Grief can be like an unwelcome companion who always has the key to the back door.
Sometimes, grief sits at the table with us, or on the couch, and even lies in bed as we reach for our loved one who is not there. To be human is to love and therefore grieve. Grief has many faces and shows up in unexpected places. It is not always a matter of tears. For some people, grief is a low-hanging dark cloud that won’t go away—even when blue skies are in abundance. Grief can be an unrelenting sense that life is over. For others, grief is anger, deep in the soul like an active rumbling volcano, anticipating the eruption of red hot lava covering all of life. For others, grief is deep regret, incapacitating fear, and a struggle with God.
My friend Larry Barber knows the unwelcome friend of grief who always has a key to the back door. The car accident that took his wife, Cindy and daughter, Katie, changed his life forever. What did not change is the focus of this book, love never dies. The subtitle, embracing grief with hope and promise is now his life song and ministry. It was not something he planned to do, rather, the result of his own grief journey punctuated by faith, hope, love and real doubt, loneliness, mystery and for many years now, a calling to help others.
Recently, I sat in the pew after a church service with a man whose wife died three years ago from a long, painful disease. His grief began long before she passed. He confessed, “I go to the cemetery every day—sometimes just to drive by and other times, to talk and reflect on memories.” He asked, “Is it wrong for me to do this? Is it a lack of faith? She is the one who brought me to Jesus!” I was thinking as he shared. Larry Barber knows his struggle. His unending love. His journey through the dark wilderness of loss and loneliness. I promised him I would give him the gift of this book.
Everyone grieves, but not everyone grieves the same. The Swiss Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross gave us the work, On Death and Dying (1969) where she identified five stages of grief—shock, anger, denial, bargaining and acceptance. Her model has been helpful but I am quite confident she never intended it to be the last word on death and dying. Like all models, it cannot fully capture the complexities of being human. When over-simplified and applied indiscriminately it is like a clanging cymbal in the ears of the grieving—without love.
An emphasis on stages can lead to a belief that every grief is a predictable process that can be navigated in a logical cookie cutter method divorced from the truth that grief is the continuing love mourners have in their hearts for a person no longer physically present. There is mystery to grief and no amount of rational thought can solve the mystery. It can, however, be accepted in great humility and dependence on God who knows what it is like to grieve with and for humanity. After all, Jesus Christ, the son of God, wept (John 11.35).
Whatever your struggle with grief as an unwelcome friend who has the key to your back door, Larry Barber understands. He has two ears and one mouth for helping you grieve well and filter all the well meaning statements from people that aren’t very helpful. Now, you have a book not just from someone who has credentials and training, but has the best credentials of all—a lived experienced as a man of faith with every pore of his being saying to you—LOVE NEVER DIES!
You can embrace your grief with hope and promise. You can openly continue to love and grieve your dear loved one without guilt, regret or shame. Larry did! I am glad he is my friend.
Grady D. King, D. Min
V.P. & Co-Leader, HOPE Network
A Review submitted to and posted by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise” available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Christianbook.com.
The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” on Amazon.com.
Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX http://grief-works.org.
FOR INFORMATION ON SCHEDULING COUNSELING SERVICES WITH LARRY BARBER Click here.