For many of you, today will involve visiting a grave. Others of you may not visit a grave but your mind will wander back to memories of a loved one now gone from this earth.
As I’ve talked with some of you who have recently lost a loved one, I hear the ache in your voice. You talk of the unpredictability of grief. You talk of a day that seems normal suddenly getting sidelined when a sad memory takes you captive. You talk of walking through the day in a fog. You talk of wild dreams.
Oh, my friends, I remember.
After Mom died, I often found myself sidelined by a song on the radio, a song at church, a glance at one of her favorite books. My legs felt heavy. My aching heart seemed to make my whole body heavy. And then at night I had these crazy dreams, usually involving roller coasters and trying to keep Mom from falling off one. I woke from them certain that she actually still lived and that I had merely dreamed her death.
I often lay in bed after waking from such dreams and just tried to sort out reality. I lived in Illinois. Mom no longer lived in Colorado. She had a heavenly home. She had indeed died.
So, my grieving friends, my heart aches with you.
May I encourage you that this messy, crazy journey of grief will not always linger in every corner of your mind and heart? And may I also encourage you to take the journey? Take the time to feel what you feel, cry if you need to, talk to friends and family if that helps, journal. . . .
Might seem that avoiding grief could ease your pain most. Just stay busy with tasks and people. But everything I’ve read and lived through tells a different story. The best way through grief is just that—through it.
Know that I’m cheering you on. And know that in time you will emerge from the fog of grief. Your heart will feel stronger. Your eyes will see other’s pain more easily. Your feet will take you more often to the side of others in sorrow.
Let me leave you with some words that have given me countless moments of hope in my grief. And let me also leave with you some resources related to grief:
He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust.
I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is.
So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
Lamentations 3:16-24, NIV
GriefShare offers lots of helpful resources, including a daily email with s encouragement and some questions to consider during your the grief process.
This set of four booklets, written by a man who lost his wife to ovarian cancer, helped my mother-in-law immensely. They came to her at different time intervals after Poppo’s death and contained words of comfort meant specifically for that particular period in her journey. You can order these books for friends.
This article talks about the power of personal rituals in the grief process.
This article can help us all think more about how we help others in their times of grief.