I’m told anniversaries are hard, while walking thru grief. I’m told months 6-12 are worst than 1-5 after the death of a loved-one.
I’m told my brain is supposed to fuzzy, my body is supposed to be revolting, and that my tears are supposed to be a waterfall.
February 1, 2019 is six months since mom stepped into eternity with Jesus. At 4am it will have been six months from the moment the Lord woke me, since I pulled a folding chair up to her bed, since the song “I Stand Amazed in the Presence” played throughout her Hospice room, since I felt the presence of the Lord thick throughout the space, since I could hear in my heart mom telling me to rest in His presence, since “Resurrecting” began to play, since mom took her last breathe on this earth, and since she entered eternity whole and completely healed.
This has been a long six months and I can’t imagine what the next six hold… I have been surrounded by some of the most amazing people who have walked with me through this season. Some have called regularly, some have shown up, some have given open invitations to their homes, some have provided manual labor to take care of things I simply can’t do or figure out. This has been the beauty of the Church! As a single woman who doesn’t live near family, my church and work family have stepped in to be the hands and feet of Jesus in my life. They have pointed me to Jesus by their actions and words, I would not have made it this far without them.
However, if I’m honest, some people have said stupid things, hurtful things, and ignorant things – I have to believe none of it was intentional. Yet, no one should have to go through those moments. So I asked myself, what I’ve learned in these past six months that I could pass on to you, as you help people you love walk through grief and loss?
– Say “I’m headed to the store, what am I bringing you back?” not “call me if I can help.” Most of the time we don’t know how to ask when grief is hovering overhead.
– Check in and listen without sharing your own opinion. Let us be and let us process, point us to Jesus if we need it but keep your opinions to yourself.
– Be constant in our world. You don’t have to move in or become a shadow but let us know you are here for the journey.
– Understand that we need space but that we don’t want to be alone. Space is one thing but grief from death means someone has left and is not coming back, we are lonely but probably don’t have the words to say that. Practice the ministry of presence.
– Offer to come, or just show up, for the big things and the little things. Form celebrations to promotions to ball games and everything in between.
– Ask to hear about their loved-one who died and how they celebrated holidays and everyday life. For instance my mom always sent flowers for my birthday, Valentines Day, Easter, and any other day she deemed important and now there won’t be flowers unless I bring them home myself (not to worry, I will!)
– Help us celebrate little victories such as sleeping through the night, catching up on the laundry, and paying the bills. While we are grieving the things that seem so little for the rest of the world, can appear overwhelming but every victory is significant.
– Don’t try to replace the person who died but try to fill in the gaps. You can’t become the new mom, sister, or grandparent but you can become chosen family who stands in the gaps.
– Send mail! Send the kind of mail where you address an envelope and put a stamp on it, there is a joy to getting an encouraging note in the midst of the bills, insurance letters, and pounds of notices.
– Pray with us and pray for us and let us know you are praying. Send a text, drop a note, stop by to hug our necks, and let us know that you taking our grief and hurt straight to throne of God for the peace only He can provide.
These are only a few things that have been significant to me. From practical hands-on-help to listening to random rants during the process of grieving (yes, it’s a process and it can take up to two years before finding a steady, new, normal) we need people willing to walk with us through the uncomfortable waters of grief.