“ So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” John 16:22*
It has been seventeen years since my husband, Scott died. Since 2001, I have lost other family and friends. The holiday season stirs up many emotions for me.
For those of you who are on a grief journey, I get it. It is extremely difficult to celebrate the joyous season while feeling so empty and raw on the inside.
Grief is exhausting, debilitating, messy, and draining. It stinks.
I am here to say you will get through this in your own time. It is not quick and it is not easy. But there is hope.
I discovered early on in my grief walk I needed to take care of myself. I was of no use to my three little ones if I couldn’t function in day to day life. My first and most important step was to lean on my faith. There were days when I could not pray, much less think about God, but I called on Him abundantly. Even if I could not muster a complete thought or sentence, I could cry out and He listened. I was reminded often God understood my heart because He too had suffered loss and grief.
God surrounded me with the right people during my grief walk. I plugged into my church’s grief group and it was comforting to be around others who were in similar circumstances. I eventually let my guard down and shared my thoughts with others without fear of judgment or regret. The church became a safe space for me and my family and I was fortunate to meet and forge some wonderful friendships with other Christians. I felt God’s protection over me at this most vulnerable point in my life.
My second step was to take care of my physical being. For months, I had neglected my appetite and developed a horrible sleep pattern (meaning very little). I visited the doctor one day and she was concerned about my declining weight and elevated blood pressure. She started asking some deep questions and came to the conclusion I was depressed. I argued with her because I was functioning; getting out of bed, going to work, taking care of my children, paying bills, and maintaining the house. There was no way I was depressed. She disagreed and pointed out my vitals reflected a different story. She convinced me to try some medication, and see if I developed a better sleep pattern and healthier choices around food and exercise. You know what? It worked. I am so thankful for my doctor who took the time to help me get back to the right physical balance in order to be a better mom, daughter, friend, and co-worker.
This leads me to my third step in nurturing my emotional and mental health. Depression can be a real component of grief and there is no shame in seeking counsel or guidance from a licensed professional. My doctor helped me with medication to right my sleep pattern which in turn enabled me the stamina to increase my physical activity. It also gave me clarity of mind and I made the decision to seek individual therapy. My church grief group was a wonderful support, but I needed more self-evaluation. In seeing a therapist I was able to uncover roadblocks encountered in my life. Grief led me to seek a therapist but I discovered there were other benefits in confiding with a professional. I learned and developed coping skills to make informed decisions on navigating through the hazards encountered in my life.
Those early days of grief were a bungled up hot mess which quickly consumed me. When I made conscious efforts to focus on me, it helped to maintain my sanity so I could get through the everyday mundane and SLOWLY gain back my life.
It was a new normal for me.
I still experience the pain of grief. It does not consume me all day or night, but it is as deep and real as it was the night Scott died. The intense sorrow I feel keeps me grounded so when someone suffers the loss of a loved one, I can relate. Because I focused on my spiritual, physical, and emotional components, it has created a firm foundation of who I am and hope for my future. God has brought me through the fire to a point where I am able to comfort others, empathize with their situation, and support them on their grief journey. If you are in the midst of a grief journey, I would love to pray for you. Please go to the prayer request tab on my blog and let me know how I can pray specifically for your needs. Blessings.
*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society