The grieving process is a phrase that immediately makes us want to retreat, curl up, and crawl into a dark, quiet hole. It is a phrase we despise because it means that something in our world has changed and we are struggling with how to handle moving forward when our heart feels flooded with emotions. Grief is defined as “deep sorrow” and is mostly used when someone has died.
Grief can come in many forms:
- The loss of a loved one
- The loss of a relationship due to unresolved issues, a falling out, or emotional baggage
- Serious illness of a loved one or partner
- The loss of joy in a relationship
- Miscarriage or loss of a child
- The loss of one’s identity or dream
- Selling a home
- Loss of safety after a trauma
Ken Doka describes disenfranchised grief as, “Grief that persons experience when they incur a loss that is not or cannot be openly acknowledged, socially sanctioned or publicly mourned.”
- Imagine being eight weeks pregnant, preparing to tell your family about the child growing inside of you, only to lose the baby just days before you announce your news. The cute announcement onesies were ready to go, your picture was uploaded and ready to send, and your heart was overflowing, imagining what next year would be like with a newborn baby.
- Imagine struggling all your life with not knowing your father because he left when you were a young child. You grieved what could have been and wonder why this parent never fought to be in your life. Were you not enough? Did they want to know you? Will they ever come back into the picture and try to get to know you? The questions seem endless and are constantly replaying in your mind.
- Imagine growing up knowing that you wanted to be a singer and use your voice to reach others with a positive message. You just knew this is what you were supposed to do. Unfortunately, after ten years of trying to make your mark, you realized you were done trying and gave up a dream that filled your heart to the brim with joy and possibilities. Bills and scheduling demands seemed to overtake those dreams at some point, and it stole your joy.
- Imagine losing the love of your life in a car accident. You just want to wake up from this terrible nightmare – it cannot be true. You were supposed to grow old together, have a family together, and live your own happily ever after.
- Imagine having a successful career where you work 50+ hours a week. You get pregnant and decide that you want to be a stay-at-home mom and raise your child. You are so thankful that God has blessed you with the opportunity, but you also feel lost in the slew of dirty diapers, round-the-clock feedings, and vomit-covered shirts that you find it difficult to adjust to this being your new normal. While you find such joy in raising your child, you always feel lost in a sea of emotions and a schedule that a baby now dictates.
Grief. Grief often feels like a harsh punch to the stomach. It takes the breath right out of you and leaves you feeling numb. It makes it difficult to breathe. Grief takes away your ability to find the right words, to ask for help, and to know how to move forward when the darkness has overtaken your soul.
5 Things to Remember About the Grieving Process
If you are struggling with a season of grief today, know this:
1. You can grieve at your own pace.
Whether you have lost a loved one due to illness, had a miscarriage, are struggling with a relationship fall-out, or dealing with the “what ifs” from a parent that never showed up, just know that you need to permit yourself to grieve at your own pace.
Do not allow your friends to tell you when you should be “over it.” Grieve if you need to grieve. Cry if you need to cry. Schedule a counseling session so you can be guided, supported, (and not rushed) through the grieving process.
2. You must feel to grieve.
One misconception about grief is that you should just push your pain to the back of your heart. You need to permit yourself to grieve. It is okay to ask for a shoulder to cry on. Grief is a natural response, not a weak response. If you feel shock, sadness, anger, or disbelief – do not feel like your emotions are misplaced or that you are weak for feeling such strong emotions.
Feel them. Allow others to comfort you during this time. Ask for help or company when you feel it is too intense. Do not try to carry it all alone – especially in silence. Trying to hide your grief only prolongs the process and might make it heavier to carry. Face your grief and feel what you naturally feel.
3. Everyone carries grief differently.
It is a common misconception that the grieving process looks the same for everyone. Grief can look immeasurably different for everyone. We are all different individuals with various emotions and coping mechanisms. Do not feel the need to fit a mold when it comes to grief. Maybe you cry, maybe you do not. Maybe you feel safe, maybe you do not. Some people need a few days alone while others want to be around other people right away. Grieve the way that you need to grieve.
4. Seek support for your grief.It is important to the healing process to know that grief does change you in some way, shape, or form. The pieces of your heart do not have to stay broken. However, the pieces might feel differently as you begin to piece them back together. Grief might change the way you prioritize, love others, or put more emphasis on the things that are important to you, and that is okay.
Others might try to reach out to you and feel unsure of how to approach someone who is grieving. You can just let them know that you just need a friend, someone to listen to, or someone to keep you company when the sadness is intense. Do not retreat or try to go at it alone because other people do not know what to say. Try to be as open as possible about the things that might comfort you.
5. Take comfort in those around you.
You must address your grief, and this can be done in the company of others. Do not feel as though you have to retreat like a hermit crab or that others do not want to be around you. Your circle of friends and family will want to be there for you.
Scheduling a counseling session is a great first step to accepting and moving forward in the grieving process. Permit yourself to grieve. Ask for help when things feel too heavy. Feel what you need to feel and do not feel bad or like you are not grieving if you are not crying constantly. Grief has a different face for everyone.
As you grieve, take comfort in your faith and in our Heavenly Father who offers hope in the turmoil. He wipes the tears from our eyes and never abandons us through the storms of life.
Here are some verses to recite, take comfort in, and take to heart as you feel new or heavy feelings during the grieving process:
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. – Revelation 21:4
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. – Psalm 147:3
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. – Isaiah 43:1-3
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