For each year I’ve moved somewhere new, God has taught me something different about love. This past year he taught me love in the form of grief. My mom passed away on December 3rd, 2021. Grief is very strange, but cannot exist without love. "Grief only exists where love was first." - Francesca Cox.
I’m still trying to figure out how to transfer my love from an earthly person in my daily life to someone who is in heaven now. I've said I lost her, but she’s not lost at all. I’m joyful that she’s hanging out with God all the time and shes still with me, just in a very different way than she has always been.
Learning to love someone who’s in heaven has been the most emotionally challenging adjustment, but it is something that is inevitable for the majority of us at some point in our lives and is completely out of our control. Our perspective is the power we hold over the things we cannot control.
We get a different perspective by surrendering and allowing ourselves to feel all the different emotions that show up in each of us. Getting familiar with the emotions can help us help others and ourselves on the extra challenging days.
We were taught how to identify when we need food by the hunger pains we feel in our stomach. If we didn’t know the reason for the pain, we wouldn’t know to eat in order to relieve it. We need to know how to identify all of our emotions, including grief. If we don’t, we may allow the pain to remain untreated instead of knowing how to relieve it.
In order to identify the cause of our actions and feelings, we have to take time for processing them through self reflection. The best way I’ve found to do this is by intentional quiet time to talk with God and completely surrendering it to Him. He knows how you feel and what is going on, even when you don’t. There’s never a time He leaves a conversation with more information from you than He had.
(I promise I’m going somewhere with this analogy) Our hunger pains are relieved when we eat and then come back when we get hungry again. What we feed ourselves has an effect on how long our stomachs are content for. You’re going to feel worse and get hungry again quicker after eating junk than you will if you eat something nutritious and healthy for you. Either way, you’ll be hungry again at some point.
My point in this analogy is this: grief is going to keep coming in waves because the love for the person will never go away. How we choose to relieve the pain during each wave makes a difference in our hearts and overall healing. If we choose to relieve the pain by “junk” that isn’t serving us, (alcohol, drugs, etc.) our hearts are going to be less content and may even make you feel worse. The relief and healing will last a lot longer by processing and surrendering your emotions to God. That’s not to say grief won’t come back time and time again like hunger does, but healing each wave in a healthy matter holds a lot of importance in our lives.
If you’re someone who is grieving, I want to give you a little bit of advice from what has helped me this past year. I started thanking myself for doing even the simple things like taking a shower, doing that load of laundry, unloading the dishwasher, or even just getting out of bed. I will literally say out loud to myself “thank you for doing that”.
It’s so paralyzing how grief makes it feel like the whole world should have stopped, but it hasn’t. We still have to do our every day things which makes even the little tasks difficult to do.
Take this as your reminder to thank yourself for the goals you accomplish and tasks you check off your to-do list. And to give yourself grace and patience on the days you can’t. You’ve earned the reason to be proud of yourself even if the one thing you did was survive.
It’s so important to treat yourself like you would your best friend because the work we do on ourselves becomes our gift to others. Proverbs 4:23 encourages us to guard our hearts above all else. Knowing how to nourish, protect and care for your heart is valuable because how you love yourself is how we're called to love others (Luke 10:27).
If you’re grieving a parent, I can speak to you with an understanding heart. Losing someone you’ve had in your whole life is very a difficult adjustment and feels very strange on top of the grief. No matter what age you are, you always feel the need for your parent. That never goes away even when they aren’t here on earth. This close loss is life changing and the grief is very unpredictable. It will demand to be felt even in the most inconvenient times and smallest triggering ways.
When my mom got to meet God, I remembering receiving messages of love, thoughts and prayers. I greatly appreciate those friends and strangers who took the caring time to help in many different ways. They saved me from drowning in waves of the tsunami of shock, grief and pain. There was something especially comforting about the people who have also lost a parent that reached out to me.
Some people can’t empathize with your loss and they feel helpless when they know they can’t take your pain away. Some even go distant to “give you your space” because they think that’s best for you. I want to let you know that I am here for you to reach out and talk to no matter where you are in your grief journey. I can understand what you’re feeling and even though we all grieve differently, talking to someone in the same situation can be great help from what I’ve experienced.
I’m still figuring it out, but please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need someone to figure it out with. My best advice I have is give yourself grace and patience. Some days you won’t accomplish what you want and you may even put a pause on goals you’ve had planned. Give yourself grace in those moments. Something I do to help myself with the overwhelming to-do list is focus on checking off one task a day. And praise myself for getting that one thing done.
I hope all of this doesn’t sound overwhelming to you, but this is the advice I wish I could go back and tell myself from the beginning.
If you are hurting, aching, broken and feel like you don't know what to do next, I am sorry. You are not alone in that tsunami. I pray you are able to realize how much God is with you even in the midst of the pain and chaos. I pray you are able to find a comforting hope in Jesus.
How we grieve as believers is important, and I am learning that the grieving process is refining. Grieving leads us to desperation and low points, but God offers hope, presence, comfort and healing. It's okay to mourn even when you know your person is with God. I strongly encourage you to read John 11:1-45 because it explains how Jesus cried over Lazarus' death even though he knew he was okay.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Matthew 5:4
"The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
"You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:6-7
My heart is broken and my mind is exhausted. I cry out to you and hardly know what to ask. Please continue to be near and comfort me in times of suffering from the aching grief I am learning to adjust to. I know I cannot make it through without your healing presence. Remind me to always turn to you when the grief becomes overwhelming because I believe you are the only one who can relieve my pain in the most satisfactory and healthy way. I need Your peace, which transcends all understanding to guard my heart and mind (Philippians 4:7) I need peaceful sleep. I ask for peaceful thoughts and emotions to rule my days and nights. Amen.