If you haven't had a season of grief yet, it will come for you. Your fun news of the day. You're welcome!
If we're going to face life instead of slapping a sparkly cliche on it or hiding from it like a toddler pretending to not see the green beans on his plate, we've got to figure out how to walk through pain without letting it completely entomb us. There is a way to hurt with hope.
1. DON'T compare your grief with someone else's.
As a matter of fact, don't compare anyone's grief to anything. Suffering has many faces and many stages. Healing comes in stops and starts.You and someone else might be grieving the same loss, but your journeys will look completely different. Don't put a timeline or formula on any of it. Unless you're hurting yourself or someone else, whatever your grief map looks like is okay.
2. DO seek help.
Counseling - yep, I said it. If you don't want to go talk to a professional who is highly educated to provide objective, helpful feedback and strategies, you may have some pride in this area to deal with. A qualified, compassionate Christian counselor can ease the ache by helping you unravel the dark, twisty thoughts that accompany suffering. Why would you not want that? And if you need medication, for the love of holey cheese, take it. You can have faith and take medication. They are not mutually exclusive. Don't even get me started on this, Eunice.
3. DON'T hole up in your house forever.
There is a time for being alone, but that time is not forever, and it isn't every day. The dark only gets darker when there's no one to bring you any light.
4. DO get outside and take a walk.
There are studies upon studies that show the benefits of sunlight. It makes all kinds of things happy: skin, bones, blood pressure, sleep cycle, mood. Adding a bit of light exercise will get your endorphines pumping, and those babies are in the business of lifting moods.
5. DON'T ignore your feelings.
Some people conclude that the only way to keep moving is to shove down the deep hurt. They think that when enough time goes by, their pain will decrease. However, that just isn't true. Ignored wounds fester. They don't disappear. And, really, the best way to honor your loss is to let yourself feel it. It lets you know how much that person or thing meant to you. Feel it and seek healing. And when you feel joy start to creep back in, feel that, too. It is not dishonoring to your loved one. They would want you to be happy, right? Joy does not mean you're okay with the loss, but it does mean you're healing. And that's good. Let yourself.
6. DO cling to Jesus.
When I lost my daughter, there were so many days when all I could do was hold onto God. I couldn't muster the strength for a walk or a conversation; I could only place my hand on the Bible laid on the pillow next to me and nap. I went to church when I could and listened to Christian TV and radio . . . anything to get some Jesus with the little bit of effort I could give. Don't give up. Jesus will bring you joy again. You will be okay. Just hold on.
Life will never be the same. I am not the same woman I was before Gabi died. There is life before the loss and a different life after it. But your new world will not be cloudy forever. I am a better, more faith-infused version of myself having suffered so deeply and having found Jesus faithful to me. He is the Master of bringing good out of awful tragedy, and your loss will birth beauty in all manner of ways. There is vibrant life after loss for you. Jesus died to make sure of that.