THE VALUE OF SERVICE TO OTHERS
By TRACY RENEE LEE
Grief recovery does not usually come to us within a twinkling of an eye. If you are one of the lucky few who can survive loss without sadness, regret, fear, or adjustments, I wish I were you. Sadly, for me, a loss is significant. No matter how hard I try or how easy I think it will be, grief remains a wild beast requiring an application of skill, will, and recovery techniques.
As a mortician and Certified Grief Counselor, I work with and experience death every day. Because it is my work, I look at it differently and understand it differently than most people. Those facts, however, do not shield me from the pain of loss when the decedent is special to me. My heart aches, and my professional reasoning seems to abandon me. My life becomes filled with a preoccupation with my loss, and tears flow without provocation. Recovery becomes my focus.
The sentinels of my STP Grief Recovery Formula are the first suggestion, service, and the last suggestion, prayer. These two strategies are the most powerful advantages you will ever experience in your recovery journey. Today, I want to focus on the sentinel of service. Next week, I will focus on prayer.
If you are a Christian, you will recognize this reference. If you are not, it is still an excellent code by which to live. During Christ’s mission upon the earth, he issued two new commandments. “… Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40.
In today’s article, I will focus on the second commandment within this reference; “To love thy neighbor as thyself.” This commandment is fulfilled or expressed through service. Service to others is reciprocated through increased love, growth in self-worth and confidence, and improved mental and physical health. If you’ve never reached out to help someone in need, do yourself a favor, find someone, and help them today. Your life will immediately improve, and service will become a joyful and integral part of who you are.
When I was a young woman, my mother would enlist my siblings and me in service projects regularly. Back then, I may not have realized the value and joy of rendering service as much as I should have. I loved visiting my great aunts and uncles, elderly neighbors, and hospitalized friends; however, doing their dishes, laundry, and yard work were not my preferred activities. There were many times I would daydream about being out with my friends, doing anything other than someone else’s chores. My mother, the Cajun woman that she was, would not budge from her conviction that children should engage in service to others. Now that I am an adult, I agree.
As a child, all I could see was that I was missing out on fun with my friends. As an adult, I understand the values that service taught me and the love it developed in my heart for others. I met so many wonderful people, and I was the recipient of their love and gratitude.
During those times of labor, others taught me priceless lessons about life. Through their instructions and stories, my focus was redirected from being a selfish teenager, wallowing in my teenage woes, to exciting and heart-wrenching tales of lives harder than mine.
I learned about “Shell Shock” before it was called PTSD. I saw the pain and heard the fears of widowhood when women depended on husbands for support and social standing. I learned the correct way to harvest carrots from under a blanket of snow; to this day, those stories and experiences remain with me. I appreciate those lessons of sacrifice, character, and love, which my mother insisted I learn, even when I argued that my life was passing me by. She understood (when I didn’t) that I was gaining virtues, not losing fun time with my friends.
Service taught me so much and made me a better and stronger person. As I have grown older, I have relied on service many times, both giving and receiving. Service continues to redirect my focus away from my sorrows and problems and helps me realize that my life isn’t so bad after all. It helps me love others and keeps me socially and physically active. Service is a blessing in my life.
When I lost my two grandsons, my mother, aunt, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, dear friends, and family schnauzer, service played a significant role in my recovery. My service to others kept the demons of insecurity, pain, fear, self-pity, and anguish at bay. That is not to say that pain wasn’t present because it was. Service, however, was a tremendous distraction that took my focus off of my anguish and put it on others who appreciated me and reciprocated the love I had lost. This increased love from others helped to fill the void imposed by loss and quickened my recovery and joy.
As you review and implement my STP Oil Recovery Formula, please remember that service is one of the most robust grief recovery strategies available. You might also remember that it complements and fulfills the second greatest commandment given through our Lord and Savior. I fervently testify to this truth, as I have successfully utilized service for grief recovery myself. The truth is that service is a virtue of sacrifice. It is akin to the sacrifice that Christ made for us. He served us, and in our boastful naivety, He has commanded us to love one another because without love…all (including our souls)is lost.
My humble prayer is that God will bless each of us as we strive to overcome the ravages associated with loss; and that as you employ service to others, you will realize that service is a virtue laced with love.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a Certified Grief Counselor (GC-C), Funeral Director (FDIC), published author, syndicated columnist, Podcaster, and founder of the “Mikey Joe Children’s Memorial” and Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, Podcasts, and Grief BRIEFs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.
It is my life’s work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, please visit my podcast “Deadline” on Spotify and follow me on Instagram at “Deadline_TracyLee.”