One of the most beautiful things about humanity is how we connect with others. Through our interactions, we emotionally bond with friends and family. We pull those people close to our hearts, just as they draw us in. And when we lose them, we feel intense pain inside. It’s as if a part of us has also been lost.
My father’s recent death marked the passing of my entire family. To say that grief and I are familiar is an understatement. I’ve found that it’s a process that doesn’t end, but with effort and time, it can get easier.
There is no perfect way to deal with grief. The stages we face are often out of order. They make no sense, and sometimes they get in the way of our everyday life. I can be laughing one moment, crying the next. It can make others uncomfortable because they don’t know how to react.
So how do we deal with grief? I’m no expert, nor am I a therapist. But I know the feeling of being alone, with no one to help or support you. So in the hope of offering support for someone else, I’ve created a list of things that have helped me find a way through.
1. Prayer. I know it sounds trite, but nothing will salve that pain like prayer. You may not feel like it. In fact, everything in you will likely fight against it. Sometimes it takes force to get on our knees, but it’s worth it.
2. Acceptance. This is probably the most difficult thing you’ll ever face. On this side of heaven, we may never get the answers to why or where our loved one has gone. Hard truth here: We are not entitled to those answers either. Remember, God knows what he is doing. I can’t stress enough how vital it is to trust him.
3. Know that it is okay to get angry with God. He created you with the emotions you have, and he knew how your life would play out. He knows how you feel, and he aches with you. Physical death on this side of heaven is a product of sin’s curse, and he never meant for us to experience that. Keep that in mind, even in your anger, and trust that he still has a plan for your life and he loves you more than you can imagine.
4. Do not hold it in. Hiding from your pain is an unhealthy coping mechanism. Jesus wept for Lazarus, openly and freely. Yes, it will hurt, but face it. Cry. Scream if you must. Find someone who will listen if you don’t want to face it alone. But do not hold it in, beloved. If you do, it will come out sideways and affect other areas of your life negatively. (Sidenote: There is a place and time for this. Learn to set aside those emotions until you have the time to process them.)
5. Find a support group or a talk therapist. Friends and family will not always be enough. When I ache so hard that I can’t stop the tears and my friends can only offer so much, I turn to my therapist for professional advice and to those who have suffered similar pain. Support groups also have the added benefit that you can encourage others who hurt.
The most profound lesson I have learned is that grief is the price of love. If someone is worth my love, then that person must also be worth my tears and heartache. I love my friends and my remaining family. I know if I lose any of them, I will be devastated. But I also know that each one is worth the devastation.
Never let fear of grief stop you from fully loving others, or you’ll miss the most beautiful part of life. The people you love are your treasures. Jesus believed you were worth more than his tears; you were worth his own death. He loves you so much that he chose to suffer for you. He chose you as his treasure. Keep in mind as you grieve that the one who died for you, wept over you, grieved for you as he went to the cross.
Beloved, trust the Lord to wipe your tears. Allow him to comfort you and bring you peace. As always, remember that you are eternally loved.