“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” – Matthew 5:4, ESV
I’ll be honest. I haven’t much to say today. I haven’t felt like I’ve had much of value to say for the last few weeks now. In the days and weeks following my Grandad’s death, my words seem to have gone along with everything else. My brain feels like there’s a tangled pile of string in there, and I can’t find an end to start trying to unravel it. And each new decision, seemingly small ones that wouldn’t even phase me on a normal day, adds another metaphorical string to the already mountainous pile inside my head. I try to sort said thing out, but I can’t find an end to the string, I can’t figure out a solution, and so I just leave it there, riding that particular wave until it’s another thing I can tick of my list as “done”.
Grief is a funny thing. It completely flips everything on it’s head. I’m lucky to have had to experience it only a small number of times. However, that small number means I’m inevitably going to have to experience it again in the future. Over these last five weeks, I have experienced the most intense grief I’ve ever felt. Yet, while it has been heart-wrenching, there are things I have learned and truths I have been reminded of that I want to put on record. Things that I want to share with you for your own experience, but also as a reminder and comfort for my future self should the time come when I’m revisited by grief.
1) Grief is different for everyone
Everyone grieves differently. What’s helpful for one person might not be for another. There is space for more than one kind of grief. And everyone needs to be allowed space and time to grieve.
2) Your priorities will be challenged
During this time, I’ve learned what is truly important to me – and what is most important. I’ve realised what things I value most above all others. Some things that I thought were important to me are actually just secondary things. I’ve learned that life is too short to do things that make you miserable, or to spend time with people you make you feel nothing but worry. Pursue the things that give you butterflies of excitement in your stomach and a sense of fulfilment instead of things and people that leave your stomach in knots.
3) Spend time with people you love
Spending time with my family and close friends has been a massive comfort for me. While still taking the time to be alone, invest in those around you – give them your time, your attention and your love while you still can.
4) Talk it out
I mentioned before that people grieve differently, so this might not be the same for you. But for me, being able to talk things through with my parents and a few willing friends has helped me more than I could possibly say. I am so thankful to those friends and family members who have not only let me talk but have listened. Who have taken it at my pace and not forced me to rush, because grieving takes time. For all the hugs given, meals shared, and words spoken, I’ll be forever grateful.
5) If given the chance, be that person for someone else
If you aren’t experiencing the loss of a loved one at the moment, you may know someone else who is. Be careful not to push yourself on them if they don’t want it but make yourself available. Ask them if they want to go out for food. Offer a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on if they need it. Be a source of normality in a world that has been newly flipped on its head. Most people won’t ask it of you in fear of being a burden, so take the initiative and offer.
6) Grieving takes time – don’t rush
Tomorrow it will be five weeks since we lost Grandad. And it still hurts. My Dad said to me the Saturday Grandad died, “the grief will come in waves” – and it does. Grandad is never far from my thoughts, but there are moments where I almost forget he won’t be at home, or in the next room, and then I’ll remember, and the sadness will hit me all over again. And that’s okay. Because grief doesn’t have a timeline or a deadline. I’ll never get over Grandad’s passing, but I will get through it.
7) It’s okay to cry
I’ve heard this said (and have said it) more times in the last month than I have in years. Crying isn’t a sign of weakness. The crying will stop eventually. But it’s okay when it doesn’t. Because sometimes all you need is a good cry.
8) God is faithful
He is the same God He was before my Grandad passed away, and He promises to be with us. The Bible says, “He heals the brokenhearted” (Psalm 147:3, ESV) and “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, ESV). The hope and assurance that I have in Jesus has been the biggest comfort of all. Because I know that there is a Heaven to gain, if only we trust in God with our whole hearts and ask for His salvation, choosing to live our lives for His glory. Because with the hope of Heaven, we know that this is not the end – we will see each other again. And we will see our Saviour. The Bible says, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be morning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4, ESV).
God promises to be our comfort. I can only imagine (and fear) how much harder this time of bereavement would have been had I not had God to trust in. And I sincerely hope that neither you nor I ever find ourselves in such a place.