It’s okay to do these things while you grieve:
I was originally going to post a few points about grief and a few of the feelings you might experience in a general format of loss, but I realize I haven’t experienced the loss or grief that others have, and I didn’t want to claim that I had. I can sympathize with any death of someone you’ve held dear, but can only empathize with the death of a grandparent or parent. The passing of my mother was one of the hardest, most tragic things I have experienced to date, and as I’ve made my way, blindly and staggering, through the grieving process, I’ve discovered a few things. I decided to share them with you. Even though my thoughts will be based on the loss of my mom, perhaps some or even all of these may apply to you in your grief. Whether you are at the beginning stages of the death of a loved one, have been in the journey for years, or know an impending passing is near, I would pray this finds you.
When faced with grief you experience a multitude of feelings. A lot of those emotions and behaviors may be unwelcome and leave you feeling imbalanced or wrong in your actions and feelings. What follows are a few things that I can tell you it’s okay to feel or do. Naturally, this is noninclusive. I am listing but a few of the major feelings I experienced.
It’s okay to forget they’re gone. One of the hardest things for me after my mom passed was not to talk to her every single day. Even when I lived a thousand miles from her we still spoke pretty much daily by phone. If something happened good or bad, she was the one I would tell.
After she died I spent so many days trying to call her. I would need to tell her something so I would pick up the phone. Then I would remember. I got so frustrated with myself because I continued to do this. Even to this day, years later, if I experience major frustration, disappointment, or especially excitement, I will have a moment where I think, I gotta call Mom.
It’s okay if you do this. Love is a hard habit to break. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. It just means a piece of you is missing from this earth.
It’s okay to be really sad when you realize you’ve forgotten that they’re gone. The hardest part for me of picking up the phone to call my mom was when I realized I could not. There would be that brief second where I was really excited to share something with her, but then it was gone. Then it was followed by a stabbing realization that she would never answer the phone again. And it hurt. Bad.
It’s okay to feel that pain. It’s hard to not hear a voice, see a smile, or feel an embrace again. It’s beyond hard, and I’m telling you, it’s okay to be sad when you think about it.
So what I’m saying is, it’s okay to be sad! They don’t mean to do it, but there’s a lot of people who want to tell you things like:
“Chin up. She wouldn’t want you to feel sad.”
“You know she’s in a better place!”
“She doesn’t hurt any more.”
“She’s singing with the angels.”
“She would want you to move on.”
For the record, I think all these things are true. Heck, I’ve said most of this stuff to someone myself. They’re well-intentioned comments, but they don’t help when you’re not in a place to hear them. They don’t work like a magic spell, that when they’re spoken, poof, your grief disappears. Only time and grace have any effect on grief, not a well-placed phrase of condolence.
A lot of times, even though that’s definitely not the intention, the well wishes of others can make you feel worse. You think, I guess I shouldn’t be so sad. I’m really handling this all wrong! I’m here to tell you, there is no right way. It’s okay to be sad. Cut yourself some slack.
Also, it’s okay to be angry. I mean it’s okay to be really stinking mad. If you need to go outside and scream, then by all means, do it! Scream until you lose your voice if you have to. Cuss, cry, punch a wall. Sometimes emotions are so strong that you just have to let them out before they eat you up inside. It’s not fair that people die. This world, this creation of God, became full of sin. Death is an end in this world, but the beginning of eternity in Heaven for those who believe in Him. This is the hope we have, that death is conquered. Does that make living here suddenly without them automatically easy and pain free? No. It doesn’t. Time and grace again.
It’s okay to feel emotion over loss. Sadness. Anger. It’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re any less of a Christian or love God any less. It means you love others with your whole heart, like He intended.
It’s okay if holidays are a difficult time for you, or bring mixed emotions. As Christmas approaches I’m reminded of how difficult the holidays can be when grieving. Thanksgiving, Christmas, these are times when loved ones gather to celebrate. These are times of traditions, memories, years upon years of moments of joy. When a person is removed from the festivities it often brings sadness. No, strike that. It always brings sadness. To someone. This is natural. Often times the holidays serve as lemon juice to a paper cut. Seeing holiday fun and being unable to share it with your favorite person? Hard. Really, really hard.
It’s okay to remember them and be sad they’re not able to join in the festivities. It doesn’t mean you’re a grinch if you need to back off from the celebrations or change traditions. You’re grieving, you’re healing. It’s devastatingly tough.
It’s okay if you need to be alone for a while. So many people think, “She shouldn’t be alone right now!” When you lose someone close to you it’s really overwhelming to your emotions. Like, that doesn’t even begin to describe what happens. The shock, the sadness, the disbelief, the anger. It’s heavy. Often times, most of the time, people will flock to you, surrounding you with support and love. And this is good too. But sometimes you just need to be alone with your thoughts. This is good also, going away to think. I can think of someone who did this… Jesus. Remember, when things are quiet, we can hear God best.
If you know someone grieving, and they are stable in their thought patterns, it may be best to back off. Give them some space and time alone with God. It’s okay to want to be alone for a while.
It’s okay to heal. This was, and still is a hard one for me. Remember time and grace that I spoke of? God gives both, and with it brings healing. The degree of your loss has bearing on how long and to what extent this occurs, but my point is that it’s okay. Sometimes you can have survivor’s guilt. You think you can’t/shouldn’t ever be happy.
How can I be happy with him gone?
How can I move on without him here?!
My grief must keep his memory alive.
One day you wake up and you look out the window and see a mother robin feeding her babies. You smile. Your first smile in a long time. But then you cover your face with your hand. You feel guilty, like you have no right to feel happiness in the face of such loss. But you do. It’s okay to not feel any of the things I listed above. It’s okay to be happy. It’s okay to heal.
You may not heal completely. You may find yourself in the middle, in between devastation and complete joy, and that’s okay too. There is no specific pattern, no right or wrong, there is just you, your grief, those God has placed around you in this time, and the comfort of His Spirit. Whatever you are feeling, it’s okay.
Repeat it to yourself if you must.
That is all 🙂