I have lost many people in my life in many different ways. The pain from some of those losses has lessened over time, for others the pain can be fresh and real at any moment. I think this has given me the ability to relate to others who are in pain and understand things they might be going through.
Initially you need to give yourself time to grieve. That may look different for everyone. Whatever your way to grieve is, is what you need to do. How are you going to get out those overwhelming initial waves of pain? Do you need to cry, scream, build something or go for a walk? Do you need to be with people or be alone? Whatever it is make sure you take the time to self care and not just stuff everything inside. There will be times when you need to hold it together to accomplish some of life’s demands, but there has to be some time for a release of emotions.
Once you get through the initial torrent of grief, comes the time of returning back to routine and what life will now be like with the absence of the person lost. This is where I think some people get lost. This process is especially a problem if the loss is significant – how do you “get back to life” when there is a gaping hole?
As I mentioned before there are some losses that I will carry with me. There are times in life when I think, “she should be here,” “they would be X years old now,” or “she would be so proud.” There is something, someone missing. There is pain you carry.
I was recently reading about a mom who lost her son and she realized that others were going through the same thing she was and decided to reach out. Her son died in a Marine Corp helicopter crash and she sends packets of letters and helpful materials to families also affected by such a loss. Philip Yancey says, “The activity has not solved the grief for her son, of course, but it has given her a sense of meaning, and she no longer feels helpless against that grief.”
I think that is the key – finding a way to find meaning and no longer feel helpless against the grief. I am convinced I will carry this pain with me until I reach heaven and so I have to find a way to not have that loss overwhelm or dictate the rest of my life. We will never find meaning if we only focus on ourselves. Look at the needs of those around you. Is there a soup kitchen nearby that could use a volunteer? Are there other families you could host a group for? There are so many different ways to get involved that the importance is to do just that – get involved. You are not helpless – your life doesn’t have to end just because theirs did. You still have life – live it, and live it with meaning.
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