The Broncos are going to the Super Bowl and many of my friends and family are celebrating while many others are grieving. Of course, that kind of grief is, generally, mild and fleeting. Sadly, in the last several months, I have also had several friends who are grieving for a whole different reason. They have lost a beloved friend or family member. Some of these deaths were expected. Others were out of the blue! I’ve gone through this more than once and in both ways. It’s not fun and it’s not easy. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things we can ever go through. I lost over 15 pounds in two weeks when my husband died unexpectedly. I just couldn’t handle food. I’d eat a couple of bites here or there to keep me going for the sake of my kids, grandkids, senior parents and friends. But the feeling in my stomach that just wouldn’t go away didn’t let much food in.
It’s been almost ten years since my dad passed away and longer than that since I lost my sweet husband. For those of you just now going through this difficult journey, I can tell you that it DOES get easier. Not quickly. But bit by bit, minute by minute, month by month, and even year by year, it gets better. I’m not the only one to say that either. So please know that’s another part of the grieving process.
Everyone handles grief in different ways. I’ve shared before and am sharing again what I did. It was a blessing for me. You might find different ways. PLEASE KNOW, no matter WHO says WHAT (and there will probably be plenty of whos saying plenty of things ), generally speaking, there is NO right or wrong way to grieve. Whether you sit in a chair and weep for days, get up and clean the house five times in a week, work on a photo album of your loved one to remember them OR a photo album with NO pictures of your loved one to take your mind to other places or find some other way to deal with this season of life, those are all OK.
Some of the things I did to help myself during the process were:
- I clung harder than ever to God. He has long been my rock and my refuge and never more so than in the midst of these difficult journeys. I made sure I spent time daily in His Word, even when I didn’t feel up to it – even if just for a minute here and a minute there.
- Someone brought us a big deli plate of cheese and meat slices the first night. That was such a sweet blessing. As I said, I just couldn’t sit down and eat. But I could grab a piece of cheese or a slice of meat periodically. It kept me going until I could start getting back to my regular routines.
- I love to listen to music in the car and occasionally in the house. But for the first six months after losing my husband, I kept all my favorite Christian praise and worship music playing constantly. It kept me centered on Him and filled my heart and mind with His Word throughout the day, whether I was always aware of it or not.
- By a miracle, I discovered Griefshare.org – I don’t know for sure but I think it was not too long after they started. At the time, as I recall, they just had a simple Bible study on grief that I printed out and worked on every day. It was truly a blessing to me. When my dad passed away, I revisited their site and discovered they now had an awesome and free option of receiving an email every day from them. These emails are devotionals with Scripture, words and verses of encouragement, and books on grief and loss that they recommend. You don’t have to buy them. If you do buy them, you don’t have to buy from them. I have since bought several they have shared and they’ve all been excellent. I cannot recommend Griefshare.org highly enough!
- Being a reader, I did find several excellent books on grief and loss on my own and through friends’ recommendations. I read many. I learned, cried, applied, and grew in the process.
- Whenever someone invited me out for lunch, dinner, or coffee, I said yes. I did that because of the recommendation from a couple of the books I had read. Each time I felt better. Both because of the companionship AND because I was able to comfort each of them over their own situations as I was walking through this time of loss. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:2-5, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” That is so true, even when we might be in the midst of suffering, as well as later.
- Based on excellent recommendations from several books and friends, I purposed to make no major changes in that first year. Not all can do that. Sometimes a sudden death means you have to move which makes things even more difficult. But God is good and will help us and guide us through that if He has allowed it. In my case, we stayed busy and continued with things we’d already started. But we made no major life changes that first year and I am so grateful for the excellent advice.
- Being a writer (and a talker) I’m very big on communication. I felt that it was vital to touch base with all my closest family often to see how they were doing, to talk about our loved one, and to share thoughts of them with each other. For us, it was a blessing and again, I’m so glad I did that.
These were the main things I did during those difficult time periods. I’m sure there were more things, but these are what I remember the most vividly as being a blessing and a help for us. Now, I hope and pray they will be a blessing and a help for you when you may go through a sad and lonely season of grief and loss. Please know that you are never alone. As Hebrews 13:5 reminds us, “God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” He is always there for us and with us. What joy is in that thought! Blessings!
P.S. Another good resource that I didn’t know about back then are all the excellent Christian blogs full of Christian encouragement, including Charlotte’s Spiritual Sunday. Whether you go there just to read posts or to share thoughts, they can be a big help – especially to those who might not be able to get out and about easily!