It’s my seventh Christmas since Pastor Paul, my husband of twenty-eight years, had the fatal motorcycle accident that tore him from my arms and caused his untimely home-going. I treasure remembering joyful Christmases past with him and the years we spent with our elementary-aged children. I cherish revisiting the family memories (pajama-clad on Christmas morning, donning Santa hats with our pet cats, dogs, and ourselves for the annual photo shoot). Through discussions in my GriefShare group, I’ve had to accept the harsh reality that my first husband will no longer be part of my future. Although moving into this truth was excruciatingly painful, it was an important and essential part of my personal healing process.
Grief is difficult. Grief changes our surroundings. Grief is emotion-filled change and intense emotional suffering derived from a Latin verb meaning burden. Everyone has grief, but mourning is a choice. You cannot make grief better, make it go away, fix it, or just “get over it.” You must work through it. The work of grief is important. “You and I will be different because of our grief,” says H. Norman Wright in his book, Experiencing Grief. Most of us do not know how to grieve nor do we want to admit the fact that mourning is an essential part of grieving.
My most re-pinned quote on Pinterest: “Grief changes us, the pain sculpts us, into someone who understands more deeply, hurts more often, appreciates more quickly, cries more easily, hopes more desperately, loves more openly,” via author unknown.
Grief is not something that ever goes away. Grief is something you must complete successfully to resolve your grief and move into mourning. You must work at grief actively if you are to resolve it in a healthy fashion. This is something difficult yet important to do. Our grief work involves mourning not only the person you’ve lost but the hopes and dreams. We must go beyond our reactions to face the loss and work on adapting to it. There are stages we go through that are normal, and it helps to understand and anticipate them. When we understand grief, we should be encouraged to do our own grief work and walk with others who are working on their own grief. The worst grief is what someone goes through personally. The most traumatic grief is when others walk alone in their grief.
This holiday season don’t let anyone you know walk through their grief alone. Make a choice now to reach out to the grieving. Tonight I am hosting the second of three Surviving the Holidays events to encourage the grieving to find hope in Jesus Christ. You can find a GriefShare group or one-day Surviving the Holidays event in your own area by logging onto their group locator and putting in your zip code. Ask your grieving friend or relative to join you as you face the future together without your loved one. Send a sympathy card to each of those you know who’ve lost a loved one this past year. Mention their lost loved one’s name in the card; send an encouraging verse about heaven and the fact that you are praying for them. Offer to join them at a remembrance service. Offer to visit their loved one’s grave with them. Friends don’t let friends grieve alone. Which friends need you to join them as they walk through their grief?
Father, thank you for new life in Christ. Help me to serve you by entering into others’ grief as you did when you reached out in love. Give me wisdom and grace to know how to serve and love them in their loss. Thank you for the hope of heaven. In Jesus’ name, amen.
“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 21:14