About this time last year, I was planning a conference on grief. The essence of the conference was to educate the attendees on the many aspects of grief. As I met with the conference guest who had experienced grief, I learned some invaluable insight on what not to say to people who are grieving. I learned that grief is not a ‘one size fits all’ experience. It is unique to the person who has experienced a loss. I also learned that there is no such thing as ‘get over it, or ‘now it is time to move on.’ The truth is a timetable for grieving is nonexistence. I am told, you never get over a loss, you just learn to live with a new normal…life without that person or situation.
Yes, a person can grieve over more than the loss of life. The key word in grieving is loss. Anytime you experience a loss, there is grief. Grief is an intense sorrow that makes you feel heavy hearted. In fact, according to the Oxford Dictionary, grief comes from the Latin word gravare, which mean heavy and weighty. This describes the intense sorrow associated with grief.
Grief is more than a feeling; it can manifest as a longing. You could be longing for the feelings and comfort that were associated with that person, place, thing, or idea. I will explain: If you lose you spouse, the relationship that you had over the years, made you feel warm, safe, loved, special, and comforted. Although you miss the physical absence of that person, you miss what that person added to your life. The same applies to a place. Have you ever lived in a certain town for years? Life circumstances cause you to relocate. The grief is now associated with all the feelings mentioned that were associated with the town and the people in that town. No one died, but they are far-away, and the emotions associated with people from that town are now only a memory.
Once the relocation takes place and life leads to new people, places, and experiences. The longing subsides and now your new norm can offer you the same joyous feelings. With time, your longing and deep sorrow can be replaced with memories that cause you to feel warm, safe, loved, special, and comforted. Sometimes those feelings make you smile, and, on another occasion, those same feelings make you sad and weepy. Just as memories of other losses can become joyous, feelings of loss over a loved one, a spouse, a mother, a father, sibling, best friend, or anyone else dear to you can as well. Give it some time. Be ok with your grief process, it is unique to you.
I remember after my mom died; I did not want to feel sadness. I especially did not want others to see me sad. I did not want people to feel sorry for me. I did not want them to treat me differently. I could not handle the face-change. I even began to avoid people, because of the face-change. What I mean by face-change is when people have a happy face and as soon as the conversation turns to your loss, the proverbial, “How are you feeling or doing”, with the countenance change to a sad one would make me feel even more sad. I understand it is appropriate, but it sure is noticeable. I guess there is no way to win for the person who intends to comfort. If they don’t say anything and act normal, then on any given day, you could become offended for not being asked. I guess the key to anything in life, even during the time of grief, it to exercise grace, love, and forgiveness. We as humans try but may miss the mark, but the intent is comfort. Experiencing either emotion is quite ok. No apologies are necessary when you experience your wave of grief. But try in your state of grief to give people the benefit of the doubt when they make blunders in their attempt to comfort. After all, they are grieving with you for your loss, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep,” Romans 12:15.
Finally, as you grieve, take in your emotions, allow them to flow in and out, remember as you grieve, allow the Holy Spirit to comfort you and whisper affirming truths in your ear. The word of God assures us that God comforts us in all things. 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” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). Embrace your season of grief, it is part of life’s journey.
The Journey flows…