chorus]

And even though I feel so lonely
Like I’ve never been before
You never said it would be easy
But You said you’d see me through
The storm

[chorus]

Thank you,Mom!.jpg

 

 

My heart aches for all the adoptees out there whose hearts are weighed down with the pain of their loss and with all the questions and unknowns that may never be answered. But I’m hopeful too because my God heals and I know that He can heal these broken, hurting adoptees. My prayer for them and for me is that we would find and the hope and healing that God offers freely to us…the hope and the healing that will help us in our loss and grief.

 

 

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