Grieving touches us all if we live long enough. 2015 was a very difficult year for two families in my circle of friends. One of my former classmates at Olivet Nazarene University passed away unexpectedly. A few days later, the former youth pastor at my church in Winston-Salem, NC lost a loved one to a violent crime.
Both of these situations left spouses, children, and extended family and friends in tremendous grief. In response, I wanted to write some lessons I have learned about grieving.
- We grieve on our own terms. Others may give us advice or tell us what to expect, but ultimately, grief is a process that is different for us all.
- We grieve best in a community. When we have loved ones, physically present, who offer support and share the sorrow we face, we tend to recover better.
- We grieve best when we can express our emotions through words, pictures, music, art, exercise, and other actions that give voice to what is inside of us.
- We grieve slowly. Recovery from the trauma of losing a loved one doesn’t happen quickly.
- We grieve best when we are hopeful. Believing that recovery from our pain is possible helps us to continue the process of healing.
Wisdom Through Grieving
What we learn from grieving is profound. Some of these lessons are encouraging and others are sad, but wisdom helps us recover.
- We learn how much we love others.
- We learn the unpredictable, chaotic, and broken nature of our world.
- We learn how much we need the support of others.
- We learn how short life is and how precious each moment is that we have with loved ones.
- We learn that in spite of the loss and brokenness, there is much beauty and love in the world. Our departed loved ones would want us to experience it.
Perhaps you are coping with grief. Sadness is a normal response to the loss of a loved one, but if you are not able to function well after a loss, you may need help in your recovery. Don’t struggle with depression on your own. If your support system isn’t adequate, or you find that you need additional support, consider counseling services.