I don’t propose to be an authority on grief, but I have suffered a lot of loss—including my brother in 2000, my sister in 2001, my husband in 2003, my daughter in 2006, and my mom in 2014, and I just lost my niece in 2017. Up until then, the biggest loss I’d had was my grandparents and then my dad in 1976. I found I was ill prepared for the losses of the 2000’s.
Grief – Deep sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death
Synonyms: sorrow, misery, sadness, anguish, pain, distress, heartache, heartbreak, torment, affliction, woe.
Many things bring grief. It’s a universal sign of being human, and it isn’t a weakness. It’s the cost of loving deeply. Many things bring grief—-a move, loss of health, job loss, financial loss, empty nest, divorce, infertility, changing churches, anything that brings loss of dreams or major life change. Then there’s the loss of a beloved pet, a fire or flood that destroys your home, or a loss of a precious friendship. All of these things carry a season of grief. I pray that reading these tips will help a tiny bit…if only for you to know you aren’t alone. Many others have navigated these difficult waters.
Psalms 38:17 (The Message) I’m on the edge of losing it—the pain in my gut keeps burning. Psalms 31;9 (NIV) Be merciful to me, O Lord, For I m in distress: my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and y body
- Grief can bring physical responses. You may experience physical exhaustion, sleeplessness, depression, uncontrollable tears at unexpected times, feelings of anxiety, or an inability to eat or the opposite, overeating. Grief carries many emotions, and no two people grieve the same way. Just know should some of these symptoms occur, you’re not going crazy, you’re grieving. During this period, I did get a good check-up to make sure there was nothing wrong, and I got B-12 shots for a season. I also had an IV of vitamins because I was truly exhausted. Those things did give me a little pick-me-up.
- Grief can bring an inability to concentrate. I would attempt to read a book and I’d have to keep re-reading. I couldn’t retain it. It took about a year before that passed. My memory wasn’t great either. The taxes that I did six months after my hubby died, I had absolutely no memory of doing when the next tax season rolled around. It was an eery feeling. This is one of the reasons they say, “Don’t make any major decisions during the first year of grief.”
- Grief can Paralyze. I found myself forgetting to eat at times. I read a book by Elizabeth Elliot that helped me a lot—-she said, “Ask yourself what is the next thing you need to do?” In her case, her husband had been murdered in a foreign country, and they had a small baby. She’d ask herself the question and sometimes her answer was as simple as ‘feed the baby.” For me, sometimes the answer was as simple ‘pay the electric bill’ or “eat.” I found myself asking often, “Pam, what is the next thing you need to do?” Then I’d do it & ask myself the question again. That helped me to function.
- Grief can bring a feeling of desperation. I wasn’t prepared for that feeling and couldn’t understand it. Then when I thought of the enormity of the gaps left by the loss of my husband, I understood why I felt that way. It was an enormous loss. I learned I had to lean here: Psalm 62:8 (NAS)Trust in Him at all times, O people: Pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us. AND know you are navigating grief.
- Grief brings Ambushes, over and over. A song, a smell, a memory, a sight, an event, a holiday, or something totally innocent can suddenly bring an unexpected wave of grief. It helped me when I realized that it was an ambush, and I wasn’t going crazy. I’d tell myself, “Well, that was another ambush!” I still have ambushes ever once in awhile, and it’s been 14 years since my husband died. They are a normal part of grief and loss. Recognizing them & naming the episode helped me.
- Grieving can’t be rushed. You’re healing from a great loss, and it will take time. Precious memories will eventually become a reservoir of treasure and a salve for your heart. As you walk through this grief work, make the choice day by day to put one foot in front of the other and keep walking. It feels you are in a dark tunnel now but one day, you’ll walk out of the tunnel into the light. So choose to press forward with baby steps each day!
- Grief is heavy -Keep something ahead to look forward I dreaded Friday nights because my husband and I usually went out to eat. It helped to have my toddler grandson spend that night with me, and I’d take him out for pizza. I looked forward to that all week. Often, I also planned lunch with a friend, or a small trip out of town to visit loved ones, attempting to keep a snippet of joy ahead of me. I eventually went on some mission trips, after I’d healed about a year. I found all those things contributed to my healing because they made me focus on doing something and others…not on my self and my loss. Do try to keep something out in front of you to look forward to. It will help you.
- Grief is not without Hope. You’re forever changed, but God doesn’t leave us in a valley of despair without hope. He will provide a means for you to cope with your grief. Matthew 5:4(NIV) Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Jeremiah 29:11(NIV) For I know the plans I have for you—plans to give you a hope and a future. (I clung to this. I chose to believe that God still had a plan for me though it felt my life was over!) There are life lessons to be learned even in this journey of grief.
NOTE of Warning: Do resist the tendency to make any major decisions that first year. Keep your guard up. Only God and time bring healing.
- Consider Grief Share Classes Through this link you can locate a group near you. Finding other widows helped me a lot. You can also subscribe on their site to a daily devotional. It’s a thirteen week course, and it isn’t a cry-fest!(Which is what I didn’t want–a bunch of sad people sharing sad stories!) I took the class at least four times, maybe five. It taught me a lot about grief and helped me.
- Think on His Promises, Believe them, Draw comfort from His them.
- Allow yourself to weep. I remember reading a book where a mom had buried two of her children within five years. She’d just got in her room and have a cry time, to help herself work through it. Then she’d get up and wash her face, and move forward. I did that on occasion on a particularly sad day. It’s your grief process, so learn what helps you.
- Listen daily to uplifting music, no sad tunes!
- Journal – write down your blessings, think about them….they are many. (As a young woman, my mother washed her clothes by hand. She hung them out on the clothes line.) We have so many, many blessings!
- Don’t get stuck in grief – deliberately work toward being whole again
- Deal carefully with your loved ones material goods…you don’t want to too hastily make permanent decisions. Quilts can be made out of shirts & T-shirts. Costume jewelry can be repurposed–even buttons can be used to make a keepsake…so can hand written items, recipes, etc. These items could become treasures to hand down and bring joy later. (If you’re one that needs to get reminders out of site, consider boxing and labeling for later.)
2 Corinthians 1:4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.