Sometimes, grief catches us by surprise. It’s been over twelve years now since my father passed away. Recently I stopped by a media business to have my wedding VHS recording transferred to DVD. Not only did my father give me away in marriage, he also made the wedding video for us. He thoroughly enjoyed technology and worked on video projects. As I entered the business it reminded me of my dad, and the urge to weep came over me. Early on, this was a common part of the grieving process. Over time it became less strong and less often, and I could speak of my dad with peace. But once in a while it still catches me by surprise!
There are many kinds of deaths; not only loved ones who die, but also lost dreams, ended relationships, or saying goodbye to a familiar place. Each of these deaths may begin a season of grieving.
Here’s a few things I have learned through grieving:
- We don’t need to say things are okay. We can be real with our emotions. In my experience, sad things are always sad. Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb despite being the one who would raise him to life. Death deeply moved him! As we move through grief, rather than avoiding or ignoring our feelings, we will find healing when we journey with them.
- Authenticity builds relationships and allows us to receive support. Being authentic allows us to receive love from others and stay connected with them in our grief, rather than isolating ourselves. We may be tempted to withdraw from people, but being involved is a healthier choice. There was no hiding my grief from the man who worked at the media business. But this is okay! As I follow Jesus, I want to be a real person living out real faith in real life. Other people have grief in their lives as well. As I share my real life, including the hard and imperfect parts, others might feel more free to be authentic as well.
- Focus on today. For me, in times of grief, I have found satisfaction in the simple work I needed to do that day. “What do I need to do today?” “What work or responsibility is mine today?” Simple work can be good for our soul.
- Be gentle on yourself. Grieving is exhausting. Take care of yourself during this hard season. Give yourself grace and don’t put heavy expectations on yourself. Prioritize what you need to do and say “no” to the rest.
- Draw near to Jesus. He is very present with us in our grief, and understands us because he has experienced grief. He chose not to avoid experiencing grief, and became a “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Our brokenness is an invitation to see our need for Jesus. While we might not have much energy in our time of hurting, we can offer a short call for help. For me, drawing near to Jesus has been so simple as holding out my open hand, as I release my cares to him and receive his love. Or, I have said a one-word prayer, like “Jesus” or “help, Lord.”
Jesus is very near to us in our grief. His love carries us. And with love, a time will come when we have the opportunity to support others through their grief.
“… we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself … But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God … who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” ~II Cor. 1: 8, 9, 4
What have you learned through grieving? Please share, so you can encourage others!
Kathryn Featherstone is a certified Christian Life Coach by the Board of Christian Life Coaches. She is trained by Gallup for coaching with CliftonStrengths assessment and resources. She’d like to encourage you in your journey! Write her a note or see her Coaching page.