Friends, we are in a season of grief. Every week, there is loss. Because of COVID almost all of us have experienced the death of a friend, family member, or at the least you are hearing stories of acquaintances who have passed away. Many of these are seemingly healthy people, prior to contracting COVID, and sadly they are people who seemed to still be in the prime of their life, possibly with young children. I don’t feel led to address any stance on COVID precautions. We all know the tools that are available to help us fight this horrible pandemic. I’m also not trying to spread fear. At this point, we also know the risk of COVID. I simply feel led to address the topic of grief and loss and its hard to deny the increasing number of folks who are joining the “grief club.” In a way, it’s becoming a pandemic itself. It’s shocking and heartbreaking to see so many families hurting and I can’t help but contemplate the effects of grief on our current society. Realizing that everyone’s grief journey is different, I do think there are a few things that I have learned on my own journey that I’d like to share.
Grieving people will never be who they were before their loved one died. Losing a loved one causes you to lose a piece of yourself and I’m convinced that it’s a piece of your heart. I remember the person that I was before Sarah died, untainted by death. I laughed more, I focused better, I slept better, I ate better, and my priorities were different. I may not seem different to many of you, but to my family, they can tell. There’s an innocence’s that is lost when death steals away someone that you love. It’s as if the unthinkable actually occurred and there is a distrust of statistics and reasoning. I give no weight to percentages now when I hear them used to minimize a risk. I just can’t help it.
Grieving people need space to just be. Don’t expect them to attend family functions or keep appointments regularly. Sometime, even in route to something planned, a wave of grief comes out of no where and just paralyzes me. Please give grace to those who are adjusting to a new normal. Grieving people often just feel sick themselves. The aches and pains of grief can make you feel like you’ve ran a marathon or even have the flu. The lack of sleep can also cause a grieving person to feel less than themselves. If you’re grieving, some days it’s OK if the most that you accomplish is getting out of bed and doing some self-care, like eating, showering, or taking an extra nap. Grieving people need time to work through the trauma of their loss-some more than others. If you are a friend, co-worker, or supervisor of someone who is grieving. Please give them some margin. Sooner or later, you’ll be in their position of grief too.
Grieving people need to know that you are available to talk about and remember their loved one. Please don’t be afraid to say their loved ones name and share memories or special things about their person. I realize that this may cause you to be concerned that you may upset them or make them sad, but honestly they already are both those things. They may actually need someone one else to validate their loss and feelings. It’s more hurtful when others do not acknowledge the loss that you feel. Tears are not always an indication that a grieving person is having a bad day. Sometimes tears are exactly the thing needed to have a better day. Trust me when I say that is a gift to them to even just speak their name. There are exceptions to this rule. So, don’t be too pushy and just follow their lead after you mention their loved one.
Grieving people need forgiveness. That’s right. I said forgiveness. Grieving people will not always make the right choices. They will do things that are hurtful, selfish, impulsive, irresponsible… I could go on and on. You see, the hurt is heavy and grieving people are just trying to stop the hurt, hide the hurt, or forget about the hurt for a while. Grief shouldn’t entitle us to hurt others on purpose and there are consequences to bad choices, obviously. It’s ok to set boundaries with a grieving person, if they are not respecting you. However, just be aware that extra grace is needed when maintaining a healthy relationship with a grieving person. Watch for indications that professional grief counseling may be necessary and encourage them to seek further help.
Grieving people need Jesus. I follow different types of grief support groups on social media. There are some grief support groups that do not tolerate any sort of faith-based approach to grieving. It honestly is so dismal. I’m even more confounded by it because most will admit that their loved one is still a spiritual being. They believe that their soul/spirit has moved on somewhere and they may even believe in heaven, but they will not acknowledge Jesus. Friends, Jesus is the only one to defeat death. He is the key to heaven. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Unless we humble ourselves and accept His payment for our sins, we will not receive eternal life in heaven. Submitting our lives to Him, not only gives us the hope of heaven, but it provides joy, peace, and purpose for us now, here on earth.
Even on my darkest day, I can know, because of Jesus, that I will be reunited with Sarah someday. Even on my darkest day, I can know that the Holy Spirit will comfort me and give me strength to endure the sadness. Even on my darkest day, I can still feel joy. I may be sad for myself because I miss Sarah, but I can know that she is experiencing pure joy and happiness. Even on my darkest day, I know that death has been defeated and one day, it will not exist. God is patient, but there will be a day that every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.(Philippians 2:10-11) If you’re still not sure about Jesus, I encourage you to research Him for yourself.