The other side of grief
What does grief look like on the other side? I have learnt over the past year that grief has many faces. For a few years, I walked on the one side of grief. I had written an article about loss last year whilst my Dad was still bravely fighting cancer. He has since gone to heaven but we still mourn his passing. He was a warrior. We not only mourn him but I think we also mourn for those of us that have been left behind and the gap that now exists. Now, I stand on the other side of grief.
Mourning the loss of someone you love is normal! The faces of grief don’t all show up in one form or one type of emotion. It shows you its face in your memories of the one you loved, in the dark night of the soul, in the warmth of the sunlight, in the smells that remind you on that beloved person and many more moments. Of itself, it can also be defined as the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.
In an excerpt from the article I wrote in October 2016 I was viewing life and loss in a different form: “I can really relate to the conflicting feelings caused by the end or the change in a familiar pattern…When my daughter and I were in an armed robbery in our home last year, I was struck by the conflicting feelings of loss. There was so much to process… a loss of feelings of safety and security, a loss of joy and for many months, sleep. I had to grieve those and learn to acknowledge my feelings and learn about a new normal. At times I was angry, at times I was sad, at times I despaired but with the love of my family and friends and encouragement from God I could continue… My dad is battling with cancer and the emotions I see surfacing in him, his wife and our family are very real and they are valid. We need to mourn the little things, the loss of connecting over a cup of coffee, dealing with change and how it affects our world. But, we also need to keep hope alive!”
2017 has been a year of experiencing grief on the other side. Since January when my Dad went to heaven, one of my dear friends lost her husband tragically later that same month. A young 12 year-old boy collapsed and died at school recently and my sister-in-law also lost her Dad suddenly a month ago. Grief and loss surround us and the culture of today tells us that we need to move on and to move on quickly, But, not so!
In learning how to guide my children through their grief, managing my own and walking with friends through their pain, I have written these few points that might help you (or guide you as you support someone you love):
- Moments of emotion and grief will catch you at unexpected times. Don’t fight them. Allow yourself and your children to talk and ask questions.
- Take time to recognize your emotions, understand why you are feeling that emotion, regulate it and then decide what to do with that emotion. Do you need a cup of tea, a hug, time out or to sit in the sun and be with someone you love. Allow your children and yourself to name and recognize the emotions that are felt in the months that follow (don’t put a time limit on it).
- Talk about the memories with a safe person.
- Let your children know that it’s ok to be sad that it’s ok to not understand everything that they are feeling. You can tell yourself the same thing too.
- Give and seek comfort where it is needed. How do you receive comfort…is it through creative expression, tears, talking, hugs, a warm bath or just sitting with the one who is looking for comfort. Help them feel better.
Grief can be the feeling of reaching out for someone who’s always been there, only to discover when I need her [or him] one more time, she’s no longer there.
In an article about helping your child deal with death, D’Arcy Lyness, PhD writes,” Grief is a process that happens over time. Be sure to have ongoing conversations to see how your child is feeling and doing. Healing doesn’t mean forgetting about the loved one. It means remembering the person with love, and letting loving memories stir good feelings that support us as we go on to enjoy life.”
That hit me deep inside when I read that. I know that as humans we will all face loss and we will all need to grieve. Cling to those who love you to help you through those days and hold onto the hope that we have in Jesus.
I have compiled a prayer from a variety of scriptures – it has helped me and it has encouraged me. May it do so for you too.
Thank you that you know me inside and out. I know that see the deepest part of me and that you store my tears up in a bottle and have recorded each one in your book. Thank you that you tell me to not be afraid because I am worth more than many sparrows to you. Your Word says that I don’t need to fear because you are with me. That I don’t need to be dismayed, for I you are my God. I love it that you say that you will strengthen me and help me; that you will uphold me with your righteous right hand. Thank you that you bring comfort and peace like no other. I choose to cast my cares on you, my Lord. My heart has been heavy and I have been sad but I also know that you will sustain me because you say that you will never let the righteous be shaken. Thank you that I can cast all my anxiety on you because you care for me. Help me Lord to turn to you for comfort and strength. Renew my joy and in you I have hope again. May your kingdom come on earth and in my life as it is in heaven.
Psalm 139, Psalm 56:8, Matthew 10:30-31, Isaiah 41:10, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalms 55:22, I Peter 5:7