“I just heard our sweet friend went to heaven today.”
I did not just hear that. In my mind, it defied possibility.
Without trying, my mind jumped back to prior conversations, emails, text messages, and even her comments on my blog posts. All still so very real.
And yet what I experienced in that moment was very surreal. We had just spoken recently—I could still replay the sound of her voice in my mind. I could hear her laugh.
I had just sent her a card, making sure she knew how much I loved and appreciated her. Had she received it?
I sat, stunned, for what seemed like hours yet at the same time felt like it could’ve only been seconds.
My response to my friend’s news finally came tumbling out: “Nooooo! It can’t be!”
She was a bit ahead of me in processing this information and remained gentle in her response. “I knew you were close and I didn’t want you to see it first online.”
Sure enough, it was all over social media. I was grateful God spared me from finding out about it there.
My own parents were both deceased, so grief was not foreign to me. And yet it doesn’t change how you feel with subsequent loss. Pain is pain, loss is loss, shock is shock.
She had become like a mother to me, and a spiritual mother for sure. I thought of her in heaven, and knew there was no place she’d rather be. Heaven’s gain was our loss. And what a great loss it is.
To never pray with her again…she prayed powerful, equipping, encouraging prayers that left me ready to go back into battle.
To never hear her infectious laugh gain…a laugh that brought pure joy to anyone who heard it.
To never receive another surprising but encouraging comment on my blogs…it always amazed me when she, my mentor of such, would tell me how much my writing taught her.
To never receive another hug from her…the hugs that were so genuine, comforting, and empowering.
As I began the grieving process, God used even her death and brought beauty from ashes. Those of us who loved her and grieved her death were given an amazing opportunity to begin to see how many lives she touched having lived out her faith. She did not just hear God’s word, she lived it. Even in her death she inspired each of us who loved her to want to have the same spiritual legacy.
Both because of my professional training, but also through personal experience, I’ve learned many things about grief. Maybe these grief tips will help you or someone you love.
- Grief is hard, but remember that our God is faithful. Cling to the One who is well-acquainted with our sorrow.
- God doesn’t expect us or require us to remain strong. He promises in our weakness, He will be our strength (2 Corinthians 12:10).
- We never go through grief alone—God promises to catch all our tears (Psalm 56:8).
- Trying to deny your emotions doesn’t cause them to go away…they’ll resurface later at a less predictable, and often less-controlled way. Allow yourself to feel, and take your feelings to the One who is well-acquainted with our grief.
- Take it one day at a time. “Crying may last for a night, but joy comes with a new day” (Psalm 30:5).
- Peace never comes from focusing on our problems. It comes only by focusing on our Heavenly Father, our Problem Solver.
- Savor the memories as well as the moments of today. We never know how many tomorrows we will have.
- Grief is personal. Don’t compare your grief to anyone else’s. No two people experience is exactly the same.
- It’s okay to need and ask for help. It isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather, a sign of courage and strength. Others want to help but don’t know your needs. Help them help you by asking for what you need.
- Don’t fight it. Just rest in His capable provision. “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14)
- The enemy would like to keep us trapped in the memories of the past, but God is in the present. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
- Platitudes don’t ease pain. Sometimes a hug or a squeeze on the shoulder gives more comfort than words could ever provide.
- Sometimes we don’t need words, we just need to know others are praying for us to get through the rough moments. “My goal is that their hearts would be encouraged and united together in love, so that they might have all the riches of assurance that come with understanding, so that they might have the knowledge of the plan of God” (Colossians 2:2).
- Trust God that He will bring good from your pain. He promises to “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3).
- Hang on. Cling to God. Your grief will be redeemed. “Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy” (John 16:20).
Grief is painful. But God has a plan for each of our lives, which is good, and includes hope and a future.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future'” Jeremiah 29:11.
I’d love to know which tip is your favorite? Or share one of your own.
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)