When I was a young man, I would anxiously await the big rivalry football game scheduled for the third Saturday of November.

With heightened anticipation, I would count down the hours before kickoff. I would tune out the world, and for three hours, I would scream and shout over every touchdown, fumble or interception. When my team won, there was exhilaration. When they lost, I was in the depths of dispair.

Yes, the sting of defeat would plunge me into depression for a couple days. The jeering from my friends would agitate me for a couple days, but I moved on. My sights would soon be turned to the next season. Hope was reborn. Optimism for revenge was the new focus. After all, it was just a game.

Most of life’s heartbreaks are not so easily overcome. Indeed, life is much more than a football game.

The sudden impact of loss is experienced daily across our turbulant world. The unexpected acts of God, accidents of every sort, random acts of violence, unforeseen medical emergencies, and death confront unsuspecting souls.

There are also circumstances where the heartache of loss has come at its appointed time in the death of an aged love one, the terminally ill, or in the finality of a divorce or bankruptcy. The sands of time had expired ... forboding.

The human experience faces seasons of grief ... those times where we mourn the loss of someone significant, the tears from a broken heart, the heartbreak of loss and seperation ... reality, finality, emptiness, uncertainty, being lost and alone, depression.

There are numerous resources available for grieving souls. Pastoral counseling, hospice care and/or berevement support groups are all highly recommended and encouraged.

As a professional caregiver, I have benefitted from clinical, theological, and pastoral training. The dynamics of grief are complicated, varying from individual to individual. There is no singular formula or perscription that can be written.

As I have knelt down beside the mourning, I have encouraged the mourner to process the grief in the interest of their personal, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Each component of their being has its own priorities, none of which should be overlooked.

There are no shortcuts in grieving. It is a protracted process.

Unfortunately, there are people who want to move forward immediately without the benefit of time off work, pastoral care or bereavement support. While this approach will distract an individual from the current pain of loss, inevitably, the consequences of neglected bereavement negatively surface.

It must be emphasized that doing the work of grief today is the surest means of total wellness for tomorrow.

As I write this week’s column, my family is grieving the loss of my son. I am grateful for the decades of professional experience. Yet, I must also confront the work of the bereavement process.

Indeed, it will be a protracted process. Knowledge does not mend a broken heart. However, it does provide a blueprint of a successful way forward through the darkness now experienced. Indeed, we all need a blueprint.

Through the valleys, we all sojourn. May we wisely navigate the pitfalls. Thankfully, God is there to sustain and support us to the very end.

Have a great week, and remember, God loves you.

Contact Jon by emailing IMPACThought@gmail.com. Reach Jon Shonebarger at jtshonebarger@gmail.com.

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