Grief is defined as : a reaction to a major loss. Grief is expressed in many ways by each person differently. some people "grieve" when their team loses (although I wouldn't define that as grief, really.) Some grieve when a pet dies. Some grieve when they move away from a place they love (I went through that to a degree...) But I really grieved when my mom died. There was the before process of grief-in watching mom's life deteriorate. And there was the after part of grief-learning to live with the loss of her in my daily life. I have thought about grief often today because there are several friends of mine walking through this now. One just attended a funeral of a good friend of theirs; another attended his mother's funeral. I have 2 friends watching one of their loved ones die. Death is a part of life. some of these friends walking through a new grief experience are walking through it for the first time and have asked me many questions on it.
I am no expert in this category. I can only say I"ve walked the path of it myself and have a better understanding of it than I ever used to. So what do I say when they ask me? Well, grief is different for each person, so there is no magic formula. However, I think there are many blanket type things that work. Because I've been asked about this so often lately and because it's on my mind, I decided to put it down here. Here's what I've shared.
-Just sit quietly with the ones grieving the most. The wife/mother/son/husband of the one who just died. There are no words you can say to make it better. Quoting scripture isn't a fix all. There are moments when that helps and is appropriate , but often times just sitting next to the person helps,
-Pray for them. We often say "all I can do is pray. " well, I will tell you firsthand, prayer makes a WORLD of difference. It's the best thing someone can do.
-Write a note. Just let them know you are thinking of them. Find a card that fits the person- it may be cutsie, may be funny, or may be quite sentimental. I personally always enjoy the sentimental ones.
-I've been asked what means something to receive when your loved one dies? Well, flowers were nice, of course. But the best gift I received was a blanket, in memory of mom. something I have every day in my living room to remember her, and it has a beautiful poem on it to remind me of God's love and all He's brought me through. Picture frames, albums, journals,a charm and even books are all good things, too. (Keep in mind the person grieving. For me, those were the most meaningful items. for dad, there were financial gifts given in memory of mom-such as her scholarship, and those were meaningful.)
-Don't tell the person "it'll be okay..." " you just need time." "Life goes on..." Those are all statements that a grieving person knows. Until they are ready to embrace it, saying it is not the best avenue.
JUST BE THERE. the more available you let them know you are, the more likely they will be to turn to you when they need someone. Sometimes a grieving person just needs space. It's a confusing time.
As I watch friends walk through grief, it hurts. I miss mom. I hurt for them because I know how it feels. But I am now also on the other side of it and can claim victory over it! And will pray for them to do so as well.
when cleaning out an old box the other day, I found this poem I'd written for my mom a while ago. It was actually the may she was going through radiation the first time. Please keep in mind, I am no poet:) But I decided I wanted to share it here.
Happy Mothers Day, 2007
There are no words adequate enough to say, What I want to give/express to you this year on Mother's Day. Mom, your life is such an example to me. You live, you love, you give so faithfully. Never have I seen you put yourself above others, you are to me the greatest example of a mother. An not just any mother-my mom, my friend. I k now I can count on you 'til the end. You are there for me in every way, Though we're miles apart, I know I count on you each day. Whether through your prayers or just a phone call, You are there to pick me up when I fall. Your faith in God encourages and inspires me; In you, it's Christ I see. You never fail to look at Him. I hope I am such an example to my kids. Through all of your good times and even the bad, God is where you always turn/ I know you make Him glad. I'm 24 now, and I have failed you many times. But you've always loved me, even if you have cried. Mom, you mean more to me than words can ever express. Sometimes I wish we could go back, I confess. I wish in high school, I'd opened up to you more. I wish I'd appreciated you for the wonderful mom you were. I wish I could take back hurtful actions and words. I wish I'd have lived my life better for the Lord. But those times are past, and now I look ahead.I hope to recall all you've lived and said. I hope to love you better and grow stronger as friends, Because , mom, you mean to world to me, and will 'til the end. I hope to teach my kids all you have taught me, I hope to live what you live for me, a legacy. A legacy of faith and love;A legacy of always looking above. And so , inadequately,I try to capture with words how I feel. Thank you for your love, your faith, your caring, and your zeal. Mom, what I want so much to say: I love you, and I look up to you. Happy Mother's Day "